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See the Beloved ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Cast Then and Now

It's been 40 years since the show ended — find out what they are up to now

The beloved television series Little House on the Prairie was not only one of the most popular shows of the 1970s and early 1980s, but of all time. It brought a comforting, relatable and uplifting cast of characters to our living rooms over the span of nine seasons, more than 200 episodes and three movies.

And almost 50 years after it first debuted, the legacy of Little House is still going strong. Here, we take a walk down memory lane and revisit the history, longevity and see the Little House on the Prairie cast then and now.

The origins of Little House on the Prairie

The Little House on the Prairie novels, which were inspired by author Laura Ingalls Wilder’s pioneer childhood in the 1870s and 1880s, have sold more than 60 million copies, been translated into more than 30 languages, and delighted families as the source material for the beloved show.

Wilder wrote the first book, Little House in the Big Woods, in 1932; the eighth and last “official” Little House book, These Happy Golden Years, was published in 1943 (a ninth book, The First Four Years, is widely considered a final installment and was published in 1971, a few years after Wilder’s death at the age of 90).

The books chronicled the life of five-year-old Laura Ingalls growing up in a midwestern cabin with her two sisters, mother and father. The stories provide readers with wholesome vignettes of what life was like on their homestead as they navigated harsh winters, a lack of food and the everyday problems that would arise amongst their family unit.

Love for the novels and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life recently inspired Wilder an eight-part Podcast series looking at the work and impact of the American storyteller, co-created by Jo Piazza, Glynnis MacNicol and Emily Marinoff. “This is my childhood fantasy come to life. Laura’s books have been read by millions,” MacNicol teases in the podcast’s premiere episode. “In many ways, her story is the American story of being on the road. As a young girl, she traveled thousands of miles in a covered wagon, her family in search of a better life. She’s a Hollywood Western. She’s Jack Kerouac, but in a nap dress with braids.”

When did Little House on the Prairie show first air?

After the end of Bonanza, NBC executives approached star Micheal Landon with the idea of producing a 2-hour made-for-TV film based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books.

In the film, the family moves from Wisconsin to Kansas, as the “Big Woods” where they had been living had become too populated. Here, they begin building a home and meet Mr. Edwards, a man who helps the family settle into their new life. The family navigates a slew of obstacles over this period of time, but ultimately live a content life in their new home. In the end, however, the government makes them leave the Native land they settled on, and they move onward to the next place they will call home.

It aired in 1974 and was a ratings hit, and since it had a sort-of cliffhanger ending, the network got thousands of inquiries from viewers asking “What happened next?” Thus, the Little House on the Prairie series was born.

The Little House on The Prairie cast

The Ingalls family brought to life from Wilder’s beloved books became a part of our lives and has since charmed the next generations. Since the show’s end in 1983 the cast has changed tremendously — and some have sadly passed away — but they will all live on in our hearts. Here’s a look at where they are now.

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