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July 18, 2012
Miss Beadle holds class
Charlotte Stewart who played Miss Beadle on the Little House series made a weekend appearance in Walnut Grove
WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) -- Walnut Grove — Saturday morning Charlotte Stewart (Miss Beadle) was well received by Little House fans as she signed autographs and had pictures taken on the Wilder Museum grounds.
At the Family Festival Stewart and Wilder author William Anderson appeared together. Anderson talked of his writing about the Ingalls and their influence on Walnut Grove.
He said “the Ingalls were very active in the community, church, and school. Laura and Mary walked into town to go to school. Miss Beadle their teacher had a strong influence on Laura’s writing later in life.”
Anderson then introduced Stewart to the audience.
Stewart. who was raised in Yuba City, California. noted that Walnut Grove reminded her of where she was raised. Yuba City was an agricultural area a lot like here. She said “the corn and bean fields here are just beautiful to see.”
Growing up as a child she remembers swimming in the irrigation ditches, and when she was older she remembered working on the almond orchards.
“When I turned 17 I told my parents I wanted to become an actor” Stewart said, something that took her parents by surprise. When they realized she was serious they looked at an acting school in Pasadena. After her schooling in theatre, she landed her first acting job at 19, it was a religious show. She also had guest appearances on My Three Sons, and Gunsmoke.
Her first big break came when she was asked by Paramount studio to read for the part of Miss Beadle in Little House on the Prairie. She actually read for the part to Michael Landon.
She asked Landon if she could read the part from the desk in the room. As she read the part she treated Landon as if he were a student. She discovered later Landon thought it was very funny.
Stewart also noted there were several others waiting to read and they were all in costume, which she thought was silly at the time.
She had no idea the role was a continuous role, until she was notified a couple of days later, when she received a contract for 4 years. “I was surprised and delighted,” she said. “I had never read any of the books either.”
Stewart remembered thinking how young Melissa Gilbert, Melissa Sue Anderson, and Alison Arngrim were when she started the show.
Since there was quite an age difference between them, Stewart said, “we didn’t spend much time together until they grew up, since then we have become very good friends.”
Stewart opened the session to questions.
One question was “Did you ever get emotional during the ‘Blizzard’ episode?” She said “as an actor we were encouraged to try to reflect the emotions of the character we were playing.”
There were several episodes where she took the blame for putting the children in harms way.
After one of those episodes Michael Landon said, “Miss Beadle killed the kids again,” she mused.
One person asked why they had two blackboards in the class room? She explained they actually had several blackboards that she had written lessons on. They changed the blackboards to reflect the kids that were in the scene.
She was asked what Willie Oleson was like in real life? “He was a pain in the neck, he was always getting into mischief,” she said. Willie was the real life brother of Melissa Gilbert.
One person asked if she ever had a crush on Michael Landon? She got a big laugh when she replied, “what woman wouldn’t! Most of the women had a crush on him.”
She commented, that Landon demanded professionalism, you had to be on time — and prepared to work, but he also was know as a huge practical joker.
She still keeps in contact with most of the cast. “Kathryn MacGregor is a dear friend of mine. About three years ago we did the today show together,” said Stewart.
On a recent visit to the set in Simi Valley, Stewart was surprised when she didn’t see the creek. She laughed when she was told the creek is gone because it was built as part of the set.
She said, “when I got into costume I felt like I was in Walnut Grove.
Miss Beadle pulled a page from the past asking youngsters to participate in an impromptu spelling bee.
During the spelling bee Alison Arngrim popped in as a surprise visitor. She invited the crowd to return next week when she will be here on an official visit.
Following her presentation Stewart signed autographs for an hour.
It is not unusual for the weather to really heat up around pageant time, and this year is no different than most.
After a very comfortable weekend the previous week the second weekend was a tad bit warmer. Although there was a bit of breeze blowing through the park making the Family Festival fairly comfortable.
Beside the usual events in the park including craft activities for the kiddies, such as games and many more activities. Weaving, and woodcarving were demonstrated. Kids made corn husk dolls.
Bob Bovee, and Gail Heil performed two sessions of folk music.
Of course there was no shortage of food available — from ice cream cones, egg rolls, to coney dogs and much more.
There were several craft and flea market vendors selling their wares.
The Wilder Museum and Information Center was a popular place where people hung around to not only see the displays but take respite from the extreme heat. Of course Charlotte Stewart had three autograph sessions on the museum grounds.
Saturday morning the Walnut Grove Area Loggers held their annual Fishing Derby for kids. The kids were awarded prizes, and hot dogs and pop were served to the hungry anglers.
In the afternoon the Plum Creek Rendezvous held a black powder shoot starting at 1:00 p.m. along with other pioneer activities.
Family Festival week three
Next week will be another big weekend highlighted with the Family Festival Saturday morning and afternoon.
Little House Star Alison Arngrim (Nellie Olson) will make a guest appearance speaking and signing autographs.
There will be live entertainment by Joel Schaan and Scott Devlon, Lucio Family Dance Troupe — Native American Dance and History.
Kids activities, craft and vendor sales, food and much more. The Zoo Express Great Plains Zoo will present an interactive program about animals and conservation.
There will be an art exhibit “Paths of Hope” by Tina Anderson, from 3:00 to 7:00 Friday and Saturday at the community center.
Of course the Wilder Pageant “Fragments of a Dream” will be presented Friday and Saturday nights starting at 9:00.
Don’t miss an exciting time in Walnut Grove this weekend.
Pageant attendance for last weekend was 782 for Friday night, and 1375 for Saturday night, pushing the two week total to 4950. With one more week to go the pageant should surpass last years attendance of under 6,000.
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