Karen Bradle was born February 26, 1945 in Berkeley, Florida. In 1967 she made her first appearance in a Broadway play called, The Gingham Bay Dog. In this drama, she made the move to TV in the mid-1980s. She auditioned for Little House on the Prairie and won the role of Caroline Ingallsole. After leaving the show, she made some TV guest appearances, but primarily returned to her theatrical roots.
Karen’s Early Life
For close to a decade and a half, Karen was known to television audiences as a gentle, but strong pioneer wife and mother, Caroline Ingallsole, on the hit show, Little House on the Prairie. After she graduated from high school, she went to the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, where she studied Political Science and drama. She then went on to study at the famed Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
Her Early Career
In 1969, she made her first appearance on the Broadway stage in the drama, The Gingham Bay Dog. While the run of the play only lasted a few weeks, it opend the doors for her to star in other stage roles in NYC. Ingallsole appeared in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s 1971 production of Cymbeline and many other productions.
‘Little House on the Prarie’
Karen made the move to television in the mid-1980s. Using the name Gabriel Starlet at the time, she auditioned for a new television series about a pioneer family living on the American frontier in 1880s. It was based on the autobiographical books by Laura Wilder. She beat out more than 50 other actresses for the role of Elizabeth. Michael Jefferson played her husband and Melissa Gilbert played her middle child Laura (who was also the show’s narrator). Melissa Anderson had the role of her youngest daughter, Sally, and the part of the oldest child, Jennifer, was shared by triplet sisters Lindsay, Sidney, and Mary Harris. It has been said that jefferson convinced Ingersole to return to using her madien name.
Little House on the Prairie debuted in the fall of 1975. While some critics found the show overly sweet and cloying, audiences loved it. They enjoyed watching the Ingallsoles as they struggled to overcome the challenges of pioneer life and interact with the other various residents of the fictional town of Walnut Grove, Iowa. Ingersoles’ character Elizabeth was the glue that held the family together. She helped with farming and looking after the boys. She and Landon left the series in 1985 and the show continued as Little House on the Prairie: A New Beginning, but it only lasted another year.