What is “Little People, Big World”?
“Little People, Big World” is a TLC reality series that premiered in March 2006, and turned the previously anonymous Roloff family into national superstars. These days, the show mainly focuses on the patriarchs, Matt and Amy, and their son Zach, their only child to have inherited dwarfism. The family spent years living on a gorgeous farm in Oregon, where most episodes are filmed.
Viewers were left heartbroken by TLC when the network claimed in August 2010 that the show would be coming to an end after season six; thankfully, the executives changed their mind, and as of late 2022, “Little People, Big World” has aired 20 seasons and is nearing its 400th episode.
“Welcome to the Jungle”, “Conquering Mount St. Helens”, and “Breaking Down the Walls” are three specials of the franchise; a spin-off series named “Little People, Big World: Wedding Farm” also premiered in November 2012, ran for six episodes, and focused on Matt and Amy’s short-lived wedding business.
The network got in touch with the Roloff patriarchs in the 2000s, and asked them if they’d be interested in starring in their own show. The couple were excited by the idea and instantly said yes; at the time, they had four children named Zach, Jeremy, Molly and Jacob. As mentioned, Zach is the only Roloff sibling to have inherited dwarfism, and is 4ft 4 inches (132cm) tall, whereas his fraternal twin Jeremy is of average height.
For decades, the Roloff clan lived on the stunning 36-acre Roloff Farm, which doubled up as a revenue stream during the pumpkin harvest season. As Matt and Amy’s children grew up, most of them moved away, and these days Zach is the only one still living at home. Roloff Farm has undergone many renovations thanks to Matt’s hard work; as he spent his childhood being operated on in different hospitals, he wanted to give his children the refreshing environment he himself didn’t get to enjoy.
As Matt and Amy are just 4ft 1in tall, everyday activities such as going grocery shopping, doing sports, or taking care of things around the house can be quite the challenge. Viewers of “Little People, Big World” have been rooting for the family since day one, as they are the perfect example of perseverance and self-improvement.
Matt and Amy Roloff
A California native born in October 1961, Matt Roloff is an author, motivational speaker, farmer, and TV personality. During his childhood, he underwent 15 grueling operations to remedy diastrophic dysplasia, the degenerative dwarfism condition he was born with, but the harrowing experience only made him stronger.
Although Matt’s parents Ron and Peggy, and older sister Ruth are all of average height, his younger brother Sam was also born with diastrophic dysplasia and can only walk with crutches. The middle Roloff sibling, Joshua, died in 1999 aged 34, having been born with many severe heart malformations. Ron, Peggy, and Ruth have all appeared in the show at least once, and are supportive of Matt’s every endeavor.
Matt’s life would change forever when he met Amy at a Little People of America convention held in 1987. After dating for mere months, they were married and would soon form a family of their own. However, in March 2014, they shocked fans around the world by announcing their separation; the divorce proceedings began in June 2015 and were finalized around a year later. The reasons for their separation remain unclear, but Matt and Amy are believed to remain on good terms.
In 1990, the couple purchased their beloved farmhouse, and turned it into the famous Roloff Farm, complete with a regulation soccer field, a pirate ship on a lake, and a full-size medieval castle. Matt dedicated years of his time to turning his home into a place for all the family to enjoy, especially his children and grandchildren. Tens of thousands of people visit the farm every year, most of them arriving during pumpkin season. Two decades later, Matt and Amy expanded their property portfolio by buying an 80-acre property next to their farm.
Before becoming a household name, Matt already had a foot in the entertainment industry, and was good friends with Martin Klebba, an actor with dwarfism who has sporadic roles in various “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. It’s possible that Martin helped Matt land minor roles in “Under the Rainbow” and “Ewoks: The Battle for Endor”.
Prior to fame, Matt worked for Altos Computer Systems and other Silicon Valley companies as a computer programmer. A friend advised him to move away from the stressful work environment of Silicon Valley, and Matt took his counsel, relocating to Oregon and landing a job at Sequent Computer Systems, while Amy was pregnant with Zach and Jeremy. These days, he’s the owner of Direct Access Solutions, a company that sells the hospitality sector accessibility products for people with dwarfism.
Born in September 1962, Amy Jo Roloff is a Detroit, Michigan native. The bubbly and outspoken public figure is an author, baker, TV star and motivational speaker. Her mother, Patricia, was a housewife, whereas her father held a job at the Ford Motor Company. Amy was raised in a two-parent home, and has two sisters named Katherine and Cyndi as well as a brother named Roger. Amy is the only sibling to have been born with achondroplasia, which affected her growth.
After matriculating from Franklin High School, Amy graduated with a business degree from Central Michigan University. She was a newcomer to the TV industry when “Little People, Big World” first aired, but has since spread her wings, appearing in popular shows such as “Good Morning America” and “Oprah”, to discuss her experiences and the Roloff brand.
In 2012, Amy stepped out of her comfort zone by publishing her first cookbook, “Short and Simple Family Recipes”, which contained 75 exclusive family recipes passed down through the generations. Her other books are entitled “A Little Me” and “Little People, Big Values”. In 2016, Amy opened an online bakery named Little Kitchen, which has enjoyed booming sales and excellent customer reviews.
Before dabbling in the world of books and baking, the reality heavyweight founded the Amy Roloff Charity Foundation, but which closed in 2021 after operating for over a decade, and focused on helping disabled individuals and at-risk youth.
If that wasn’t enough, Amy has also been a motivational speaker for over a decade, giving her first keynote speech at a Lakes Health Conference in 2010. She has also been a keynote speaker at a Dr. James Borland Convocational Series for Adrian College and an Empowering Women in Business Conference, and is a participant of Get Motivated, a business seminar for all demographics which helps people become entrepreneurs.
Prior to their divorce, Matt and Amy overcame many obstacles together: in 2009, a disgruntled visitor to Roloff Farm sued the famous couple for neglecting safety procedures. The case was finally settled out of court in 2013, with no further details being shared. When Matt and Amy announced that they had separated, people wondered if they would be selling Roloff Farm, which is an integral part of their brand; however, Matt purchased Amy’s part, and Amy moved to a new house. They are still believed to be running Roloff Farms Salsa, which supplies pumpkin salsas to many big supermarket chains.
Although Matt hasn’t shown any signs of wanting to find love again, Amy married her boyfriend of several years, Chris Marek, in 2021. Surprisingly, the ceremony was celebrated on Roloff Farm, although it’s not clear if Matt was in attendance or not.
In December 2020, Jacob took to Instagram to share his heartbreaking story of sexual abuse. At the time, Jacob was 23 years old; his appearances on “Little People, Big World” had come to an end the year prior.
“It is often much easier to think about things than it is to talk about them,” Jacob wrote, continuing: “As a child, after what I realize now was a long grooming process, I was molested by an executive field producer for ‘Little People Big World’, Chris Cardamone.” Although Jacob shared that he had no intentions of giving a tell-all interview at that time, he added that he hoped Chris was “never allowed around children again”.
Chris Cardamone worked on the show from 2007 to 2010, when Jacob would have been between 10 and 13 years old, and didn’t immediately respond to PEOPLE magazine’s request for comment. The former TV star added that Chris texted him in November 2015, years after the alleged abuse took place, but didn’t elaborate.
In February 2021, the Sun exclusively revealed that Chris was arrested for child sex crimes in Santa Clara, California, in October 2008. In the words of a Public Information Officer working for the Santa Clara Sherriff’s Office, “the suspect, Christopher Cardamone, was ultimately arrested and booked into the Main Jail in San Jose for felony lewd and lascivious acts with a minor.”
The story just gets worse, as according to court papers, Chris was charged with one count of cruelty toa child with possible injury or death, two counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 with force, and two counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14. It remains unclear if the victim was Jacob, but Chris served just 73 days in jail and was placed on supervised probation for four years after accepting a plea deal in December 2010. The producer had to complete substance abuse counseling, submit to a property/person search, and to chemical testing.
Shortly after Jacob’s statement, the rest of the Roloff clan rallied around him with words of support. Some viewers and netizens were left with a bad taste in their mouths, and wondered why the family hadn’t spoken up before, and lobbied for Chris to receive a harsher sentence; ultimately, we will never know the whole truth of the matter.
The other Roloff Siblings
Born in May 1990, Zach Roloff is possibly the world’s most recognizable celebrity with dwarfism, having starred in “Little People, Big World” since his teenage years, still lives on the family farm, and makes regular appearances in the show.
In summer 2015, Zach married his long-time girlfriend, Tori, thus beginning a new chapter in his life. They have two children named Jackson and Lilah, who were born in May 2017 and November 2019 respectively, both with dwarfism. Tori worked as a kindergarten teacher, but now focuses on raising her children, although she dabbles in photography from time to time. Zach still works on the family’s pumpkin farm, and also earns between four and five figures per episode of the show.
We celebrated Jacob and Izzy yesterday! What a great engagement party it was, really excited for you guys! And okay…
As for Zach’s twin brother, Jeremy, he studied at Portland Community College but switched to the Brooks Institute of Photography after a year. At the age of 22, the former TV star began working as a camera operator for Human Not Hollywood Productions. While holding a job at Cloudless Weddings for seven years, he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in photography, met his future spouse Audrey Mirabella Botti, and tied the knot after almost half a decade.
Understandably, all these big life changes made it difficult for Jeremy to remain on “Little People, Big World”. When he and Audrey celebrated their daughter Ember Jean’s first birthday, they decided to leave the show for good; their second child, Bode James, was born in January 2020. Jeremy and Audrey also opted out of buying part of Roloff Farms, and are more interested in establishing themselves in the creative industry.
The couple launched their own podcast in November 2018 in which they share anecdotes about their personal life, interview entrepreneurs, and much more. They have also published two relationship self-help books entitled “A Love Letter Life” – a New York Times Bestseller – and “Creative Love: 10 Ways to Build a Fun and Lasting Love”.
There is not much available information about Matt and Amy’s only daughter Molly, as she stopped appearing on the show years ago, but is believed to have formed her own family as well.