Who didn’t want to be Laura Ingalls Wilder as a kid? Even if we really had no idea what being a pioneer meant, we all thought that this seemed like such a glamorous lifestyle. We loved the Little House On The Prairie books written by Laura, first published in 1932. Even though she was writing about the 19th century and we were definitely growing up in a more modern time, we totally thought that we could set up life in the country with our family.
The TV version aired from 1974 until 1984 on NBC and lasted for nine seasons. It made big stars of pretty much everyone and even had some surprising faces that we totally recognize now (we’re looking at you, Jason Bateman and Kyle Richards). So what is the massive cast up to now? Check out the gallery to find out what the 20 biggest stars of Little House On The Prairie are up to these days.
20. Michael Landon/Charles Ingalls
The paternal figure on the show was pretty dashing and while this was part of his long and successful acting career, it’s safe to say that it made him famous. It’s hard to get a better role than as the father on the TV adaptation of a beloved and popular book series.
After he said goodbye to this role, he played an angel on NBC’s Highway to Heaven from 1984 to 1989. He had three wives and nine kids. He sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer in 1991.
19. Melissa Gilbert/Laura Ingalls Wilder
Perhaps the most famous of all, Melissa Gilbert was only nine years old when she got the role of Laura, aka the main character of the show. She definitely grew up on the show and has even said that she considered Michael Landon to be like a dad to her, so there was a real family feeling on the set.
Today, Melissa has pursued a lot of creative activities. She is a cookbook author — “My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours” was published in 2014 — and her 2010 memoir “Prairie Tale” was a roaring success. She even ran for political office, but since she has a spinal injury, she ultimately decided not to go through with it.
18. Karen Grassle/Caroline Ingalls
Karen Grassle played Charles’ wife and Laura’s mom, Caroline, on the show, and it was her first starring role. Yup, that was pretty good for a first job, since she was in 182 episodes (of a total of 204).
Since then, the actress has been in a few episodes of shows such as Murder, She Wrote and The Love Boat but nothing as big as her Little House role. She has had no acting roles since 2012 and seems to be laying pretty low.
17. Matthew Laborteaux/Albert Quinn Ingalls
Matthew Laborteaux played a kid that the Ingalls family adopted, and he was super adorable. He appeared in seasons five to nine. After that ended, he was in single episodes of a bunch of TV shows including The Bob Newhart show and The Love Boat.
These days, Matthew has a really cool job: he’s a voice artist for movies. He’s done really well for himself which is inspiring to anyone who has wanted to do something different from what originally brought them fame, success, and/or attention.
16. Shannen Doherty/Jenny Wilder
Yup, Brenda Walsh herself was actually on Little House On The Prairie. She played Jenny Wilder, Laura’s niece. Laura and her husband Almanzo decided to adopt Jenny and raise her as their own.
Shannen has definitely made a name for herself in the film and TV world… not always in a good way. After four seasons of Beverly Hills, 90210, she moved onto Charmed and reportedly left both shows thanks to not getting along with the cast and crew and other on-set behavior. Today, she has a role on the TV version of the ’90s movie Heathers. She has also been battling cancer very publicly.
15. Alison Arngrim/Nellie Oleson
Nellie Oleson is one of the most notorious TV characters in history since she was kind of a jerk. Just think of her as the original mean girl.
Alison Arngrim still acts here and there today and is known for having a sense of humor (and more of a sense of humor than her iconic spoiled character). She is also a devoted activist for issues like AIDS, incest and child abuse. She also sometimes does her “Nastie Nellie Oleson Tour” in L.A. where she talks about her life on Little House, which people still want to hear about to this day. She wrote a book called “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated” which was published in 2010.
14. Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush/Carrie Ingalls
These two sisters were child stars and they both were Carrie Ingalls on the show. They took turns, much like when Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen both played Michelle Tanner on Full House.
Lindsay and Sidney aren’t really acting anymore, which makes sense since not all child stars want to continue that Hollywood lifestyle once they get older. They seem to be focused on their marriage/family life. Tragedy struck Sidney when her husband took his own life in 2009. Lindsay married her childhood crush in 2014.
13. Allison Balson/Nancy Oleson
Allison Balson found fame when she played Nancy Oleson from 1981 until 1983. She went to Princeton, which is definitely impressive. Harriet and Nels Oleson adopted Nancy (yup, a lot of kids were adopted on this show).
She has been devoted to pursuing a singing career and has found lots of success. Her most famous song was released in 1987 called “I Wonder,” and she released an album in 2005. She has her own radio show called “Music Scene Live” which sounds really cool since it combines conversation and songs.
12. Bonnie Bartlett/Grace Snider Edwards
Bonnie Bartlett played Grace Snider Edwards, who was married to Isaiah Edwards, who was Charles’ good friend.
Back in the ’90s and 2000s, Bonnie was in some episodes of Home Improvement, Boy Meets World, and Once And Again. Most recently, Bonnie guest starred in a 2008 episode of Grey’s Anatomy and, in 2017, was in two episodes of Better Call Saul. She is also married with a family. We might know her husband: William Daniels aka Mr. Feeny.
11. Richard Bull/Nels Oleson
Richard Bull was a theater actor before he was cast as Nels Oleson. He had a few film roles in the ’60s and ’70s but Nels put him on the acting map for sure. Nels was married to Harriet and they had three kids, Nellie, Nancy (who was adopted), and Wilie. He and his wife ran a store called Oleson’s Mercantile. After the show ended, he continued to play small roles on TV shows such as Hill Street Blues and Highway to Heaven.
Richard passed away from pneumonia in 2014.
10. Jonathan Gilbert/Willie Oleson
If Jonathan Gilbert‘s last name sounds familiar, that’s because he is Melissa Gilbert’s adopted bro in real life. That appears to be how he got the role on the show, which makes sense. Willie was the brother of Nellie and Nancy and the son of Harriet and Nels.
Playing Willie Oleson was his only acting job besides a 1979 TV movie called The Miracle Worker. He has probably taken the most unexpected path since starring as Willie Oleson on the long-running TV series. Today he is working as a stockbroker.
9. Dean Butler/Almanzo Wilder
Dean Butler played Laura’s husband on the show. He had one other pretty great role: Buffy’s dad, Hank, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sure, he was only in four episodes of Buffy, but still!
Dean loves Little House so much that he has created a whole other career for himself as a documentary filmmaker and his subject is none other than the beloved series. His two films are called Little House on the Prairie: The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura. Today he lives in L.A. with his wife.
8. Kyle Richards/Alicia Sanderson Edwards
Yup, a Real Housewife was on Little House on the Prairie. Kyle Richards and her sister Kim Richards were both child stars. Grace and Isaiah Edwards adopted Alica, who was a staple in the second and third seasons and then later appeared in seasons six and eight.
Kyle is now a fan fave on The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills and shares her lavish California lifestyle with her real estate mogul husband and their four daughters. She owns a successful boutique called Kyle by Alene Too and TV Land recently greenlit her pilot about growing up in the ’70s.
7. Kevin Hagen/Dr. Hiram Baker
The super sweet, older doctor on Little House had a whole acting career before taking on that role in 1974, but this was definitely his most beloved character. He was on a western show on CBS called Yancy Derringer and an ABC show called Lawman. He starred in some Little House TV movies as well.
He passed away in 2005 after a battle with esophageal cancer. He was married four times and had one son.
6. Jason Bateman/James Cooper Ingalls
We might have had no idea that the kid that Caroline and Charles Ingalls adopted would grow up and turn out to be Jason Bateman, aka one of the most successful (and adorable) TV and film actors ever. But that’s exactly what happened.
Jason is known for his starring role as Michael Bluth on Fox’s Arrested Development and movies such as Horrible Bosses and Juno. He has recently been in the Netflix drama Ozark with Laura Linney. Yup, he’s been a roaring success.
5. Scottie MacGregor/Harriet Oleson
Harriet Olseon not known as a super nice person and she was a serious gossip. It was actually the last role that Scottie MacGregor before starring in a 2014 short film called The Lottery. She had a few small TV roles between the ’50s and ’70s and Harriet was her most well-known part.
Her real name is Katherine (“Scottie” is a nickname that she has used as her given name for a long time) and she is currently 92 years old. Playing Harriet is definitely something to be proud of as she has gotten tons of recognition and accolades for her talented portrayal.
4. Lucy Lee Flippin/Eliza Jane Wilder
The woman behind Eliza Jane Wilder has had small roles on TV shows such as Full House and Bevery Hills, 90210. Her 18-episode arc on Little House was definitely her longest TV role ever. She played Laura’s husband, Almanzo’s sister who became a teacher.
Not much exists on the web about her current life. She seems to be living a quiet life in Philidelphia. Her last acting role was in a straight-to-video movie called Prairie Fever in 2008, which is definitely fitting.
3. Dabbs Greer/Reverend Robert Alden
This character was considered to be a very good man, and he was portrayed by Dabbs Greer for 76 episodes. Before that, he had a super long, amazing career spanning both film and TV. He was in a seriously long list of movies from 1949 on, although he sadly didn’t receive screen credit for many of his roles.
His final role was in a 2003 episode of Lizzie McGuire. He passed away in 2007 from heart problems.
2. Victor French/Isaiah Edwards
Victor French played this character, who was married to Grace, for 59 episodes. He didn’t have an easy time of things and was a very troubled, rugged man.
After Little House ended, Victor starred in 111 episodes of Highway to Heaven from 1984 until 1989. Yup, that was the same show that his co-star, Michael Landon, was on. He also directed. He passed away in 1989 from lung cancer and left behind three kids and two ex-wives.
1. Melissa Sue Anderson/Mary Ingalls Kendall
Melissa Sue Anderson played one of the three Ingalls daughters, and she was only seven years old when she won the role. Before that, she was already doing well since she had parts on The Brady Brunch and Bewitched. Not bad, right?
After the role that brought her the most fame, she was in four episodes of The Love Boat and a 1977 ABC Afterschool Special called “Very Good Friends.” Today, she has left the acting industry behind and has settled down in Montreal with her family.