November 15, 12pm
So uplifting! So full of hope! The perfect read on life’s reflections.” —Kristin Chenoweth, Tony and Emmy Award–winning actress
Karen Grassle, known around the world for her iconic role as “Ma” on Little House on the Prairie, grew up in Ventura, California. Raised by hardworking people undercut by the alcoholism of her father, Karen graduated from UC Berkeley and attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art on a Fulbright Grant. She went on to a theatre career in New York and in cities across the US.
She co-wrote and starred in the TV film, Battered, and is known for her advocacy on behalf of equality for women. In the last 15 years, Karen Grassle has appeared in plays locally and out of state, as well as in three indie films.
She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and takes pleasure in her relationship with her son, Zach Radford, and in gardening. BRIGHT LIGHTS, PRAIRIE DUST is her first book.
ABOUT THE BOOK: Growing up in a loving but alcoholic home by the Pacific, Karen Grassle—the curious and optimistic little girl who would grow up to become the beloved actress from Little House on the Prairie--seeks comfort at her local Baptist church, in dance, and in friendship. Finding herself wholly at home on the stage, she pursues acting with all her heart. As a young woman, leaving lovers behind, she wins a Fulbright to study in London. There, she revels in the excellence of the theatre and the stimulating travel; only occasionally, she is baffled when brought low by a night of drinking.
After coming back to the US and making her home in New York, a sweet marriage goes off the rails, work is sporadic, and poverty looms. Nightmares drive Karen to deal with her demons, and she gets hope. She lands exciting roles and a new love.
Cast as "Ma," it seems she will have it all: love and acting in a big, new life. But her moods fluctuate wildly as the pressures of success increase along with her drinking. She is advocating for women when it all comes apart. In this raw, emotional memoir, Karen recounts with surprising candor and humor how she ultimately faced her own alcoholism and found her way home.