Beloved ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Actress Hersha Parady Passes Away at 78
Hersha Parady, a native of Ohio, will always be remembered for her portrayal of Alice Garvey, the devoted wife of former NFL star Merlin Olsen’s character, Jonathan Garvey, in the beloved show Little House on the Prairie.
She made her debut on the show in September 1977, during the season-four opening episode titled “Castoffs.”
However, it was in the heartbreaking two-hour episode “May We Make Them Proud,” which aired in February 1980 during a sweeps ratings period, that her character, Alice, met a tragic and unforgettable end.
Alice heroically rushed into a burning School for the Blind to save children inside, including Melissa Sue Anderson and Linwood Boomer’s infant son. Despite her valiant efforts to save the child and herself by breaking through an upstairs bedroom window, both tragically perished in the fire.
In a candid interview for the Little House on the Prairie Memories tribute site, Parady humorously recalled the memorable scene, stating,
They did not rig the windows to break easily, And since I’m not a meek, sensitive woman—as Michael Landon frequently noted—I usually succeed when I try to bust something. Despite the impending disaster, she continued, “At least I went out with a roar and not a whimper!
Hersha Parady, born Betty Sandhoff on May 25, 1945, in Berea, Ohio, always knew she was destined to be an actress.
Her childhood was filled with imagination and make-believe, preferring to play pretend over dolls even from a young age.
After graduating from Berea High School in 1963, she pursued her passion for acting, performing at the Cleveland Play House and in regional theater.
Her journey eventually led her to Los Angeles, where she landed a role opposite Jon Voight in a road production of A Streetcar Named Desire, marking her onscreen debut. She appeared in various TV shows like Bearcats!, Mannix, The Waltons, and even a pilot for a Gunsmoke spinoff that unfortunately never made it to series.
Although she auditioned for the role of Caroline Ingalls on Little House, the part went to Karen Grassle. Parady still made her debut on the show during its third season in 1976 as Eliza Ingalls, Charles Ingalls’ sister-in-law, before ultimately taking on the beloved role of Alice Garvey for 35 episodes.
Following her time on Little House, Parady’s career continued to flourish. She appeared in films such as Raw Courage (1984) and The Break (1995), and graced the small screen with roles in Unsolved Mysteries, Second Noah, and Kenan & Kel, where she portrayed Principal Dimly.
In her personal life, Hersha Parady was married to producer John Peverall, who won the Best Picture Oscar in 1979 for his work on The Deer Hunter. Survivors include her son, Jonathan Peverall, as well as her siblings, Patty, Kenny, and Bobby.
Hersha Parady’s talent and unforgettable contribution to the world of entertainment will forever be cherished by her fans and colleagues. She leaves behind a legacy of remarkable performances that have left an indelible mark on television history…
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