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

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

Richard Bull

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.