Hersha Parady, ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Actress, Dies at 78



The Ohio native played schoolteacher Alice Garvey, who meets a tragic end on the NBC series.


Hersha Parady, whose three-season run as Walnut Grove schoolteacher Alice Garvey on Little House on the Prairie came to an unforgettable, dark end for fans of the beloved NBC drama, has died. She was 78.


Parady died Wednesday in the Norfolk, Virginia, home of her son, Jonathan Peverall, he told The Hollywood Reporter. She had been dealing with a brain tumor, and he had set up a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.


Parady and former NFL star Merlin Olsen were introduced as wife and husband Alice and Jonathan Garvey on the Michael Landon-created Little House on the Prairie during the season-four opening episode, “Castoffs,” in September 1977.


On the sixth-season installment “May We Make Them Proud,” which aired as a two-hour episode during a sweeps ratings period in February 1980, Alice races into the School for the Blind, which has caught fire, to save some children inside, including Mary and Adam’s (Melissa Sue Anderson, Linwood Boomer) infant son.

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Alice finds the baby and tries to break through an upstairs bedroom window to escape, but both wind up perishing in the blaze.


Some viewers thought Parady had used the doll that stood in for the infant as a “battering ram.”


“They did not rig the windows to break easily and I’m not, as Michael Landon pointed out a lot, a meek, delicate woman, so when I try to bust something, I usually succeed,” Parady once said in an interview for the Little House on the Prairie Memories tribute site.


“It was Michael himself who first mentioned that it looked like I was trying to use Mary’s baby as a battering ram to bust the window! So because they’d forgotten to ‘break away’ the windows, I was determined to get out whatever the cost! In spite of the impending doom it would bring, at least I went out with a roar and not a whimper!

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“Working with the special effects guys and the L.A. fire department was a first for me, and to be surrounded by ‘controlled’ fire and readied fire extinguishers, I was ready to act up a storm. I loved every minute of it.”


Parady was born Betty Sandhoff on May 25, 1945, in Berea, Ohio. In a 1975 interview with the Cleveland Pl

ain Dealer, she said she was destined to become an actress. “I was always a child living in the world of pretend,” she said. “Even when I was very little, I much preferred to make believe rather than play with dolls.”


She graduated from Berea High School in 1963, acted at the Cleveland Play House and in regional theater, then came to Los Angeles, where she landed the role of Stella opposite Jon Voight in a road production of A Streetcar Named Desire.


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Parady made her onscreen debut on an episode of Bearcats! and then appeared on MannixThe Waltons and in a pilot for a Gunsmoke spinoff that was not picked up to series.


She was up for the part of Caroline Ingalls on Little House before Karen Grassle was hired but made her first appearance on the show during the third season in 1976 as Eliza Ingalls, the sister-in-law of Landon’s Charles Ingalls. She wound up playing Alice on 35 episodes.

After Little House, Parady appeared in the films Raw Courage (1984) and The Break (1995) and on series including Unsolved MysteriesSecond Noah and Kenan & Kel, where she played Principal Dimly.


Parady was married to producer John Peverall, who shared the best picture Oscar in 1979 for his work on The Deer Hunter. In addition to her son, survivors include her siblings, Patty, Kenny and Bobby.

By Jhone Marky

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