Little House on the Prairie was an award-winning show that aired on NBC between 1974 and 1983. The show was based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autobiographical books of the same name. NBC executive Ed Friendly came up with the idea of converting the books into a film and convinced Michael Landon to direct the pilot movie. Landon agreed on the condition that he would also get to play Charles Ingalls, a loving farmer who doesn’t get scared of flexing his muscles every once in a while. Karen Grassle played Caroline Ingalls, the perfect prairie wife and mother. Melissa Gilbert was chosen to play the role of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Melissa Sue Anderson played Mary and Lindsay and Sidney played Carrie Ingalls.
The show deserves much applause, primarily because the books weren’t easy to be converted to TV. The Ingalls moved around a lot, which made writing screenplay even more difficult. However, the show’s writer did a fabulous job of building each character and plot, sometimes taking clues from Wilder’s writings and at other times, using their creativity to build a world of their dream. Little House on the Prairie was a family show with a lot of melodrama — there were a lot of tears and laughs. However, the show stood out in its treatment of tricky subjects, such as drug abuse and domestic violence and when the writers of the show ran out of ideas, they often looked to Bonanza for inspiration. In this video, we give you some interesting facts about Little House on the Prairie and tell you how the show often took inspiration from Bonanza.
Facts Verse Presents How Little House on the Prairie Copied Bonanza. Before we go ahead with our interesting facts, we want to take a moment to request you to like and subscribe to our channel and press the bell icon to stay updated about our latest videos.
Michael Landon Directed Almost Half of the Shows’ Nine Seasons
When Ed Friendly came up with the concept of a film based on the Little House on the Prairie books, he went straight to Michael Landon to ask him to direct the film. Michael Landon agreed on one condition: that he would play Charles Ingalls. This is the story of how Michael Landon was chosen to play Charles Ingalls in the Little House on the Prairie series. Since Michael had already directed the film, it was only logical to expect him to direct a few episodes of the series. However, Michael ended up directing almost half of the episodes of the series. He directed the pilot episode as well as the last episode, a total of 90 out of 205 episodes.
Michael Landon Wasn’t the Only Thing the Show Borrowed from Bonanza
Michael Landon was perhaps the most important thing that Ed Friendly borrowed from Bonanza for Little House on the Prairie. However, Landon isn’t the only thing that the minds behind the show borrowed from Bonanza. The ending theme song of Little House was used as incidental music in some of the later seasons of Bonanza. Similarly, the writers also rewrote many Bonanza scripts to produce new Little House on the Prairie episodes. For instance, Bonanza’s ‘A Matter of Circumstance’ and ‘A Dream to Dream’ became ‘A Matter of Faith’ and ‘Someone Please Love Me’ on Little House on the Prairie.
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Alison Arngrim Was Almost Going to Be an Ingalls
Alison Arngrim played the role of Nellie Oleson, the catty and manipulative daughter of Nels and Harriet Oleson, the owners of the Walnut Grove mercantile. Nellie appeared in only three out of all the Little House books. However, in the TV series, the importance of her role grew with each season because she was the perfect antagonist to the good-natured and honest Laura Ingalls. Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson, connected so well with the audiences that to this day, she is most remembered for her portrayal of Nellie Oleson. However, only a few people know that Alison had auditioned for the roles of Laura and Mary Ingalls, and she was almost cast as one of the Ingalls.
Nellie Oleson’s Curls Weren’t Real
More than her sharp-witted tongue, Nellie Oleson became famous for her elaborate curls. Her curls weren’t real, though. For the first few seasons, the make-up team on the show tried to transform Arngrim’s natural hair into sausage curls. However, those were the days when curling irons were heated in ovens and the whole process of curling hair was almost inhumane. The team, therefore, decided to use a wig instead. The wig had to be put in place using metal combs and metal pins, which often caused Arngrim’s scalp to bleed.
But the Expression of Fear on Nellie’s Face in ‘Bunny’ Was Real
Her wig wasn’t the only thing that made Arngrim suffer while on the show. In episode 2 of season 3 titled ‘Bunny’, Nellie feigns an injury and confines herself to a wheelchair. When Laura discovers that Nellie is lying, she shoves her down a slope while in her wheelchair. At the time of filming, Arngrim had already broken a bone while skateboarding. To portray a real look of fear on her face, the crew decided to scare Arngrim by yelling that the rope on the chair had broken, right after Laura pushes the chair. The crew had added safety ropes, so everyone was safe but the fear on Nellie’s face wasn’t acting — it was real.
Little House on the Prairie Enjoyed Immense Popularity in Spain
During the 70s and 80s, La Casa de la Pradera (Little House on the Prairie) was one of the most popular shows in Spain. The show also fetched Karen Grassle, who played Caroline Quiner Ingalls, the TP de Oro Award for Best Foreign Actress in 1976, and the show the Best Foreign Series award in the same year. La Casa de la Pradera also made Katherine MacGregor, who played Harriet Oleson, and Mellisa Sue Alison, who played Mary Ingalls, household names, getting them offers for Spanish shows and films.
The Heat on the Set Was Unbearable
Though the series was about a family living in Plum Creek in Minnesota, it was actually shot on a 10,000-acre ranch in Simi Valley, California, where the temperature reached close to 110 degrees during the day. This often made shooting very difficult, mostly because all the young girls would be dressed in period costumes featuring stockings, petticoats, bonnets, and more. The story goes that Alison Arngrom, who played Nellie Oleson, true to her character passed out from the heat on the very first day of shooting.
It Was the Only Show to Stay in Production Through the 1980 and 1981 SAG and WGA Strikes
In 1980, Hollywood witnessed a massive actors’ strike, and exactly a year later, the writers also went on strike. During these tumultuous times, when most primetime fiction TV shows were finding it hard to stay in production, Little House on the Prairie was the only show that continued to stay in production throughout the two strikes. How? Well, Landon entered into separate contracts with both the Screen Actors Guild as well as the Writers Guild of America which allowed the show to stay in production even as other series went off the air.
During Its Nine Seasons, Eight Oscar-Winning Actors Appeared on the Show
Little House on the Prairie was a successful show and thus, famous actors would often show great interest in making an appearance on the show. It is, therefore, no surprise that during its nine seasons, eight Oscar-winning actors appeared on the show. These are Burl Ives (The Big Country), Eileen Heckart (Butterflies Are Free), Ernest Borgnine (Marty), Louis Gossett, Jr. (An Officer And A Gentleman), Patricia Neal (Hud), Ralph Bellamy (Honorary Academy Award in 1987), Red Buttons (Sayonara) and Sean Penn (Mystic River and Milk).
One Episode Caused Audiences to Have Nightmares
The episode Sylvia aired on February 9, 1981. The episode revolved around Sylvia, a 15-year-old girl who lived with her father Hector Webb. Sylvia had matured faster than other girls in her class and therefore, often attracted the attention of young boys. In the episode, Sylvia becomes the first victim of a masked assailant. Sylvia hides the entire story from her father but when Mrs. Oleson discovers she is pregnant, the town begins to flow with nasty rumors. The episode was one of the most bizarre and reviled episodes of the entire series and gave many viewers nightmares.
Laura’s Kiss with Almanzo Was Melissa Gilbert’s First On-Screen and Real-Life Kiss
Laura Ingalls was eight years younger than Almanzo Wilder, her on-screen love. Their first on-screen kiss was also the first real-life kiss of Melissa Gilbert, the actress who played Laura. Shooting the scene was not easy. Moreover, the presence of Gilbert’s mom on the set made things even more difficult.
At the End of the Show, They Blew up the Village for a Reason
Before the beginning of the show, Kent McCray, the producer of the show, had entered into an agreement with the property owner that he would return the property to him as it was. Thus, when the filming of the show ended, Michael Landon suggested blowing up the entire village to restore the property and the production team agreed.
So, did you enjoy these fun facts about the Little House on the Prairie? Do you think the show copied Bonanza or did Bonanza simply provided inspiration for the show’s writers? Do let us know what you think.
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