Cast members from two of the most beloved classic television shows Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons will appear together at the North Alabama Christmas Market in Rogersville on Saturday December 3 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday December 4 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will be held at The Cotton Gin at Roberson Farms located at 6810 County Road 91. Little House on the Prairie cast members scheduled to appear at the North Alabama Christmas Market are Wendi Lou Lee Baby Grace Ingalls Charlotte Stewart Miss Beadle Dean Butler Almanzo Wilder Pamela Roylance Sarah Carter and Patrick Labyorteaux Andy Garvey. They along with Alison Arngrim Nellie Oleson recently reflected on their Little House on the Prairie days and spoke about what they have been involved in since the show.
- What prompted you to audition for LHOTP? Were you automatically cast for the show?
Labyorteaux- I received an audition from my agent for the part of Andy Garvey. They were re-casting the role and it happened very fast for me. I watched an episode of Little House on Wednesday auditioned on a Thursday and started work on a Friday. It was crazy wonderful exciting and the best. Stewart- I went on many interviews in those days…this just being one of them. I had never heard of Laura Ingalls Wilder or the Little House books but I knew it was a western and I had been in Bonanza and Gunsmoke and many other tv westerns BUT I didn’t know Michael Landon was producing this one I was shocked when my agent called me that afternoon and said I had gotten the role of Miss Beadle the school teacher and it was a four year deal Arngrim- My whole family was in show business and I started working in television when I was around five years old. By the time I auditioned for Little House I had been in a few TV shows several commercials and a movie. I had an agent who sent me on auditions regularly. Like many child actors that meant I sometimes had auditions after school two or three times a week
The funny things is I originally auditioned for the part of LAURA Obviously I was not right for that one LOL and the part of Mary So when months later they called me back for another audition I couldn’t imagine what part it was for. Now I hadn’t read the books. I had no idea who Nellie Oleson was. I didn’t know there WAS a Nellie Oleson So when my father and I arrived at the audition and I was giving the pages of the script I would be reading I was shocked. I turned to my father and said This is NOT a normal part This girl is a TOTAL B —- My father said What are you talking about? so I read it for him. When he finally stopped laughing he said You go in there and read it JUST LIKE THAT don’t change ANYTHING
I read for Michael Landon and the other producers. They couldn’t stop laughing. It was the My Home speech from the first episode Country Girls. They asked me to do it again. I asked what they wanted me to change. They said Nothing Just read the part about the house again By the time we got home my agent was on the phone. I had been hired on the spot don’t know if this a compliment to my acting ability or says something questionable about my personality LOL Roylance- From childhood I dreamed of becoming a professional actor and studied acting thru high school and college. For years I had performed in local commercials stage plays and educational films in Portland Oregon. But it was in my third year of teaching high school when I felt compelled and committed to move to Los Angeles to further the growth of my on-camera acting career. I packed my car and left town with the support and blessings of my family and with the plan in my head and heart to get on Little House on the Prairie The Waltons Eight is Enough or anything Walt Disney.
You can imagine my delight when my agent called with an audition to be a series regular on the 9th season of Little House Since I had been working at a chocolate factory after arriving in L.A. and had a pack a box eat a box philosophy I needed to lose a bit of weight. But that is a story for another time. I did what was needed in the short amount of time allotted and after a series of five or six rounds of auditions won the role of Sarah Carter. Lee- My twin sister and I didn’t audition for the role of Baby Grace. My mom wasn’t trying to turn her six month old babies into child actors the role fell into our laps. My grandparents were friends with Kent and Sue McCray–the executive director and casting director on Little House. Over lunch one day Sue mentioned how they couldn’t find twins to play the role of Baby Grace… of course my grandmother ran to her bedroom and showed them a picture of us. That picture went to Michael and we spent a few minutes playing with him on the floor of his office before he offered the job to my mom.
- Are you anything like the character you played?
Labyorteaux- Besides losing my mother in a blind school fire burning down my family’s barn and being involved in a cheating scandal with the Mercantile owners daughter not really. Andy and I don’t have that much in common. We both think Melissa Gilbert’s pretty cool. Stewart- I guess I am close to Miss Beadle since I was raised on a farm in Northern California. My God Mother was a teacher in a one-room school house so I understood what that was like. Arngrim- I certainly hope not LOL But I think we all have a little Nellie in us. My husband says Nellie lives every morning for five minutes before that first cup of coffee. Roylance- Oh yes indeed I am very much like Sarah Carter. In fact the reason I dreamed of working on a show like Little House was because I thought it was me …the me I feel most comfortable being in the world. My mother’s family was from Kansas the heart of the country. I felt comfortable in prairie shoes and old-fashioned mentality. It was the manners the caring the simplicity and civility of a time gone by that I longed for in our contemporary world. I guess I left one foot in a past generation. Lee- Baby Grace was only four years old when the show ended… but I hope to be a person of enduring grace to everyone I meet.
- What is the main thing you’ve done since the show ended? If you stopped acting why did you stop?
Labyorteaux- I continued acting into my teen years in my adult years. I did a number of movies in the 80s like Summer School Heather’s and in the 90s I starred in the TV show JAG for 10 years. In 2011 my wife and I created a TV show from Nickelodeon call See Dad Run. and I am presently acting on shows like the offer and for all mankind. Stewart- I followed Little House a few years later with a role in David Lynch’s series Twin Peaks. I had known David since I acted in his first film Eraserhead. Arngrim- Oh I’m of the old show biz generation that never retires. I started doing stand up comedy as a teenager so I toured the country with that quite a bit. I did the usual TV things after Little House like Love Boat and Fantasy Island. I even did a movie of the Week with Marie Osmond called I married Wyatt Earp. I also started doing theatre when I was about 13 my parents actually met in the theatre and were the founders of the Totem Theatre in Canada so I come from a theatre family. I still do theatre now I try to do at least one play a year.
In 2002 I started my one woman show Confessions of A Prairie Bi and I’ve done that one all over the world. I do a French comedy revue as well and have traveled all over France performing. Yes I do the show in French. I even did a movie there with a famous old director Jean Pierre Mocky and I had to do the whole thing in French as well. I currently do a lot of web series and independent films my most recent being Even In Dreams. It’s a nice uplifting movie about a young girl trying to make it in the music industry while hanging on to her values and keeping her band together. I play the evil band manager who tries to ruin everything Like of course who else would I play? LOL
Roylance- I have never stopped and I am quite certain will never stop acting. It’s like the game of golf. You can do it until you drop or until you can’t remember lines or swing a 9-iron. Age is not a qualifier. I have continued booking commercial film and television roles interspersed with an occasional role in a stage play. It never seems to be enough to satisfy the actor appetite but my turn comes round intermittently usually about the time I’m considering getting on the bus and going back home. Lee- After Little House my sister and I did one commercial before graduating from acting and starting Kindergarten. A few years later my family moved away from Hollywood. We lost touch with the cast. I grew up in a small town where no one really knew about our role on Little House. I married my husband and became a mom of two incredibly awesome kids. In 2004 I was reunited with the cast of Little House on the Prairie—twenty-three years after the show ended. Ever since then I’ve had the privilege of traveling across the country to Little House events with my television family. After a brain tumor in 2015 I wrote a book titled A Prairie Devotional…available in my Prairie Shop on Etsy. I also speak at churches and women’s retreats hoping to inspire people to focus on the goodness of God during life’s most difficult circumstances. Visit my website for more information. wendiloulee.com
- In regard to your life what do you feel your legacy is?
Stewart- I’m humbled & honored at the fact that after over 45 years people still admire my acting and the role of Miss Beadle. Roylance- That’s a work in progress but in a word I’d say Kindness. My mother was known for her kindness and I always wanted to grow up to be just like her. I’m still growing but I have come to discover that living in kindness is my happy place. Lee- I like to think that my legacy is bringing a little bit more grace to this world. To make people feel less alone and seen in a culture that can be harsh and judgmental and lonely. I hope to show people that it’s okay to be vulnerable and live with authenticity to be confident in the person God created them to be.
- Did you watch the show?
Labyorteaux- Absolutely I was a huge fan First day of shooting I couldn’t stop bothering Melissa about all the trivia I wanted her to answer. Stewart- I still watch it when I can. Arngrim- Oh and STILL DO It really is a great show. If my husband and I are flipping channels and see an episode is on we will absolutely stop and watch it. Roylance- Yes I did. I remember countless days coming home after teaching school and watching late afternoon Little House reruns before I’d start grading papers. Lee- Yes of course I watched Little House… every Monday night. Then when the reruns started my sisters and I would race home every day after school to get our homework done so we could watch the show. When my daughter started Kindergarten we watched the whole series again together as a family.
- How do you think playing your character affected your life? Are there any regrets?
Labyorteaux- Little House was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Stewart- I feel that the work ethic on Little House followed me into my personal life. No regrets of any kind. I am still friends with the actors who played the children on the show. We travel together a lot.
Arngrim- Honestly I think being Nellie Oleson is one the best things that ever happened to me I was bullied and very shy as a child and playing the scariest girl on TV gave me confidence and a whole new lease on life. It’s given me a whole career plus a level of fame that has allowed me to travel the world meet thousands of people and raise huge amounts of money for charity. Roylance- No regrets. I don’t think this role changed any of my philosophies or way of being in the world because I’m like-minded and in lockstep with Sarah. Had she been real we would have been friends. But playing the role did have a long-lasting impact on my life. It changed the trajectory of my career and gave me a much-needed boost to my self-esteem. Lee- Playing the role of Baby Grace gave me a foundation of faith in God and love for family. Forty years after leaving Hollywood my days are completely absorbed in the role of Baby Grace engaging with people who love Little House and helping them find joy and peace in hard times. It’s crazy how it all came full-circle for me I have no regrets.