Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My interview with Little House Historian Lennon Parker

Today I have the awesome opportunity of interviewing Little House Historian and Web site Designer, Lennon Parker. Lennon has created a Little House Web site, a Little House fan forum, a blog, and a MySpace to honor the legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I also have the distinct pleasure of calling Lennon—a good friend. Thanks for letting me interview you for my blog. I’m thrilled you’re here!

Thanks Cheryl, it’s my pleasure!

Q: Where did your love of Little House begin?

My love for Little House began while I was in third grade. I remember my teacher would read us chapters out of the books after lunch recess. I grew fond of the books and started to read them more by myself as the years went on. I was addicted to the Michael Landon series after watching it one afternoon after school. I didn’t know it was Little House at the time, but recognized several characters from the books I had read, and the western time period. I remember thinking to myself is this a Little House TV show? I wasn’t sure because Charles had no beard and the story was nothing like I had read. After the episode ended another one came on and I saw the theme song and thought it was really cool that there was a TV show for Little House. I have been a fan of the show since and love it as much as the books.

Q: Why have you dedicated so much of your time to promoting the legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder?

I have always been into history, and one part of history I love is the Wild West. I admire the pioneers of our country and most of all how they lived. After studying Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family, and reading her books, I really find her work amazing. Usually your work is a reflection of you, so I could really just imagine what type of person Laura might have been. But I enjoy promoting her legacy through and other publications I have been involved in to share with fans how much her work has become since writing her books. I also provide on my Web site a separate page about pioneer life. I think it’s important for generations to know about that part of history. I have viewed many K-12 history books and very little is said about pioneer life. My goal is to help fill in those gaps for students like me when I was in third grade so they will have something to learn from.

Q: Have you ever met any of Laura’s relatives?

I have never met any of Laura’s relatives, but have swapped emails and interviewed Beth Ingalls who is one of the finest ladies I have encountered.

Interviewer’s note: Beth Ingalls is the great-granddaughter of Hiram Ingalls.

Q: You give presentations to school-aged children where you dress up in authentic pioneer clothing and read from Laura’s famous books. How would a school get in touch with you to request information on these presentations?

I enjoy doing these presentations because it was something I didn’t get to see as a youngster. All I had was a teacher with big glasses reading Half-pint’s stories to me. So, being a former professional actor and in love with Laura’s work it’s awesome to get to put the love into one and making children happy. I can be contacted at for booking.

Q: You are a former model and actor. Are there any memories you would be willing to share with us from that time in your life? Do your experiences as an actor help you appreciate what it took to make a series such as Little House on the Prairie so successful?

Like I mentioned a second ago, acting is something I loved to do and it was a big part of my life. I was a commercial actor from 1983-1990 and appeared in over 70 commercials around the USA for numerous products. I also did print modeling. I auditioned for several TV roles, but found more work in commercials. A memory I will never forget is my experience with autographs. In Los Angeles I was the cute kid trying to sell cars for this car company, so they would hire me to be cute for their commercials. So, I did and got paid. The small print… I had to do shows! When the car company had a big show, they wanted me to attend for publicity and to sign pictures. I hated the hot sun and hated signing my name over and over again. I always tell people if they have a signed picture from me I would pay them for it! LOL!!!! For many years I hated it because I couldn’t do stuff kids do--for example, playing outside or going to parties or yes, fighting. I couldn’t get dirty or scratched. I remember if I had a big shoot I would have to stand by a fence while my friends played at recess so I wouldn’t get dirty. Usually the bad kids had to stand by the fence. I also would get teased by kids when my teachers would hang my ads up in class or talk about commercials.

I was happy to have had another acting job since leaving the business in 1992, but with a twist. Instead of just me, all that was needed was my voice. I did a voice over job in 2006 for a Laura Ingalls Wilder event in Independence, Kansas. What better way to come back than with something related to Laura! I’m also working on a comedy CD. Release date should be this summer. Hopefully…

As for my experience as an actor, yeah I appreciate what those kids did on the show. It’s hard work, I know! It’s not all play. I think this is why I get along with many of the kids from the show today because I know what it is like. Who knows…

Q: Back to the Future is one of your favorite movies. Did you ever meet Michael J. Fox?

Ha, ha, ha you have done your homework! Yes! I LOVE Back to the Future. It’s a great and exciting story. I never got to meet Mike, but had the opportunity to read with his TV sister Justine Bateman in the mid 80s. Small world… Justine’s brother also appeared as one of the Cooper children on Little House.

Q: What is Prairie Fans? How did the Little House fan forum Prairie Talk come about?

Prairie Fans is a Web site based on the legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder featuring information on her books, TV shows, and movies. I originally started working on the site in 1998 after meeting several of the cast in Sonora that year. I had written a book about Little House, and for personal reasons I have merged parts of it into the site. Prairie Talk came about in early 2005. It was originally a yahoo group where fans could interact about the show and books, but I hated the style and limitations you had with yahoo groups so I had a friend open me up a mini forum on his classic TV site. Again, the old saying is true… you get what you pay for. This was another freebee and was full of banners and stuff. The content of these banners just didn’t sit well with me. So, in early 2005 I had my own forum built and hosted with prairie fans and launched Prairie Talk, which was everything I wanted in a forum and is still growing today. From time to time members of the old and new Little House stop in to interact with fans. Prairie Talk can be accessed on or directly at

Q: If people check out Prairie Fans, they’ll see pictures of your Little House collection. What are some of your most treasured pieces of memorabilia?

My favorite pieces… I would have to say my used Melissa Gilbert scripts. I have her Journey in the Spring script and on the front of it Melissa wrote, “Please save.” I guess she didn't do a good job, if I have it. LOL!

Another would have to be my signed t-shirt from Kyle Chavarria that she autographed for my birthday. That was a big surprise and to have a photo of her holding it up and signing it. What a treat!

For autographs… my cast signed picture of the Ingalls family is nice, but the icing on the cake is my personalized photo from Melissa Sue Anderson. It was a treat to get that from her and at the same time help her obtain something she needed.

Q: You’ve had the opportunity to meet and interview many of the stars and crew of all of the shows adapted from Laura’s books (NBC’s Little House on the Prairie, CBS’s Beyond the Prairie, and the ABC/Disney version of Little House on the Prairie). Do you have any favorite interviews? What are some of your fondest memories?

I met most of the cast, like I mentioned earlier, in Sonora back in 98. It was a great event and I always tell people that I had never been in a room with such nice people before. I remember talking to Robyn aka Sidney Greenbush about 30 minutes or so about her pin she was wearing. It was of the Ingalls home. I loved it. She was really cool. I have several favorite interviews! I enjoyed my talk with Kent McCray about the making of Little House a year or so ago and Kevin Hagen was another one of my favorites. We had a great interview, and just months before he passed away did a tribute to Kevin for his work on Little House and film. Fans from all over wrote in what they love about him and his work. Kevin told me he was touched by it all. A lot of people just see Kevin as Doc Baker, and don’t realize he did more. His career was longer than my arm, and I was happy to have been able to do what I did.

Q: You spent a great deal of time promoting the new Little House on the Prairie mini-series. How did you get involved in this project? Do you think there is any hope this cast will be reunited for another Little House project?

I loved the new ABC show and not only was I happy that Little House was back on TV, but some decent family television would be back on TV. I did everything in my power to help keep the show running, but reality kicked in, and not just politics, but reality! People like reality and that’s what we got. Reality shows—reality shows and shows full of vulgarity and insults. People like that stuff now it seems, and it sells, and well the big guy in the suit is happy. I wish we had more family shows, but not in this life. Do I think the cast will be reunited? I seriously doubt it, but you never know. All I recommend is fans write in, and not typed letters but hand written letters. It might not change anything, but it lets networks know you want more than Victoria’s secret.

Q: Let’s talk about Lennon Parker Productions. How long have you been designing Web sites?

Lennon Parker Productions is my Web design company where I create Web sites for clients. My cliental is mostly people in the entertainment industry. However, I have done a few non-entertainment sites.

I have been designing Web sites since 1996. What I did then is totally different from what I am doing now. I always tell people Web sites are like fashion. People don’t dress like they did in the 50s anymore and Web sites don’t look like they did in 1996. It’s hard keeping up with the times because it’s more Web languages you have to learn.

Q: You’ve created Web sites for several well-known actors: Maureen McCormick (Marcia Brady, The Brady Bunch), Brian Part (Carl Sanderson Edwards, NBC’s Little House on the Prairie), Kyle Chavarria (Laura Ingalls, ABC/Disney’s Little House on the Prairie mini-series), and Karen Lynn Gorney (Stephanie Mangano, Saturday Night Fever) to name a few. What do you enjoy most about this business? Where can people contact you about designing a Web site for their individual needs?

Gosh, just reading all those names and like you said just a few makes me want to go, good grief! I enjoy designing Web sites as the skinny guy likes to play golf. I now work at a college doing Web services, so it’s nice to say I can go to work doing what started out as a hobby. If people want a Web site they can go to

Q: What are some of your other interests and hobbies outside of Little House?

Gosh we would be here all day… I love working out, reading, hanging out with friends and doing something new! You only live once! Life is too short to be pee-oed I say. Live it, Learn It, Do it!

Q: Is there anything you would like to add? Are there upcoming projects we should know about?

Thanks for asking me to do this interview. What could I add? I would like to thank everyone who reads this interview! Gosh! If you made it this far down I should reward you with a check!

As for any upcoming projects… like I mentioned earlier I am working on a comedy CD. I’m also taking on small acting/voice over jobs as they come in, nothing too big just something small here and there.

But for those who know me… things are always changing and I keep my eyes out for the next project.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. I wish you much success and happiness!

Thanks! You too!!!!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheryl and Lennon,

I really enjoyed reading your interview. I, like the both of you love Little House and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I always enjoy reading about how others got started reading the Little House books.

Lennon you are one classy guy and I always like reading more about you and your endevors. Cheryl you are doing an awesome job on your interviewing. I am hoping someday to read an interview about you regarding all your successes.

Nice job...

11:48 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Thanks for stopping by Lorrie. I'm glad you enjoyed it. As for the interviewing, I really love it. It helps that I have such interesting people to chat with.


8:58 AM  

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