Karen Grassle called this part of the setting the “dark place on the prairie”

The NBC series Little house in the meadow became an instant hit when it premiered in 1974. Created by Windfall star Michael Landon, who also played the role of Patriarch Charles Ingalls, the series featured several promising actors to play his family: Karen Grassle (wife Caroline), Melissa Sue Anderson (eldest daughter Mary), Melissa Gilbert (youngest daughter Laura ), and twins Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush (youngest daughter Carrie).

The historical drama portrays the many challenges the Ingalls family faced in the late 1800s, with many hard-hitting scenes set on a particular set.

Michael Landon, Lindsay / Sydney Greenbush, Karen Grassle, Melisbsa Sue Anderson and Melissa Gilbert from “Little House on the Prairie” | NBCU / NBCUniversal Photo Bank via Getty Images

The Ingalls’ house was literally a “little house”

Grassle had a background in soap operas and theater when she was recruited to play Caroline. Used to wide open stages, she had to adapt to the smaller sets on Little house, including the iconic Ingalls hut where many family scenes took place.

“The authentic size of the Little House… was Small“Grassle wrote in his memoir, Shiny Lights, meadow dust. “The way the walls and ceiling could open up to make room for the camera, the lights and the crew. On the soap operas I shot in New York, the sets looked more like a theater with three-sided walls, the camera positioned as if they were the audience.

The more intimate setting of the Ingall’s home reflected the intimate family atmosphere the producers wanted to create.

“This set opened like a dollhouse and was reassembled with hinges so the camera could move in and around it, able to shoot as many angles as possible,” Grassle noted. “The little house would be a cozy place, where the table contained platters of scrambled eggs, family discussions over rabbit stew, and Papa’s violin made the girls dance in front of the merry fire.”

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The drama often took place near the barn of the “little house”

With the series set in the 1870s, much of the series’ subject matter explored various trials and tribulations from that period. Grassle described a particular area of ​​the plateau where distressing news was often given or calamity occurred.

“A third of the double stage has been cut and filled with soil,” the Little house alum explained. “In this area was the barn. As the scripts developed, the barn became the dark place on the prairie.

Grassle has listed just a few of the more tumultuous scenes that took place in the barn.

“[It was] the place where Mary lit a dangerous fire one night when she secretly wanted to study after bedtime, ”Grassle recalls. “Where Caroline, during a thunderstorm. would try to save a fickle, unconscious cow. Here, standing by the fence, Charles would tell Caroline that Mary was going blind.

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‘Little House’ plots got a little too dramatic

Landon’s commitment to portraying the gritty realism of life on the Prairies continued throughout the show’s nine seasons, although Grassle felt the storylines went a bit too far over time.

“Some of the stories had become a real stretch,” she remarked of the show’s final seasons. “Between a blind school fire burning Alice Garvey (Hersha Parady) and Mary’s baby, then a rape scenario, we seemed to have lost our way.”

Little house ended with a special TV movie, The last farewell, released in March 1984.

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