Katherine MacGregor, one of the greatest TV troublemakers of the 1970s, has died. The retired actress, who played meddlesome Harriet Oleson on the long-running NBC drama series Little House on the Prairie, passed away at age 93
MacGregor, whose nickname was “Scottie,” died at the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s retirement home in Los Angeles, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The actress, who started her career in theater and in bit TV guest roles before landing her career-changing role as Walnut Grove’s mean and gossipy social climber, appeared in all nine seasons of Little House from 1974 to 1983—a whopping 153 episodes in all— but skipped what turned out to be the series finale. MacGregor did not appear in the 1984 TV movie The Last Farewell because she was on pilgrimage in India at the time as she focused on her Hindu faith.
As Katherine MacGregor’s death was announced, several of her former Little House on the Prairie co-stars paid tribute to her on social media. Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls on the long-running family drama, posted a throwback photo of her and MacGregor dressed in their 1870s best. In a caption for the Instagram post, Gilbert recalled MacGregor as being “outspoken and hilariously funny” as she taught her “so much about acting” and more.
“The thing people outside of our Prairie family didn’t know, was how loving and nurturing she was with the younger cast,” Gilbert added.
“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… 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.”
— Yahoo Entertainment (@YahooEnt) November 14, 2018
Alison Arngrim, who played MacGregor’s TV daughter, mean girl Nellie Oleson, posted a glam shot of her late co-star to Instagram, writing, “Long live our beautiful Harriet. Long live the immortal Katherine MacGregor!”
Arngrim also took to Twitter to detail her “second mom’s” unfinished journey.
“My second mother has now gone to her rest. But…our Katherine was a follower of Vedanta, a student of the teachings of Swami Chetananda and Swami Vivekananda…. She is not gone. She has simply finished this particular play. And with the love of all her friends and fans, she will live forever.”
Katherine Macgregor’s passing at the Motion Picture Fund Long-Term Nursing Care facility in Woodland Hills comes four years after the death of her TV husband Richard Bill, who played mild-mannered Walnut Grove mercantile owner Nels Oleson. Like MacGregor, Bill had also been a resident at the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s nursing care facility, Today reports. Katherine MacGregor even bonded with his Bill’s widow, Barbara Collentime, after his 2014 death, telling her “they both had lost a wonderful husband.”