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1974 to 1983: 'Little House on the Prairie'

The cast remembers life in Walnut Grove

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LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE Melissa Gilbert, Dean Butler, Melissa Sue Anderson, Rachel Lindsay, Mathew Labyorteaux, and Alison Arngrim; seated: Karen Grassle (holding a picture…
MATTHEW SALACUSE for EW

In 1974 audiences were introduced to the Ingallses, a frontier family living in a rustic cabin in the Minnesota wilderness during the 1870s and ’80s. America was in the middle of its Me Decade, with an exhausting war and general upheaval at home. The weekly dramas of a farmer and his children — based on the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder — were an irresistible look at a simpler time when people based their lives around family, home, and church. (All nine seasons are available on Digital HD on Amazon; seasons 1–3 are also available on Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate.) EW’s shoot reunited many of the residents of Walnut Grove: There were the Ingalls kids — Laura (Melissa Gilbert), Mary (Melissa Anderson), Carrie (Lindsay Greenbush, who split the role with her twin sister, Sidney), and Albert (Matthew Laborteaux) — plus town bully Nellie Oleson (Alison Arngrim), Laura’s husband, Almanzo Wilder (Dean Butler), kindly schoolteacher Miss Beadle (Charlotte Stewart), and, of course, Ingalls matriarch Caroline (Karen Grassle). It was the first time much of the cast had seen one another since 1991 — the year the show’s director/executive producer/star, Michael Landon (Charles), died. ”They’ve all grown into such lovely people,” Grassle says. ”There’s so much love in this group.” For Gilbert, who was arguably the most famous child actor in the world while the show aired, Little House was ”an adventure and one of the most formative parts of my life.” With more than 200 episodes, there were memories to spare from the cast. Here, we asked them to talk about a few key moments.

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