Fans of Little House on the Prairie typically remember the show as fun and at times whimsical, but also will recall being moved to tears on many occasions. In fact at times the trials that the Ingalls family and their friends could be downright horrific. Perhaps there was no other storyline that even approached the anguish as the Season 6 episode when Albert inadvertently started a fire in the school for the blind. Jonathan Garvey’s wife Alice went up in flames as we watched her desperately try to beat her way out of the window holding Mary Ingalls’ baby, who also perished.
Um, yeah, that’s dark. The actress who played Alice was Hersha Parady and she will tell you that despite the way it looked, she wasn’t actually using the baby to beat on the window. Of course that got a laugh because we know that this never really happened. But at the time, fans might not have been too sure since Hersha Parady didn’t very little film work after she left – or died – in Little House.
Parady got her start not long before being cast in Little House, appearing in episodes of The Waltons and Mannix, before getting a guest shot in a 1975 episode of Little House in which she played a completely different character, that of Eliza Ingalls, Charles’ sister-in-law. Eventually she was cast as Alice and went on to star in 33 more episodes… before the fire.
Personal appearances of Hersha Parady appear to be about as rare as film appearances after Little House. On TV, one might spot her in a pair of appearances in Kenan & Kel in the late 1990’s. In real life, the only appearance I’ve been aware of was her appearance at the Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove, Minnesota.
After seeing her during the Question & Answer session prior to the Wilder Pageant play, during which she sat right behind us, we were able to meet her face-to-face the next day on Saturday, July 26, 2014. She was a very friendly and jovial woman, the kind you might expect would be a teacher or a church lady. There was no pretentiousness about her and she signed two photos for me, and posed for photos with both Carolyn and me.
Hersha Parady was definitely a highlight of the Walnut Grove experience.
Celebrities of the 2014 Wilder Pageant will continue…