For the Love of Books | Wine and Cheese Author Chat | Special Guest Karen Grassle | Hosted by Amanda Ward

Location: Treehouse Lake Room

August 3, 2022 5:00 pm

Karen Grassle is known around the world for her portrayal of the iconic character of “Ma” on Little House on the Prairie. Karen grew up beside the Pacific Ocean in Ventura, California, where she lived until graduating from high school. While studying at the University of California at Berkeley, she discovered her calling and began to pursue training in acting. She joined the esteemed Actor’s Workshop in San Francisco, studied at the Pasadena Playhouse, graduated from UC Berkeley, and received a Fulbright to study in London at the famed London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

While living in New York City, Karen worked at resident theatres all over the country and trained as a Linklater Voice teacher to keep the “wolf from the door.” Within a couple of years of arriving in New York, she made her Broadway debut, later appearing in the NY Shakespeare Festival in Central Park with such luminaries as Sam Waterston and Christopher Walken.

A role in an independent movie drew her back to California where the film promptly fell through and left her stranded. This was the situation when she received a fateful phone call and was asked to meet about a new TV show called Little House on the Prairie. Steeped in Shakespeare and the theatre, Karen asked “Michael Landon? Which one of the brothers from Bonanza is he?”

During her years on television, Karen co-created the TV movie Battered and advocated for women’s issues. After 8 seasons on Little House, Karen married and she and her husband adopted a baby, fulfilling Karen’s dream to be a mom. Although the marriage did not succeed, she was grateful to have the opportunity to be a mother. She continued to appear on television and also stood by on Broadway for Mary Tyler Moore and Lynn Redgrave. She has continued to work in major roles, spending six years at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and later, at theatres near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as around the U.S. and Canada. Her most recent film is Not to Forget, a lighthearted story that revolves around the issue of dementia and family.

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