Entertainment & Arts

Little House on the Prairie actor Richard Bull dies at 89

Richard Bull with Alison Arngrim Image copyright AP
Image caption Richard Bull pictured in 2011 with his on-screen daughter Alison Arngrim

Actor Richard Bull, who played shopkeeper Nels Oleson in long-running US TV series Little House on the Prairie, has died at the age of 89.

The performer, who was a resident of a Los Angeles home for retired actors, died of pneumonia in hospital.

His quiet, long-suffering character was saddled with an overbearing wife and spoilt daughter Nellie.

Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie, paid tribute to Bull as a "calm, sensible and rational" man.

"Everyone loved him so much," said the actress, who remained a close friend of her on-screen father.

"People are posting [condolences] in six different languages on my Facebook page."

Melissa Gilbert, who had a lead role in the series, said Bull would be "missed". "Goodbye Richard," she wrote on Twitter. "Working with you was such a joy but [not] nearly as joyful as being your friend.''

Dean Butler, who appeared in the programme as Almanzo Wilder, said Bull was "a very generous, soft-spoken actor with a wonderful appetite for work". "He always made it look so easy," he added.

Little House on the Prairie was based on the novels of Laura Ingalls Wilder about her family's life in the American West during the 19th Century.

The show ran on the NBC network from 1974 to 1983 and picked up three Golden Globe nominations. A TV movie based on the series was made in 1984.

Their nearest small town was Walnut Grove, where the Olesons ran the local store.

Bull's lengthy screen career stretched back to the 1950s and included roles in the 1968 version of The Thomas Crown Affair and multiple parts in Mission: Impossible and The Streets of San Francisco.

His last credited screen appearance, as an "elderly farmer" in TV series Boss, came in 2011.

Bull lived in the Motion Picture and Television Fund's hospital with his wife, actress Barbara Collentine.

Katherine "Scottie" MacGregor, who played his on-screen wife Harriet in Little House on the Prairie, also lives in the residential facility.

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