'Little House on the Prairie' actress Katherine MacGregor dies at 93

Lewis Collier
November 15, 2018

Actress Katherine MacGregor, best known to TV audiences for her role as town gossiper Harriet Oleson on the long-running family drama Little House on the Prairie, has died at the age of 93.

Katherine MacGregor played the flawless villain on the series. She moved to NY in 1949 to study acting and was later cast on Broadway in the late 1950s.

Before her nine-year run on Little House, MacGregor's TV credits included guest-starring and bit roles on such series as Mannix, Emergency! and Ironside.

Prior to Little House, MacGregor appeared on stage on and off Broadway in NY and other state's productions including The Seven Year It and Handful of Fire. "I was used to doing juicy parts on the stage". And I read them all and I thought they were absolutely charming. "And I said, 'Who did you say I'm supposed to meet?' She said, 'Michael Landon.' And I said, 'Well, who's he?'"

MacGregor's character Harriet and her daughter Nellie were the nemesis of the Ingalls family.

Upon landing the role in 1974, she tried to inject humor into it, rather than making Mrs. Oleson "black-and-white mean". So I began mixing farce into it.

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Ultimately, she was unable to film the final episode in the series in 1983; she was on pilgrimage in India at the time, focusing on her Hindu faith.

Her screen career consisted of tiny film roles and TV guest spots before she landed on Little House on the Prairie, the TV series based on a beloved book series that author Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her childhood.

Tribute: MacGregor's onscreen daughter Arngrim wrote: 'Long live our attractive Harriet. "Long live our attractive Harriet". Long live the immortal Katherine MacGregor!'

MacGregor was married twice for brief times; she Wednesday Edward G. Kaye-Martin in 1969, and divorced him the following year. The first, to actor Bert Remsen, was from 1949 to 1950.

Her representative Tony Sears says MacGregor died Tuesday at the Motion Picture and Television Fund retirement community in Los Angeles.

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