Berkeley, California, U.S.
Claim to Fame
Little House on the Prairie
Has Detailed Data (New)
Profile Bio Text
Karen Trust Grassle (born February 25, 1942 in Berkeley, California) is an American actress, best known for her role as Caroline Ingalls, the mother of Laura Ingalls Wilder, on the Little House on the Prairie TV series. She graduated from Ventura High School in 1959 (after skipping two grades), serving as the student body`s vice-president, and afterwards enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley. She graduated with two BA degrees in 1965, one in English, the other in Dramatic Art. She received a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and eventually became head of its Voice Department. Her first acting job in New York City was in the Gingham Tree, and she began calling herself “Gabriel Tree”. Grassle (as Gabriel Tree) auditioned for the role of the mother, Caroline Ingalls, in the Little House on the Prairie TV series, and won the part against 47 other candidates. Michael Landon convinced her to revert to her birth name. The series ran for nine seasons, from 1974 to 1983. In an interview, Grassle said that she loved playing the role of "Caroline Ingalls". She said it made her feel like she was part of a great big family. It was during this time period that she also played Kathy, the wife of Edward Herrmann`s title character in Harry`s War, a 1981 feature film.
After the series ended, she moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where she remained active in theater. She would later become co-founder of Sante Fe’s Resource Theatre Company, also serving as the art director. Eventually, she moved back to California, where she lives with her daughter. In 2006, she performed in Driving Miss Daisy in the starring role of Miss Daisy at the Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. In August 2008, Grassle agreed to sign up as the promotional face for Premier Bathrooms, a supplier of bathing products for the elderly and infirm due to her association with the character of Caroline Ingalls` extolling care and family values. Grassle has been married three times. Her first husband was actor Leon Russom. In 1982, she married J. Allen Radford, a real-estate developer, with whom she adopted a daughter, Lily. In 1991 she married Dr. Scott T. Sutherland, a psychiatrist. Single, she lives in Pacific Palisades with her adopted daughter, Lily.
Couple Profile Source
Ventura High School in 1959
University of California at Berkeley in 1964
Full Name at Birth
Karen Trust Grassle
Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts
Gene Grassle (father) (gas station manager)
Leon Russom (1st Husband), J. Alan Radford (2nd Husband), Lily Radford (adopted daughter)
Michael Landon (actor/director)
Theater Actress, Television Actress
Melissa Gibert (actress), Melissa Sue Anderson (actress), Sidney Greenbush (actress), Lindsay Greenbush (actress)
Karen Trust Grassle (born February 25, 1942) is an American actress, known for her role as Caroline Ingalls, the wife of Michael Landon's character and the mother of Melissa Gilbert's character, in the NBC television drama series Little House on the Prairie.
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