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'Little House on the Prairie' stars enjoy happy, tearful reunion

"It's a very emotional experience, especially because we were together for so long," Laura Ingalls actress Melissa Gilbert says. "We were a family there."
By Annie Martin   |   May 1, 2014 at 10:12 AM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, May 1 (UPI) -- Seven Little House on the Prairie stars and late actor Michael Landon's son reunited Wednesday.

Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls), Karen Grassie (Caroline "Ma" Ingalls), Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls), Lindsay Greenbush (Carrie Ingalls), Dean Butler (Almanzo James Wilder), Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Matthew Labyorteaux (Albert Quinn Ingalls) and Michael Landon Jr. (son of Michael Landon, Charles "Pa" Ingalls) came together on the Today show for a happy, tearful reunion.

"I got tears in my eyes," Grassie admits after the Little House opening scene is shown. "First of all, I'm sitting here with these three daughters, really for the first time since Michael's funeral. And then to see them coming running [in the clip] ... just kills me. I'm not really that sentimental."

"Yeah, well I'm a crier anyway," Gilbert chimes in. "And I'm also incredibly co-dependent. So Ma goes, I go, I guess. It's a very emotional experience, especially because we were together for so long, and it was an intense experience. We were a family there."

Little House on the Prairie ran for nine seasons from 1974-1983 on NBC. The series is loosely based on the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and follows Charles Ingalls, his wife Caroline and their four daughters, Mary, Laura, Carrie and Grace, as they live on a Minnesotan farm in the late 1880s. Other characters include general store owners Nels (Richard Bull) and Harriet Oleson (Katherine MacGregor) and their spoiled children, Nellie and Willie (Jonathan Gilbert).

Nellie was a longtime adversary of the Ingalls girls, and a character fans loved to hate. When asked if strangers instantly disliked her during the show's run, Arngrim answers, "Still."

"It's quite difficult," she relates. "I was pelted with a cup of orange soda ... in the Santa Claus Lane Hollywood Christmas Parade."

"People kind of love the villains [nowadays]," she says with a smile.

The actors and Michael Landon Jr. took a moment to honor Landon, who portrayed Pa and executive produced the series. The actor died of cancer in 1991, and Landon Jr. recalls that his father put as much emphasis on family in real life as he did on the show.

"The great thing about the series was the hours that my father set," he says. "It doesn't happen anymore, but he was always home for dinner."

"I wish Michael could see what [the show] still means to people," Grassie adds.

Seasons one and two of Little House on the Prairie have been digitally remastered in HD and are currently available on Blu-ray.

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