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

Hersha Parady as Alice Garvey in Little House on the Prairie
Ted Shepherd/NBCU Photo Bank

Hersha Parady, known for her role as Alice Garvey on NBC‘s Little House on the Prairie, has died at the age of 78.

She passed away on August 23 in her son Jonathan Peverall’s home in Norfolk, Virginia, according to Peverall. The actress suffered from a brain tumor, and her son set up a GoFundMe account in order to help pay the expenses.

Parady and former NFL star Merlin Olsen were introduced in Season 4 of the series as husband and wife Alice and Jonathan Garvey in September 1977. She took on the role for 35 episodes.

Her Walnut Grove schoolteacher character was tragically killed during a Season 6 episode, “May We Make Them Proud,” a two-hour episode, which saw Alice race to save some children inside a burning school for the blind, including Mary and Adam’s (Melissa Sue Anderson & Linwood Boomer) infant son. Alice finds the baby and tries to escape through an upstairs bedroom window, only to end up dying in the blaze alongside the child.

Born Betty Sandhoff, she grew up in Berea, Ohio. After graduating from Berea High School in 1963, she performed on stage at the Cleveland Play House and in various regional theaters before making her way to Los Angeles. There, she secured the role of Stella, starring alongside Jon Voight in a touring production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

She then made her onscreen debut on Bearcats! and then made an appearance on Mannix, The Waltons, as well as a pilot for a Gunsmoke spinoff that never came to fruition. Although she was up for the role as Caroline Ingalls on Little House before Karen Grassle was hired, she ended up making her first appearance during the third season as Eliza Ingalls, the sister-in-law of Landon’s Charles Ingalls.

After her stint on the show, Parady’s credits included films Raw Courage (1984) and The Break (1995)  and series such as Unsolved Mysteries, Second Noah, and Kenan & Kel as Principal Dimly.

Parady married producer John Peverall, who shared the Best Picture Oscar in 1979 for his work on The Deer Hunter. Alongside her son, Parady is survived by her siblings, Patty, Kenny, and Bobby.