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Little House on the Prairie (TV series)
"Little House on the Prairie" opening title screen


Western / Drama / Family

Developed for TV by:

Blanche Hanalis

Based on the book:

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Main cast:

Michael Landon,
Melissa Gilbert,
Karen Grassle,
Melissa Sue Anderson,
Sidney Greenbush

Country / Language:

USA / English



Executive producers:

Michael Landon & Ed Friendly

Original network run:

from September 11, 1974 – March 21, 1983

Little House on the Prairie was originally a series of nine children's books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder about her life; focusing especially on her childhood years. Since the first book, Little House in the Big Woods, was published in 1932, the series has produced a successful television series that aired on NBC from 1974 to 1983, created by Ed Friendly and Michael Landon (who starred as Charles Ingalls) and also starred Karen Grassle as Caroline.

A six episode miniseries was made in 2004 by Disney, and two television films titled Beyond the Prairie: The True Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the first in 2000 and the second in 2002 were made that starred Richard Thomas of The Waltons fame. Even more recently however, a musical; Little House on the Prairie: A New Musical was made that stars actor Steve Blanchard as Charles and Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura in the original series, as Caroline.

Little House Books

The books in the Little House series are considered classics in the genre of children's books.[1] Each book was illustrated by Garth Williams, the series itself has been noted to have been critiqued from a feminist perspective,[2] as well as noting the conservative political message[3] and additionally, the representation of the Osage in the books.

Television Series

The original Little House on the Prairie television series that aired on NBC is perhaps the best known visual incarnation of the series. It ran for nine seasons and over two-hundred episodes, not counting the pilot movie or the final three television films. It starred Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls, Karen Grassle as Caroline, Melissa Sue Anderson as Mary, Melissa Gilbert as Laura along with Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush both playing Carrie.

Additional members of the Ingalls family and other characters were added later in the series many were not in the original books, such as Albert.


On July 26, 2008, the musical opened at the Guthrie Theater, being directed by Francesca Zambello.

Quote1.png We were always a family show, and it always seems to be families sitting around watching, they always did. and they'd cry together and they could really get their whole family, it wouldn't just be the guys off watching football and the girls watching Little House. it would be the whole family, and they'd almost all be crying. Quote2.png

Melissa Sue Anderson, Interview

Little House on the Prairie is an hour-long dramatic television series based on the best-selling book series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It originally aired on NBC from September 11, 1974, to May 10, 1982; the final season, Little House: A New Beginning had a new title and was a departure from the earlier seasons, which mainly focused on Almanzo Wilder (Dean Butler) and Season two was the lowest ranked season,[4] largely due to the Wednesday night time slot that it had. After moving to Monday nights, it remained in the top 30 for the rest of its run.

Little House had four television movies: the pilot movie, which preceded the series and three post-series to wrap the show up: Look Back to Yesterday, Bless All the Dear Children and The Last Farewell.

Little House on the Prairie has had many episodic themes throughout the series, such as love, marriage, childbirth and even some heavy subjects such as drug addiction, racism, and rape. Laura (Melissa Gilbert). It was the second lowest-rated season of the show.[5]


As with the books, the series focuses on the struggles of a pioneer family living in the late 19th century, and their triumphs and tragedies. Comparing the television series to the books concludes that much of it was somewhat loosely based. For example, in the first book Little House in the Big Woods, it describes the Ingalls life in the big woods of Wisconsin. In the pilot movie, it shows the Ingalls family leaving the big woods immediately, without showing any of their life there. In addition, several characters were also added: such as Albert and the Garvey family.


The main characters are Charles Ingalls, played by Michael Landon (who also directed and wrote many of the episodes, and was an executive producer), Caroline Ingalls (Karen Grassle), Mary Ingalls Kendall (Melissa Sue Anderson), Laura Ingalls Wilder, (Melissa Gilbert), and Carrie Ingalls (twin sisters Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush) .

The townspeople of Walnut Grove are also a staple to the show, and thanks to them the show has some comedic episodes. They include, the Oleson family, Nels Oleson (Richard Bull), his gossiping wife Harriet Oleson (Katherine MacGregor), Willie Oleson (Jonathan Gilbert), and Laura's childhood rival Nellie Oleson (Alison Arngrim), and Charles' good friend Mr. Edwards (Victor French), who leaves Walnut Grove with his family in season three, but eventually returns in season eight.

Little House had many famous guest stars like Johnny Cash and Red Buttons.


First, episodes from the show were available on VHS through a Columbia House club subscription. They contained two episodes per tape and also are the only commercially available episodes that are uncut, unlike the DVDs. All "ten" seasons (counting the three final television movies as the tenth season; the pilot was released on an individual DVD) have been released in North America on DVDs in region one format. Seasons one through five have been released in region two format. Also to note, the region one DVDs come with interviews of Dabbs Greer, Alison Arngrim and Dean Butler. The interviews were conducted by Little House historian Patrick Loubatière.

Additionally, Little House on the Prairie was overdubbed in many countries, including in German, "Unsere Kleine Farm", and in French, "La Petite Maison dans la Prairie". Seasons one through for have been released in Germany, with overdubs of the voices but still the same actors.

Mentions in popular culture

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

In an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, titled "The Co-Producers", Mary Richards and Rhoda Morgenstern attempt to make their own talk show. When Mary asks Rhoda if she could change something on television, Rhoda mentions Mrs. Oleson.

Sesame Street

During a segment on the childrens television series Sesame Street, the Monsterpiece Theater, Prairie Dawn has a little house on her head. Also, Michael Landon filmed a counting sketch with his Bonanza co-stars for the show.

Sanford and Son

On an episode of Sanford and Son, Fred makes reference about making a television series about a frontier plumber titled "Little Outhouses on the Prairie". The show was broadcast on NBC as well.

The Smoking Room

In the first episode of The Smoking Room, "Doo Di Dum Di Da", Robin can't remember the theme song for Little House.

Family Guy

Two episodes of FOX's Family Guy, Little House related scenes are shown. In one episode, it spoofs Charles, Caroline, Laura and Carrie tricking Mary (who is already blind) into going up a ladder which falls out an opening in the house. In another, Quagmire is seen running down a hill copying the end credits to Little House.


Little House continues to remain popular in reruns in syndication. The Hallmark Channel has broadcast the series for years and still does on a daily basis. Additionally, Little House on the Prairie can also be seen on INSP; and, because of it's historical background, the FCC deemed the show as acceptable to meet E/I programming guidelines. The show aired on COZI-TV network from seasons 1-9.


The music for Little House on the Prairie was composed by David Rose, who also worked on Bonanza and Highway to Heaven. He was nominated and won Emmy awards for his work on the show. The theme for Little House was titled "The Little House", and on a side note: while filming the opening credits for the show, Sidney Greenbush fell while going down the hill and got whiplash.[6] Additionally, the theme from Highway to Heaven was used on the episode "Marvin's Garden".


Nielsen ratings

  • Season 1 (1974–75): #13[7]
  • Season 2 (1975–76): Not in top 30[8]
  • Season 3 (1976–77): #15
  • Season 4 (1977–78): #7[9]
  • Season 5 (1978–79): #14[10]
  • Season 6 (1979–80): #16[11]
  • Season 7 (1980–81): #10[12]
  • Season 8 (1981–82): #24 (Tied with: The Facts of Life)
  • Season 9 (1982–83): #28


Popularity in Spain

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, La Casa de la Pradera (Little House on the Prairie) was one of Spanish Television's most popular series. In 1976 Karen Grassle (Caroline Quiner Ingalls) won Spanish television's prestigious TP de Oro award for best foreign actress, and the series itself won for best foreign series; Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls) won the TP de Oro in 1980 thanks in part to the enhanced profile she received as a result of her visit to Spain and her appearance on Spanish Television's 625 Lineas program in early 1979. The continued popularity of the show led to the appearance of Katherine MacGregor (Harriet Oleson) on 625 Lineas and Ding Dong in 1980.


Awards won are highlighted in green.

Emmy Awards

  • Emmy, Nominated, "Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series", David Rose for "Remember Me" part 1 and 2.
  • Emmy, 1978: Won, "Outstanding Cinematography in Entertainment Programming for a Series", Ted Voigtlander for the episode "The Fighter".
  • Emmy, Nominated, "Outstanding Achievement in Makeup", Hank Edds (makeup) and Allan Snyder (makeup) for episode "The Fighter".
  • Emmy, Nominated, "Outstanding Cinematography for a Series", Ted Voigtlander for "He Was Only Twelve part 2".

Golden Globes

  • Golden Globes, 1977, Nominated, "Best TV-Series - Drama"
  • Golden Globes, 1979, Nominated, "Best TV Actor - Drama", Michael Landon
  • Golden Globes, 1981, Nominated, "Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Drama", Melissa Gilbert

People's Choice Awards

  • People's Choice Awards, 1978, Won, "Favorite TV Dramatic Program"
  • People's Choice Awards, 1979, Won, "Favorite TV Dramatic Program"

TP de Oro, Spain

    • TP de Oro, Won, "Best Foreign Series"

TV Land Awards

    • TV Land Awards, Won, "Character Most Desperately in Need of a Timeout", Alison Arngrim
  • TV Land Awards, 2008, Nominated, "Siblings That Make You Grateful for Your Own Crazy Family", Alison Arngrim and Jonathan Gilbert

Western Writers of America

Young Artist Award

  • Young Artist Award, 1980, Nominated, "Best TV Series or Special Featuring Youth"
    • Young Artist Award, Nominated, "Best Juvenile Actress in a TV Series or Special", Melissa Gilbert
  • Young Artist Award, 1981, Nominated, "Best Young Comedienne", Alison Arngrim
  • Young Artist Award, 1982, Nominated, "Best Young Actress in a Television Series", Missy Francis
    • Young Artist Award, Nominated, "Best Young Actress in a Television Series", Olivia Barash
    • Young Artist Award, Nominated, "Best Television Series - Family Enjoyment"
    • Young Artist Awards, 1983, Nominated, "Best Young Actress, Guest on a Series", Sheri Strahl
    • Young Artist Awards, Nominated, "Best Young Actress in a Drama Series", Missy Francis
    • Young Artist Awards, Nominated, "Best Young Actress in a Drama Series", Shannen Doherty
    • Young Artist Awards, Nominated, "Best Young Actress in a Drama Series", Allison Balson
    • Young Artist Awards, Nominated, "Best Young Actor in a Drama Series", David Friedman
    • Young Artist Awards, Nominated, "Best New Family Television Series"
    • Young Artist Awards, Tied (with Jill Whelan for "The Love Boat"), "Best Young Actress in a Drama Series", Melissa Gilbert
  • Young Artist Awards, 1984, Nominated, "Best Young Actress in a Drama Series", Shannen Doherty
    • Young Artist Awards, Nominated, "Best Young Actress in a Drama Series", Allison Balson
    • Young Artist Awards, Nominated, "Best Young Actor in a Drama Series", David Friedman
    • Young Artist Awards, Won, "Best Young Actress in a Drama Series", Melissa Gilbert

TV Guide

  • Charles Ingalls was ranked number four on TV Guide's list of "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" (June 20, 2004 issue).
  • Nellie Oleson Dalton was ranked number three on TV Guide's list of "TV's 10 Biggest Brats" (March 27, 2005 issue).






Members of the town




Little House on the Prairie Intro


See category or Episode Guide


  1. Best Childrens Books List
  2. Constructing the Little House: Gender, Culture, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne Romines
  3. Little House, Long Shadow: Laura Ingalls Wilder's Impact on American Culture, Anita Clair Fellman
  4. Television Rankings: 1975-1976
  5. Television Rankings: 1982-1983
  6. Melissa Sue Anderson Interview
  7. TV Ratings - 1974.
  8. TV Ratings - 1975.
  9. TV Ratings - 1977.
  10. TV Ratings - 1978.
  11. TV Ratings - 1979.
  12. TV Ratings - 1980.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Ted Voigtlander, 75; Won Emmys for 'Little House' Cinematography", Los Angeles Times, December 11, 1988. Retrieved on May 12, 2015. 

External links

Wikipedia has an article related to: Little House on the Prairie.

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