Most well-known for her role of “Ma” in the long-running NBC series Little House on the Prairie, Ms. Grassle appeared last year at the S.F. Playhouse in The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, at the Manitoba Theatre Centre in Driving Miss Daisy, and at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura in Open Secrets. Ms. Grassle began her theatre career at the Actor’s Workshop of San Francisco as an apprentice in the 1960’s. She graduated with a degree in English Literature and Dramatic Art with a specialization in Shakespeare from UC at Berkeley. IN the summers, she won scholarships to the Stanford Contemporary Workshop and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. She continued her studies as a Fulbright Fellow to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Upon her return, she became the ingénue for the Front Street Theatre in Memphis, TN. She then moved to New York City to pursue her career and worked in stock and rep companies all around the Eastern Seaboard and the Midwest in such plays as Hamlet, Muzeeka, The Miser, A Streetcar Named Desire, You Never Can Tell, and Room Service.
She made her Broadway debut in The Gingham Dog and appeared as Imogen in Cymbeline for Shakespeare in the Park with Sam Waterston and Bill Devane. Other Broadway roles include Butterflies are Free and Sweet Sue.
While working in Hollywood, she co-wrote and starred in the M.O.W. Battered and co-starred in the movies for televisions such as Cocaine, One Man’s Seduction, The President’s Mistress, and Crisis in Mid-air. She also had roles in Wyatt Earp and Harry’s War.
She studied in Hollywood with Roy London, in New York with Kristin Linklater, in Stratford-upon-Avon with directors and staff of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and with teachers from Shakespeare and Co. in Massachusetts. She has taught at the College of Santa Fe, LAMDA, and at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville. This spring, Karen returned to her alma mater in Berkeley to give a class in Acting with the Camera.