Fun Facts from Little House on the Prairie & The Waltons



After all these years, “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Waltons” are still recognized as two of the greatest family series’ to grace our TV screens. This perennially popular pairing can be seen back-to-back on weekday afternoons on VisionTV.

Join us on weekday afternoons as “Little House on the Prairie” (4pm ET/1pm PT) and “The Waltons” (5pm ET/2pm PT) take us back to simpler times and remind us of the importance of sticking with your family and friends through thick and thin.

In celebration of these family classics on VisionTV, we’d like to take a look at some fun facts associated with “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Waltons.”

“Little House on the Prairie”

Landon’s Grey Area 

Even though Michael Landon may have had desirable chestnut locks when playing Charles Ingalls, that was not the actors’ true hair colour. In fact, Landon prematurely went grey while in his 20s, thus forcing him to resort to dying his hair regularly. This sometimes became a problem, however, as the amount of sun and heat on the set regularly faded Landon’s hair, thus interrupting how/when a scene could be filmed. 

Nellie and Laura: Foes Can be Friends

Laura Ingalls and Nellie Oleson may have been onscreen archenemies, but the actresses who portrayed them – Melissa Gilbert and Alison Arngrim – were super close while filming and remain best friends to this day.

Little House on the Prairie - Sean Penn

Penn-cil Him In

Award-winning and critically acclaimed actor Sean Penn made his acting debut during the season one episode, “The Voice of Tinker Jones.” In the episode, (which was directed by Penn’s father Leo) the then 13-year-old had an un-credited role as a school child.

A Baby-Faced Bateman 

Before Jason Bateman went on to star in hit TV series’ like “Silver Spoons,” “The Hogan Family,” “Arrested Development” and a continually growing list of box office triumphs, a young Bateman played the Ingalls’ adopted son, John Cooper. 

And the Academy Award Goes to…

During its time on the air, “Little House on the Prairie” featured appearances from a number of Academy Award-winning actors and actresses. The impressive list includes: Ernest Borgnine, Patricia Neal, Burl Ives, Red Buttons, Eileen Heckart, Lou Gossett, Jr., Ralph Bellamy, as well as the aforementioned Sean Penn.

Little House on the Prairie

“The Waltons”

Where They Came From 

“The Waltons” TV series was originally inspired by Earl Hamner Jr.’s 1961 book, “Spencer’s Mountain.” Interestingly, it was the qualities and traits of Hamner Jr.’s seven siblings that played a big role in how the series’ characters were developed.

Good Company

Before actor John Ritter struck it big as Jack Tripper on “Three’s Company,” he appeared on 18 episodes of “The Waltons” from 1972-1976 as Reverend Matthew Fordwick.

John Ritter - The Waltons

Showered in Awards 

During its nine-season run, “The Waltons” won two Golden Globe Awards, five Primetime Emmy Awards, as well as a pair of People’s Choice Awards. In 2013, the series was inducted into the Online Film & Television Association Hall of Fame.

Twilight of His Career

In addition to creating “The Waltons,” Earl Hamner Jr. also wrote eight episodes of “The Twilight Zone” from 1962-64.

John Walton Sr.

A Hit Machine

After portraying John Walton Sr., actor Ralph Waite also appeared in a number of other long-running, hit television series’ and soap operas like “Days of Our Lives,” “NCIS,” “Bones,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “CSI.”

-Adam Grant

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