Melissa Gilbert remembers 'Little House' co-star Katherine MacGregor: 'Her Harriet Oleson was the woman our fans loved to hate'

In real life, Little House on the Prairie’s Mrs. Oleson was beloved by the people who spent years with her in Walnut Grove.

Katherine “Scottie” MacGregor, who played the town’s nosy, gossipy wife of the storekeeper on all nine seasons of the TV drama, died Tuesday in Woodland Hills, Calif., at 93. Within hours, her co-stars began speaking out to offer fond recollections of her.

Katherine “Scottie” MacGregor plays Harriet Oleson in <em>Little House on the Prairie</em>. (Photo: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Katherine “Scottie” MacGregor plays Harriet Oleson in Little House on the Prairie. (Photo: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Melissa Gilbert, who played the main character of Laura Ingalls Wilder, described MacGregor as “outspoken” and “hilariously funny.” She added, “The thing people outside of our prairie family didn’t know, was how loving and nurturing she was with the younger cast.” Gilbert was just 9 when the show premiered.

Alison Arngrim, who played MacGregor’s bratty daughter, Nellie, proclaimed, “Long live the immortal Katherine MacGregor!”

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Long live our beautiful Harriet. Long live the immortal Katherine MacGregor!

A post shared by Alison Arngrim (@alisonarngrim) on Nov 14, 2018 at 7:55am PST

Arngrim elaborated in her 2011 memoir, Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, in which she described MacGregor as someone who regularly performed as loudly as if she were doing theater (where MacGregor often worked) and dished out unsolicited acting advice to her co-stars.

“Now, in theory, Katherine should have been a disaster. One would think that, with all of this lunacy and forgetting and overacting and ordering people around, her performance would be awful, that she would be fired,” Arngrim wrote. “Nothing could have been further from the truth. When she came on the screen, there was no one else there. Her performance was mesmerizing, hilarious, outrageous, and, on those occasions when Mrs. Oleson was in one of her pouting and wounded moments, even weirdly moving. Her acting was absolute genius.”

She added that the show “could not function without [MacGregor].”

One of the youngest members of the cast, Melissa Francis (Cassandra), backed up Arngrim’s raves of their co-star.

Not surprisingly, Little House fans were missing MacGregor too.

Mrs. Oleson would undoubtedly appreciate the recognition.

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