Remember Nellie Oleson's dad in the '70s TV show, Little House on the Pairie, the series based on Laura Ingalls Wilder's books about life in the 19th century American Western frontier? Anyone? Man, I am dating myself here, but I do. Well, the actor who played long-suffering, kindly shopkeeper Nels, Richard Bull, just died at the age of 89. We're sad to see him go, but that's a good, long life! He died of natural causes at the Motion Picture & Television Fund's hospital after being admitted for pneumonia. Apparently he was just as loveable in real life as his TV character was, and actors are sending heart-felt condolences.
The actress who played the insufferable Nellie, Alison Arngrim, was a lifelong friend of Bull. "Everyone loved him so much," she says. "Today we lost my TV 'Pa', the wonderful Richard Bull. He was as Nels Oleson as you'd possibly want someone to be. He was calm, rational, sensible." I hear Alison was as un-Nellie as possible. I love that they remained friends after the show.
Here's what Melissa Gilbert, AKA Laura Ingalls, tweeted:
This man will be missed. Goodbye Richard working with you was such a joy but nearly as joyful as being your friend. pic.twitter.com/Oc4sBMrfbn— Melissa Gilbert (@MelissaEGilbert) February 4, 2014
The woman who played Nels Oleson's wife Harriet, Scottie MacGregor, lived in the Motion Picture & Television Fund home as well. She had dinner with Bull's real-life wife, actress Barbara Collentine. Dean Butler, who played Laura's husband Almanzo James Wilder, says both "agreed they had both lost a wonderful husband."
"Richard was a very generous, soft-spoken actor with a wonderful appetite for work. He always made it (acting) look so easy," Butler said. Bull played Nels Oleson from 1974 to 1983, and appeared in numerous other television shows, including Boss in 2011.
I love this simple tweet from Arngrim.
Goodnight Pa. pic.twitter.com/5M47tbi9y6— Arngrim (@Arngrim) February 4, 2014
Did you watch Little House on the Prairie?
Image via Allison Arngrim/Twitter