'Little House on the Prairie': Why Harriet Oleson Actor Katherine MacGregor Was a No-Show in the Series' Finale
When Little House on the Prairie was in its final episodes and aired its finale “The Last Farewell,” Katherine MacGregor who portrayed Harriet Oleson was nowhere near Walnut Grove.
The actor was one of the series’ most popular and colorful characters but she couldn’t make it to join the cast in taking a final bow.
MacGregor was known on the ‘Little House’ set for her constant advice
The Harriet Oleson actor who went by the nickname “Scotty” was a dedicated actor according to her co-star Alison Arngrim who played her on-screen daughter Nellie Oleson. Part of her personality, Arngrim wrote in her memoir Confessions of a Prairie B*tch, was to make sure all other actors on the show’s set were performing as she felt they should.
There were cast members that welcomed the suggestions.
“Some people didn’t mind,” Arngrim wrote. “Dean Butler, when he first started playing Almanzo, seemed to actively seek out her advice. Karen Grassle, Ma herself, even joined [Katherine] at the acting class she was attending.”
Then there were others that did not want her advice, such as Richard Bull, who portrayed her husband Nels Oleson on the historical drama.
“Richard Bull was strictly ‘no sale.’ He even spoke in an interview about how he loved [Katherine] dearly, but that on the first day of shooting, he had to explain to her, ‘No Katherine. You don’t tell me how to act. You can do anything you want, except that,’” Arngrim recalled.
She was not fond of this cast member
MacGregor, who died in 2018, was not shy in the least about expressing her opinions and thoughts openly. She would even change a script’s lines if she didn’t like them, which Arngrim stated “drove Michael [Landon] and [show producer] Bill Claxton nearly insane.”
As for Landon, one of the opinions MacGregor stoutly declared was her lack of affection for the show’s director and principal actor.
“[Landon] was hard not to notice,” Arngrim wrote. “He didn’t walk. He strutted. He swaggered. Like a peacock. His aura annoyed some people in the cast. I remember Katherine MacGregor telling me she disliked him on sight when, at her audition, he strutted into the room. ‘Like a baby bantam rooster!,’ she howled.”
Why Harriet Oleson wasn’t in ‘Little House’s final episodes
The actor, whose real name was Dorlee Deane MacGregor, appeared in the 1954 film On the Waterfront. She also guest-starred in various television series including East Side/West Side, Mannix, Emergency!, All in the Family, and Ironside.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, MacGregor didn’t appear in the show’s final episodes and especially not in its finale episode for religious reasons.
As a practicing Hindu, MacGregor was on a pilgrimage to India during the finale and couldn’t make her final curtain call on the beloved television series.
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