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'Little House on the Prairie' shopkeeper Richard Bull dies at 89

Feb. 4, 2014 at 2:24 PM ET

Richard Bull, the actor best known for playing Nellie Oleson's father Nels on the iconic television show "Little House on the Prairie," died Monday at age 89, People magazine reports.

Bull was warmly remembered by Melissa Gilbert, who starred as Laura Ingalls Wilder on the show, and Alison Arngrim, who played Laura's nemesis, Nellie. He starred on the show for its entire run, from 1974-1983.

Bull's character ran Oleson's Mercantile, the "Little House" general store, and was portrayed as a patient and kind man, an extreme contrast to sharp-tongued wife Harriet and spoiled children Nellie and Willie. The Olesons adopted a daughter, Nancy, in the show's final years.

Bull also had a regular role as Doc in the 1960s television series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea." His other television appearances included "Streets of San Francisco," "Barnaby Jones," "Gomer Pyle" and "Hill Street Blues," and his film credentials included "The Andromeda Strain" and "High Plains Drifter." Bull also made two appearances on "Highway to Heaven," the 1980s drama starring his "Little House" co-stars Michael Landon and Victor French.

While Bull's "Little House" character was portrayed as a long-suffering and tolerant husband to crabby Harriet (played by Katherine MacGregor), Bull had a much happier marriage in real life. He wed actress Barbara Collentine in 1948, after they met as drama students in Chicago. She survives him.

Angrim and others shared on Twitter a 1979 newspaper article about the couple.

"I sometimes feel sorry for Nels Oleson," Bull said in the interview. "I couldn't take some of the things he does. Barbara and I share everything and try not to be a burden to each other."

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