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 Karen Grassle In Walnut Grove

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PostSubject: Karen Grassle In Walnut Grove   Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:26 am

MARSHALL - It's been more than 40 years since Karen Grassle, who portrayed Caroline Ingalls on the television show "Little House on the Prairie," has visited Walnut Grove.

Grassle is coming back to Walnut Grove this weekend, July 16th and 17th, to meet and greet fans of the iconic television show. Her schedule includes autograph sessions at the museum from 10-11:30 a.m. and 2-3 p.m. Saturday, a photo session from 9-10:30 a.m. and an autograph session from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the museum. She will also speak at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on stage at the Wilder Pageant.
According to her online biography, Grassle pursued plays at school and church and spent much of her free time studying ballet, tap and Hawaiian. Even though she tried to stay away from theater when she went to college at the University of California at Berkeley, she got the female lead in "Look Back in Anger" the spring of her sophomore year.
"That was it, no turning back," she said in her biography. She studied at Pasadena Playhouse, became an apprentice at the Actor's Workshop of San Francisco and spent summers at drama or Shakespeare festivals acting.
She became a drama major as well as an English major, specializing in Shakespeare. Grassle applied for a Fulbright Grant to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and enrolled there in the fall of 1965.
Her Broadway debut was in 1968 when she was cast in "The Gingham Dog."
In her biography, Grassle said she was cast to do a lead in an independent film in Hollywood. She moved there and by the end of the year, she was cast as Caroline Ingalls in "Little House on the Prairie."
When she went out for the show, Grassle said, all she knew was it was about a pioneer family.
"I was new to Hollywood," she said.
The show had been on the air for a year when Grassle came to Walnut Grove back in September of 1975. She remembered a plaque by Plum Creek, and she said she was moved by the visit.
"I was very charmed by the people," Grassle said. "Everybody was so excited. People went out of their way to make me feel welcome."
It was a very innocent time, Grassle said, things were fresh and new. She visited the community, the school, and there was a country picnic with ham and potato salad.
Back in the 1970s, "Little House on the Prairie" was seen in 100 countries, and it still remains popular today. Why the show made such an impact, Grassle said, is the values of family, community, loyalty, responsibility and integrity.
"It really pushes those values," she said.
Grassle said she and the cast didn't realize how much of an effect the show would have.
"We never had any idea that this would keep going like this, one generation after another," Grassle said.
Grassle recalled a few emotionally-charged episodes, including the one where Mary, played by Melissa Sue Anderson, went blind.
"That was tough," Grassle said.
There were also episodes where Laura ran away or Carrie fell into a well that triggered emotions, Grassle said.
"Those required a depth of emotions that was very gratifying to use," Grassle said.
Besides "Little House," she did a lot of TV and television movies, such as "Cocaine, One Man's Seduction," "The President's Mistress" and "Crisis in Mid-air." Films included "Wyatt Earp" and "Harry's War." According to her website, Grassle said one of her "proudest accomplishments was the production of the TV movie 'Battered.'" She co-wrote it with her friend, Cynthia Lovelace Sears.
On her website, Grassle said in her biography that after "Little House," she found work in Santa Fe, Boston, New York City and Louisville, Kentucky. When she was in Santa Fe, she wrote a screenplay, started a theater company, acting and directing. In Louisville, she performed in classics and original American plays.
According to her website, Grassle said that during the times she's not acting, she gives her "creative energy to writing." She's written 10-minute plays, a film script "Playing With Fire" and a full-length play. Her biography said she is participating in classes in the memoir. She said she's close to the end of writing her memoir.
"That's been very interesting," she said. "I started quite casually five years ago." She said she seriously started working on it to make it into something coherent.
Questions she's usually asked about the show, Grassle said, include what it was like to work with Katherine "Scottie" MacGregor, who played Harriet Oleson, and Michael Landon
"He was really prolific," Grassle said about Landon. "He had an uncanny ability to know what the audience wanted to feel. It was like he had his thumb on the pulse of the country."
In the last few years, Grassle has settled in the San Francisco Bay area where she was born and went to college.
Later this fall, Grassle will be in the Riverside Center for the Performing Arts production of "Driving Miss Daisy" in Richmond, Virginia. Miss Daisy is a character she's done before, she said.
"It's a wonderful play and a terrific character," Grassle said. She said she played the character of Miss Daisy for the first time about 8-9 years ago and thinks she has more to bring to the character now.
A recent project for Grassle was a local independent horror movie "Lasso." Some of the actors were cast locally, she said. The story is about a small group of seniors who are taken on a tour to the rodeo. The rodeo is peopled with psychotic cowboys, she said.
Grassle said she has never done horror.
"It was so terrific," she said. It was different than characters she's played, who were civil and ladylike, she said. "It felt fantastic to scream my head off."
Grassle is looking forward to seeing the museum and all the people. She said what she forgets as she goes about her own life is the impact "Little House" had on people's lives.
"It is gratifying to know that our work helped people and still provides an island of calm reassurance," Grassle said.

"Albert, do you REALLY think you are old enough to know what love is?"
"I must be Pa. I love you, I have for a long time."
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