Richard Bull, ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star, Dies at 89

Richard Bull

The character actor played Nels Oleson on the long-running TV show

Character actor Richard Bull, who was best known for his role as Nels Oleson on “Little House on the Prairie,” died Monday in Calabasas, Calif. He was 89.

Aside from starring in “Little House” during its nine-season run from 1974-1983, Bull also had a recurring role as Doc in the 1960s adventure show “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.” His other TV stints included “Streets of San Francisco,” “Barnaby Jones,” “Gomer Pyle” and “Hill Street Blues.” He also appeared in the films “The Andromeda Strain” and “High Plains Drifter.”

Born in Zion, Ill. in 1924, Bull began his career as a stage actor at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.

Actress Alison Arngrim, who played Bull’s daughter Nellie Olseon on “Little House,” said Bull shared characteristics with his onscreen counterpart.

“Today we lost my TV ‘Pa,’ the wonderful Richard Bull,” Arngrim said in a statement. “In real life, he was just as kind, intelligent, thoughtful and reasonable as you’d expect Nels Oleson to be. I am so grateful that I was able to spend time with him and his wife Bobbie (actress Barbara Collentine) over the last year. I am truly very touched by the overwhelming — and world wide — outpouring of love for Richard Bull.”

Bull is survived by Collentine, his wife of 65 years.

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  1. Gloria says:

    RIP Mr. Oleson… were the best!

  2. Mario says:

    Since I was a teenage back in the seventies I watched Mr. Bull in the TV Series “Little House on the Prairie”. I always considered his interpretation of Nels Oleson one of the best characters in the show, and he was from the beginning right to the last show in 1984. I enjoyed him very much. May him rest in peace and his soul be in the grace of the Lord.

  3. I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie. His role as Nels Oleson was wonderful. He was a wonderful person and actor. Rest in peace and may God Bless your family. Robin Augustin

  4. Loved Dick – we were in Sherman Marks acting class in the early 60’s together an remained friends – a wonderful actor and a superior person – R .I . P Dick

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