Bonnie Bartlett (Grace Edwards) Exclusive Interview!
Hi Bonnie, Thanks for being interviewed for PrairieFans.com! Wow,
It's been 30 years now since Little House first aired on TV. What do
you think of it's success after so many years? Would you have
thought it would still be as popular today as it was many years ago?
The stories of The Little House on the Prairie have been popular since I can remember. Little girls have been reading those books for a long time. If Michael Landon's "Little House on the Prairie" TV show is still as popular that's amazing.
I understand that there may be a new version done in a very different way, since there was disagreement in the beginning about the vision of the show. I told Michael that it was a western fairytale. I loved doing it but it was certainly not reality. Obviously, his vision sold and continues to sell.
2. We all loved you as Grace Edward's, but it's not the first time you have been on television or in films. In fact you have a career that is longer than my arms and is still growing. Amazing! You must be proud of the success you have had over the years. As an actress, what would you say out of all the roles you have currently done so far has made the most impact personally and professionally on your career?
On television my best role and best material has definitely been playing Ellen Craig on "St. Elsewhere". The material was extraordinary and I won two Emmy's for Best Supporting Actress. It was quite a high.
3. How did you get the role of Grace Edward's? Was it competitive?
When we arrived in California in 1973 [having lived and worked in NYC on TV and the Stage], my husbands agent sent me to the casting director of Little House. There was a part coming up immediately and that afternoon he sent me to read for and meet Michael. No, there was no competition. Michael made every decision himself and quickly.
4. What was it like to be on Little House? Any found memories you wouldn't mind sharing about your experience?
I adored working on Little House. Michael was a wonderful boss and the whole cast was terrific. I particularly enjoyed my scenes with Melissa Gilbert who was 10 or 11 at the time. Unfortunately, we are political enemies as far Screen Actors Guild is concerned. I used to mess up with the props sometimes, being so involved in my "acting" that I'd pour coffee onto the ground instead of the cup. Michael loved mistakes like this and would laugh and tease me in front of everybody.
5. Who would you say on the set made the biggest impression on you personally?
Michael Landon was the strongest person on the set, he ran the whole show and was like the benevolent dictator. For one scene with Mr. Edwards I expressed my ideas which were different from his [Michael] I was sweating but he listened and changed all the blocking to suit me. This took an hour to re-light, and, believe me, that didn't happen often.
6. Victor French, other cast members have told me he was a lovable guy and just another kid on the set. What was he like to you?
Victor French was very playful, as well as being somewhat remote. I really loved him and enjoyed working with him.
7. Do you have a favorite episode?
I so enjoyed getting married on the show and all of the show's where I had a big part were my favorites.
8. What, if any, affect did your role as Grace Edward's have on your career over the years? Are you still associated with or recognized from being on the show?
If you put me in a long dress and put my hair up I am a happy camper. So, having done a lot of country parts already this made me noticed in Los Angeles. I once had a woman in Paris tell me she had gone through two pregnancies watching me on "Love of Life" a soap opera. I get that kind of response from people still. One person will remember Little House another St. Elsewhere and so on.
9. If there was a Little House TV Reunion, what do you think Grace would be up to?
In reality, Grace Edwards would probably be dead if there were to be a TV reunion. If not, she'd still be postmistress.
10. Finally, How are things going for you these days? Any projects in the works?
I still work 3 or 4 times a year. The last two projects were a movie called "Surviving Love" with Ted Danson, and an episode NCSI with Mark Harmon. One never knows what will be next, but I'm healthy and ready.
Thanks for taking the time to be interviewed for prairiefans.com!
Webmasters Note: Interview was done on April 29, 2004.