WALNUT GROVE - Actress Charlotte Stewart has staked out a corner of film history working with David Lynch on surreal dramas "Eraserhead" and "Twin Peaks," but to legions of devoted fans she will always be Miss Beadle, the school marm on the "Little House on the Prairie" TV series.
On Saturday fans came from far and near to see the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant in its second weekend.
Sue Francis from Tilton, Ill., came to the Wilder Pageant directly from the "Laurapalooza" conference in Mankato. Francis is a life-long fan, and has a special fascination for Wilder.
Photo by Steve Browne
Actress Charlotte Stewart, who played school marm Miss Beadle on the “Little House on the Prairie” TV series, answered questions about the series in the Walnut Grove City Park on Saturday.
"I'm a seventh cousin of Laura," Francis said. "I brought my girlfriend from Austria.
Stewart made an appearance at the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum, and then at the city park where fans had a chance to ask what they've always wanted to know about the series and the actors.
Stewart told fans about her specific input into the series.
"We had two blackboards on the schoolroom set," Stewart said. "I was concerned with authenticity and consistency and didn't think we should have the same stuff on the blackboard. So I went to the prop department and had six blackboards made up, one with Longfellow's "The Lady of the Lake" written out in longhand, a spelling lesson, some math problems, etcetera."
One little girl asked if the character of Willie Oleson was naughty in real life.
"Willie was a pain in the neck in real life!" Stewart said. "They based his character on him. He (Jonathan Gilbert) was Melissa Gilbert's little brother you know."
Did she ever have a crush on Michael Landon, one fan wanted to know.
"Who wouldn't!" Stewart replied. "Everybody had a crush on Michael. He was easy to like and very handsome."
Another fan wanted to know if Landon was hard to work with.
"He not only acted, but wrote and directed the episodes," Stewart said. "It was a lot of responsibility and he was a perfectionist. You showed up on time and knew your lines, but if you did you went home early. He believed in family and wanted his people to have a family life. He was a practical joker, too. He was wonderful to work for, if you did your job, too."
One young fan asked why she didn't send Nellie to the corner.
"Because Nellie was never wrong," Stewart said. "Nellie was stuck up but she was very smart."
Another wanted to know if Stewart knew anything about horses when she joined the series.
"Not a thing," Stewart said. "That scene where I was in a runaway wagon and got thrown out, that was my stunt double Patty Elder."
Stewart said this was her first time in Walnut Grove and she liked what she saw of it, though she was staying at a bed and breakfast in Tracy.
Asked if she would be returning to the pageant, Stewart replied, "If they ask me."
Next weekend the special guest of the pageant will be actress Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson on the TV series.