Karen Grassle Now at 80 She played Ma on Little House On The Prairie

Ma, a.k.a. Ma, was a character that Little House on the Prairie fans would never forget. For eight seasons of the show, Karen Grassle played Caroline Ingalls. The persona continues to serve as an inspiration for Grassle even today. In 2021, the actor told the New York Post, "Caroline was a tremendously powerful woman with a nature full of texture." She embodies a spirit worth imitating. 

Grassle hasn't portrayed Ma on the show in 40 years, but at age 80, she's still performing. The performer can be seen on TV as well as stage, where she first gained notoriety before Little House. Continue reading to learn more about her current life, including her most recent roles and extracurricular activities. 

At age 80, Grassle is still employed. 

Grassle appeared in a number of TV movies and episodes of Murder, She Wrote, The Love Boat, and Hotel around the same time as Little House on the Prairie was airing on television. Her on-screen career later, after the 1980s, tapered down. She acted in the 1994 film Wyatt Earp, but she didn't do any further film and television work until 2011. She most recently appeared in the movies Lasso (2017) and Not to Forget (2021). 

She pursues a career in theater as well. 

Grassle pursued theater studies at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and the University of California at Berkeley. She was performing on stage in New York City, including on Broadway, when she was cast in Little House on the Prairie. 

Grassle has kept on acting in plays. She recently performed in an Ontario, Canada production of On Golden Pond at the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia, which she posted on Instagram. 

Bright Lights, Prairie Dust: Reflections on Life, Loss, and Love by House's Ma was published by Grassle in 2021. The author recounts events from her personal life as well as her experiences filming Little House on the Prairie, including her occasionally tense relationship with co-star Michael Landon. Grassle elaborates on her difficulties with alcohol and her experiences remaining clean since the late 1970s. 

She talks about discovering the bond she has with her character in one passage of the book. I was unaware that my genuine desires were stability, a husband who shared my values, and my own children, Grassle writes (via the New York Post). "I had no idea that I desired what Caroline Ingalls actually possessed." 

She cherishes her time spent with her son. 

Three marriages later, in 1997, Grassle divorced her third husband. Zach Radford, a son, was born to her and her second husband, James Allen Radford, in 1985. On her Instagram page, the actor occasionally shares photos of their time together, like his most recent birthday party. "Several years ago, my son, Zach Radford, an IT guy by trade, moved to this area and that has enhanced my life immeasurably," the author wrote on her website. "Though he doesn't expect to stay here. Maybe he has to roam until he finds his home. In the meantime, we hike in the hills and the redwoods, go tide pooling by the Pacific, and meet to eat and visit." 

Little House on the Prairie fans can be met at conferences by Grassle. She reconnected with her co-stars Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson, at a recent conference. 

Grassle posted on Instagram, "I am still so happy at how much fun I had with @melissagilbertofficial and @alisonarngrim at Fanboy Expo last weekend.


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