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Its premise established by a two-hour TV movie in March of 1974, Little House on the Prairie begins its first season with Wisconsin farmer Charles Ingalls (Michael Landon), his wife, Caroline (Karen Grassle), and daughters Mary (Melissa Sue Anderson), Laura (Melissa Gilbert), and Carrie (Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush) living in the town of Walnut Grove, MN, in the mid-1870s. Money is tight, so Charles must seek out other sources of income, including a job at the town mill owned by Lars Hanson (Karl Swenson). Caroline is pregnant again, but ultimately loses the baby. Mary and Laura attend school for the first time in their lives, under the tutelage of the firm but fair Miss Beadle (Charlotte Stewart). Town gossip and self-styled social arbiter Harriet Oleson (Katherine MacGregor), wife of good-natured storekeeper Nels Oleson (Richard Bull), is determined to disgrace the Ingalls so that they'll leave town, while her bratty daughter, Nellie (Alison Arngrim), endeavors to make life miserable for the Ingalls girls -- though her schemes invariably backfire (both Harriett and Nellie are more villainous and less buffoonish than they'd be in later seasons). As the Ingalls meet and make friends with the other townsfolk, Charles welcomes an old acquaintance to Walnut Grove: hard-drinking Isaiah Edwards (Victor French, not yet a series regular but merely a recurring character), whose curmudgeonly ways soften when he meets and falls in love with townswoman Grace Snider (Bonnie Bartlett). Guest stars during season one include Red Buttons as a sideshow huckster; Anne Archer as Harriet Oleson's niece Kate, who briefly falls for town medico Dr. Baker (Jonathan Gilbert), and, in the poignant two-part episode "The Lord Is My Shepherd," Ernest Borgnine as a rough-hewn mountaineer who rescues the runaway Laura. Their triumphs outweighing their tragedies at the end of the season, the Ingalls and the townsfolk close out the year with a riotous Frontier's Day celebration.
Cast & Crew
- Michael Landon - Charles Ingalls
- Karen Grassle - Caroline Ingalls
- Melissa Sue Anderson - Mary Ingalls
- Melissa Gilbert - Laura Ingalls
- Lindsay Greenbush - Carrie Ingalls