'Little House on the Prairie' Star Katherine MacGregor Dies

Actress Katherine "Scottie" MacGregor, who is best known for playing Harriet Oleson on Little House on the Prairie, died Tuesday at her home in Woodland Hills, California, her representative said. She was 93.

Her villainous role of Harriet Oleson is well-remembered by Little House on the Prairie fans for her wealthy, haughty and mean-spirited attitude.

Upon landing the role in 1974, she tried to inject humor into it, rather than making Mrs. Oleson "black-and-white mean."

(Photo: NBC)

“Anyone that mean has to be a fool,” she once told NBC. “So I began mixing farce into it.”

Her performance was so well-received that what started as a guest role evolved into a series regular, and she appeared in total of 153 of the show's 205 episodes.

Born Dorlee Deane MacGregor in 1925 in Glendale, California, MacGregor grew up in Colorado. She majored in drama at Northwestern University, later moving to New York in 1949 to start her career in theater, which is when she changed her name to Scottie. She later moved to California, where she appeared as guest roles in shows in the 1960s and '70s like Ironside and All in the Family.

"It was a rude awakening coming to Hollywood," she told the Santa Cruz Sentinel in 1981, according to the Little House on the Prairie official website. "I was used to doing juicy parts on the stage ... They didn’t know what to do with me."

MacGregor's TV daughter, Alison Arngrim, mourned her death on Twitter Wednesday morning, wordlessly sharing a photo of the two of them. Later, Arngrim said, "She had an EXTREMELY long, full life and is at peace. Bus yes, we will miss her."

Melissa Gilbert, who starred as Laura Ingalls on the show, also paid tribute on social media.

"This woman taught me so much... about acting... vintage jewelry...
life," Gilbert captioned a photo of the two of them. "She was outspoken and hilariously funny. A truly gifted actress as she was able to play a despicable character but with so much heart. Her Harriet Oleson was the woman our fans loved to hate. A perfect antagonist."


Gilbert continued, "The thing people outside of our prairie family didn’t know, was how loving and nurturing she was with the younger cast. I really loved her and I find great comfort knowing that she is at peace and, per her beliefs, her soul has moved on to its next incarnation."

"Farewell Scottie," she concluded her lengthy post. "I hope with all my heart we meet again next time."