‘Little House On The Prairie’ Author Laura Ingalls Wilder Life Revealed on PBS ‘American Masters’

News, Reality TV

There were few TV shows in the 1970’s that made the impact that Little House On The Prairie did.   Now PBS series American Masters gives us detailed context and background on the author whose own life served as a springboard for her literary works that inspired and informed, and ultimately canne to the smallscreen.

Author Laura Ingalls Wilder is featured in this new documentary that comes Christmas week on PBS

This year marks the 85th anniversary of the publication of the book, Little House on the Prairie.

American Masters: Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House On The Prairie

American Masters: Laura Ingalls Wilder is described as an unvarnished look at the unlikely author whose autobiographical fiction helped shape American ideas of the frontier and self-reliance.

Wilder was a Midwestern farm woman who published her first novel at age 65.

She transformed her frontier childhood into the best-selling “Little House” series. The documentary goes further into her background, this iconic pioneer as well as the way she transformed her early life into enduring legend.  The process involved a little-known collaboration with her daughter Rose.

Directed and produced by Emmy Award-winner Mary McDonagh Murphy (Harper Lee: American Masters),  these never-before-published letters, photographs and family artifacts explores the context in which Wilder lived and wrote, as well as the true nature of her personality.

Interviews will include Caroline Fraser, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her Wilder biography; Pamela Smith Hill, author of “Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life”and editor of Wilder’s New York Times bestselling memoir; Wilder historian William Anderson; authors such as Louise Erdrich, Roxane Gay, Lizzie Skurnick and Linda Sue Park; and even the actors from the TV series Little House on the Prairie, including Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls Wilder), Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson) and Dean Butler (Almanzo Wilder). Historians, scholars and fans provide additional perspectives on Wilder’s life and legacy.

Who are the Bonnetheads?

Wilder’s huge fanbase are the self-proclaimed Bonnetheads — and the books and TV program loosely based on them have become cultural treasures. Starting with “Little House in the Big Woods” (1932), the books chronicle the adventures of a family making their way out in the American frontier and have inspired four generations with the courage and determination of their heroine.

PBS says:

Though Wilder’s stories emphasized real life and celebrated stoicism, she omitted the grimmer and contradictory details of her personal history: grinding poverty, government assistance, deprivation and the death of her infant son. In recent years, Wilder’s racist depictions of American Indians and Black people have stirred controversy, and made her less appealing to some readers, teachers and librarians. American Masters: Laura Ingalls Wilder reveals the truth behind the bestsellers, exploring a rags to riches story that has been embraced by millions of people worldwide.

About PBS American Masters

Now into 34 years, American Masters illuminates the stories and journeys of our nation’s most enduring artistic giants.

The people and artists who have made indelible marks on the American cultural landscape.

Setting the standard for documentary films, American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 14 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors.

Creatives behind the documentary

Mary McDonagh Murphy is director and producer. Christopher Czajka is associate producer. Michael Kantor is executive producer of American Masters. Michael Rosenfeld is executive producer for Twin Cities Public Television.

American Masters: Laura Ingalls Wilder is a production of the award-winning National Productions group at Twin Cities Public Television and THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET.

About WNET
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station: parent company of New York’s THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey.

About Twin Cities PBS
Twin Cities PBS (TPT), the PBS affiliate for Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, is a prominent content producer for the national public television system.

Major funding for American Masters: Laura Ingalls Wilder is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Support for American Masters is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, AARP, Rosalind P. Walter, Seton J. Melvin, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family Foundation, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, Ellen and James S. Marcus, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, and public television viewers.

American Masters: Laura Ingalls Wilder premieres nationwide Tuesday, December 29 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/americanmasters and the PBS Video app. This year marks the 85th anniversary of the publication of “Little House on the Prairie” (1935).

April Neale

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