Half-Pint Doll

I accidentally stumbled across this from Guiding Light back in 1998. Strangely enough I remember this sequence, but not the Little House on the Prairie reference. Normally I remember those.  Anyway the set up for this sequence was that a criminal on the run (Annie Dutton) has sent an artist doll that looks like herself to a little girl (Lizzie Spaulding). Harley Cooper (the girl’s soon-to-be step-mother) takes the doll back to her maker, Mrs. Beasley (a Family Affair joke – Mrs. Beasley was the little girl’s doll and is one of the most famous dolls in TV history) and when she’s trying to explain who she is she tells her that her mother (Nadine) had her make a Half-Pint doll from Little House on the Prairie. They don’t show the doll, but it sounds interesting. It probably had brown eyes a la Melissa Gilbert.

Sarah S. Uthoff is main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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Pa’s Beard

Pa’s beard has always been a huge bone of contention between TV show and book fans. Landon’s lack of a beard is almost always mentioned in early critiques of the show by book fans and I still hear mentioned on a regular basis today. Pa’s real beard was absolutely horrible and I have only seen one beard as ugly on a living person. I thought you might enjoy reading what they were saying about the beard at the time the show first came out.

Van Horn, Gail. “Walnut Grove residents celebrate fall TV show go-ahead.” Messenger Independent. 5 June 1974: 3B.

“An NBC press release notes, for those who know that Pa Ingalls always wore a full beard, illustrated by Garth Williams in Laura’s books, note that great pains were put into fitting Michael Landon with a beard, both of natural growth and by makeup artists. But it was decided that he just did not look good with any kind of facial hair. You may recall having seen Landon with a beard on one Bonanza show and so may know why the TV version of Pa will be beardless.”

UPDATE March 28, 2015: Nothing really to update. The formatting is still being strange and the information is still correct.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Lord is My Shepherd and Walnut Grove Humor

Normally I don’t do many posts about the Little House on the Prairie TV show, but one thing I always like to pass on about any show is where you can go to see where it was shot.  I came across a reference in a local paper to the filming of “The Lord is My Shepherd” episode. This is the one with Ernest Borgnine. In the episode Laura tries to convince God to let her change places with her dead baby brother, but he sends her angel Borgnine instead.

Prairie at McCone Sod Houses - Near Walnut Grove
Prairie at McCone Sod Houses – Near Walnut Grove

According to the Modesto Bee back on Sept. 3, 1974, exteriors were shot at Donnell’s Vista overlooking Donnell’s Reservoir and near Kennedy Meadows. Here’s a link to visitor information on Tuolumne County (where both are located) today.
http://tcvb.com

Now for the humor. The article says those two locations were chosen “because both places resemble mountains near Plum Creek”! If you’ve never been to Walnut Grove, there is lots of rolling prairie near Walnut Grove, lots of hills, but not anything even close to a foothill let alone a mountain.

UPDATE 2015: Prepping for the reblog I did some minor editing, updated the link, and added a photo. I’ll also pull up a comment from below:

Erik Reynolds Says:

The exterior long shots are from Stanislaus Meadow Trailhead.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Pomona Public Library

It all began when librarian Clara Webber was working in Alliance, Ohio. She began corresponding with Laura Ingalls Wilder. She later moved to California and was hired as children’s librarian at the Pomona Public Library. At the time they were in a Carnegie building that was bursting at the seams. The children’s room was less than inviting and as one of her first projects she set out to change it, with paint, new furniture, and “storybook picture fabric.” She also asked Laura if it would be all right to name the room for her. She replied that she would be delighted. Laura sent them a letter (see photo by following link below), a handwritten manuscript of “Little Town on the Prairie” and typescript of “By the Shores of Silver Lake.” She also sent an autographed photo and an autographed set of the books, and eventually a map where she marked all the places she had lived (she was a little off, she couldn’t find Walnut Grove she explained – probably because she was looking east of New Ulm). When a new library was built, it was decided not only would the name remain, but a special alcove off the children’s room would be built for Wilderana. Webber continued to build the collection of Wilder material and today has one of the best collections not at one of the homesites. This is the library mentioned in the only known recording of Laura’s voice when she is thanking the library in California.

They even reprinted some of their collected articles in a special booklet to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Laura’s birth. To celebrate that momentuous occasion, the Pomona Public Library held a gingerbread sociable in her honor. The Friends of the Pomona Public Library have held it every year since on the Saturday closest to Laura’s birthday. While it was not the first library to host one of these, they certainly have been holding it the longest. In the Summer 2004 issue of “The Homesteader,” I wrote a history of their Sociable, although I have learned more since.

http://www.homesteadernewsletter.com/pastissues.html

Early on a major attraction was a spelling bee which broke up over a controversy. Melissa Sue Anderson was a guest of honor one year and William Anderson was guest of honor another year. I still haven’t made it to one myself, but I hope to sometime. The children’s room is also known locally for a collection of dolls.

Follow the link below to the library’s own blog where they talk about their Wilder collection and show a collection of photos. I’ve added my comments about each one below the link.

http://pplchildrens.blogspot.com/2008/11/after-almost-year-of-blogging-i-havent.html

Photo 1 – Sign of Room from when the new library building opened.

Photo 2- Photo of Melissa Sue Anderson when she attended the Sociable in the early 1970s. Probably their highest attendence ever.

Photo 3 – Letter Laura sent for the dedication of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Children’s Room. It is quite similar to the one she sent for the Detriot opening. She apologizes in the letter that was enclosed with it that her thoughts don’t come as easily now that Almanzo had passed on.

Photos 4 & 5 – A sculptural wall map was put together based on a map Laura sent marking the approximate places she lived in blue ink and other information. Unfortunately it has been worn and needs some repair.

Photo 6 – Display case – Dolls from collection, early Laura booklets, photos of the family, a Harvey Dunn print, and pages from the Les Kelly calendar.

Photo 7 – A plate I’ve never seen, not sure if it’s specifically Wilder or generic pioneer. Sewell editions of the books (maybe their signed set?). In the lower right hand corner there appear to be dolls in the Barbara Brooks style, but not the family set.

Photo 8 – Carved Ingalls Family see my next post. They also appear in photo 9.

Photo 9 – More generic dolls plus a Charlotte and you can see part of the Barbara Brooks doll set (one of at least 3 sets she made) that Laura is describing in the only known recording of her voice. The set made for Laura is now on display at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Branch of the Wright County Library in Mansfield, Missouri and a second set is on display at the museum there.

Photo 10 – Some old clothes, some Laura plates and the current DeSmet version of the china shepherdess.

Photo 11 – More copies of the series in various editions.

Photo 12 – Manuscript in long hand, should be Little Town on the Prairie, but a little hard to read in the photo.

Photo 13 – More of the manuscript, a bound script of an episode of the TV show and some napkin rings labeled as Laura’s.

Holy Terror Days

There was a lot of interest this summer in the twins who played Carrie Ingalls on the Little House on the Prairie TV show coming to Walnut Grove MN (http://www.walnutgrove.org), but it turns out that they were also in Keystone for Holy Terror Days (named for a local gold mine). They have had several people come to Keystone, SD from the TV show and I imagine the crowds are generally less because I rarely hear much about it until after the fact. Carrie lived for many years in Keystone and although her house burned down in the 1970s, you can still see a display of her things at the Keystone Area Historical Society, including what the people in Keystone claim is the original china shepherdess.  Read about the event here:
http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2008/09/04/news/local/doc48bf6e041e2d4960671169.txt

and the Twins visit here:
http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2008/09/07/news/top/doc48c339c62dd07052573181.prt

TV Show DVD Release

Normally I don’t talk much about the TV show, but I wanted to share this article.
http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Little-House-Prairie-The-Complete-Series/10303

It looks like there is going to be a special collectors wagon package complete with 3 discs of extra features. No word if Dean Butler is producing them, but I hope that he is involved.

Where did Albert come from?

One of the biggest blows for TV show fans seems to be that Albert Ingalls did not exist in real life. Like many other characters and plots on the show, he came from Michael Landon’s imagination and I think probably in answer to a similar thought to one Dean Butler expressed in an interview from The Homesteader, “What’s Little Joe doing on a show with a bunch of little girls?”

Here’s what Landon himself said about the creation of the character shortly before his debut on the show. (The People article also features information about the other kids in cast and more background on the Laborteaux brothers, but you’ll have to get a copy for yourself!)
“Michael Landon’s Gutsy TV Kids Have Faced Bigger Problems in Life than on the Prairie” by Sue Reilly. People Weekly Sept. 11, 1978  This quote appears on p. 96.

“Patrick [Laborteaux] joined the Little House cast last year, and then Landon remembered a promise he’d made to some friends whose son was killed in a car crash – ‘that if I ever found a boy who had Albert’s qualities I would put him on the show and call him Albert.’ Matthew [Laborteaux], who had already played Landon himself as a boy in flashbacks, debuts this fall as Albert.”

UPDATE: Not a lot to update since I originally posted this. People are still asking where Albert came from and this is in my top 20 highest ranking posts. I can add that Patrick Laborteaux (Matthew’s brother) who played Andrew Garvey on Little House on the Prairie went on to play Lt. Cmdr. Bud Roberts on the series JAG. Today you can follow him on Twitter. Looks like he hasn’t check in lately, but when he has an upcoming project he goes active. https://twitter.com/PLabyorteaux

UPDATED January 14, 2016: I fixed some continuing space issues and updated the signature block.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.