Little House on the Prairie is a classic television series based on a book series known as Little House. This series consisted of nine books, which were published by an author named Laura Ingalls Wilder between 1932 and 1943. The book series was based on her childhood, when she grew up in the Midwest between 1870 and 1894. During this time, American settlers were still exploring a large portion of land bought from France during the Louisiana Purchase.
This uncharted territory was still quite wild, and settlers invented the practice of homesteading. Families would pack up all of their things and build a new house in the Midwest. These homesteaders prided themselves on their self-sufficiency. There were no nearby stores to rely on, so they made all of their own clothes, grew their own food, and built their own houses.
At the time, the prospect of settling this land was incredibly exciting. Many families viewed it as a fresh start, as well as a grand adventure. However, life as a homesteader often proved to be quite difficult. Homesteaders were easily affected by injury and illness, especially since doctors were difficult to come by. Growing food could also be hard, and many families went hungry through the winter.
Laura Ingalls Wilder sought to capture all of her experiences as a girl in her book series. While the series itself is considered fictional, because the characters and their circumstances are made up, it is still based on actual historical events.
The series grew immensely popular among adults and children alike. Before long, it caught the attention of a man named Ed Friendly, who envisioned the series as a television show. He took his proposal to some other artists, and together they collaborated on making an all new television series called Little House on the Prairie.
The show aired on September 11th, 1974. It lasted for a total of eight seasons before ending on March 10th, 1982. The series preached family values, making it a favorite among households all over America. Today, many families still enjoy watching the show together.
In today’s video, we’re going to take a look at some of the behind the scenes secrets of Little House on the Prairie, as well as some of the drama that went on inside the cast. While many of the cast members appeared to have good relationships on screen, there was secretly some bad blood between some of the actors. Make sure you stick around, because we’re also going to reveal a feud between Melissa Gilbert and one of her fellow cast members that went on for years after the show ended!
Michael Landon Pulled Lots of Pranks On Set
Michael Landon, who played Charles Ingalls, was notorious for being a prankster while filming. He loved to joke around with his fellow cast members, and he also loved pulling practical jokes. Landon used spiders, snakes, and frogs to scare and surprise different actors on set. Sometimes, he would even hide a frog in his mouth, then open his mouth to reveal it while filming a scene. While the crew members were likely exasperated with his antics, Landon’s pranks did help pull the cast closer together. He even inspired two of the younger cast members, Melissa Gilbert and Alison Arngrim, to pull a few pranks of their own, such as putting saran wrap over the toilet seats!
Melissa Gilbert’s Bitter Feud
Melissa Gilbert played the main character of Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls. While on set, however, she developed a bitter feud with one of her fellow cast members. Young actor Shannen Doherty played the character Jenny Wilder. Doherty was starstruck by Gilbert, and would follow her around set and copy everything she did. Melissa Gilbert was extremely annoyed by this, but she nearly forgot about the feud once the show ended.
However, years later, Melissa Gilbert had a brief separation from her husband, Bo Brinkman. The two were attempting to fix their marriage, but while they were separated, Bo Brinkman had an affair with none other than Shannen Doherty herself! Melissa Gilbert confronted Doherty at an awards show, warning her that, if she ever saw her again, she would punch her.
Some Believe the Show Was Cursed
The saddest part about Little House on the Prairie was the unfortunate end of many former cast members. Years after the show ended, a large number of cast members contracted cancer. Michael Landon, Victor French, and Kevin Hagen all died from various kinds of cancer. For a time, fans of the show began to wonder if it was cursed.
However, more recently, a new theory behind the illnesses has come up. Little House on the Prairie was filmed in the Simi Valley desert. This location is actually quite close to the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. In 1959, a nuclear accident occured in this laboratory, which may be the reason why so many cast members died of cancer.
Melissa Gilbert’s Unlikely Friendship with Alison Arngrim
Melissa Gilbert and Alison Arngrim played Laura Ingalls and Nellie Oleson, respectively. On the show, the two were bitter rivals. In real life, however, the two cast members were actually the best of friends. In fact, they would even hold sleepovers at each other’s houses. Thankfully, the two were such talented actors that they were able to pretend to hate one another for the cameras.
Many fans of the show were surprised to learn that Melissa Gilbert and Alison Arngrim, who were supposed to be rivals on the show, were actually the best of friends in real life. However, you may be even more surprised to learn which two cast members were supposed to be close on screen, but actually hated each other behind the scenes! Make sure you stick around to find out which two on screen siblings actually had a bitter rivalry. And if you’re enjoying this video so far, please take a moment to subscribe to our channel, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!
A Broken Relationship Mended
During the filming of Little House on the Prairie, Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landon developed a close father-daughter relationship. At first, it seemed as though the two were positively inseparable. However, Gilbert grew cold towards Landon after learning that he cheated on his wife with a makeup artist on the show named Cindy Clerico. Landon eventually divorced his wife and married Clerico, but Gilbert was highly disapproving.
After the show, she refused to speak to Landon for years, and it seemed as though their once close relationship had been destroyed forever. Later, however, she learned that Landon was slowly dying of pancreatic cancer. She put aside her grudge towards the actor, and the two were able to make amends just a week before Michael Landon’s tragic death.
Alison Anrgrim’s Wig Made Her Bleed
Alison Arngrim played the prissy and manipulative character Nellie Olesen on the show Little House on the Prairie, and while she was a darling in real life, she had no trouble tapping into her inner demon and portraying the most selfish and cruel character on the show. Surprisingly, however, part of Arngrim’s costume required her to wear a wig throughout the entire show. Her hair was so thin and fine that hair stylists were unable to do anything with it. Instead, they settled for a wig. Sadly, the wig was fastened so tightly to her scalp that it made poor Arngrim bleed several times!
Carrie Ingalls Was Played by Two Actors
At the time, child labor laws prevented directors from filming young actors for long periods of time. Acting can be quite exhausting, and children simply don’t have the physical or emotional endurance to keep it up that long. In order to meet filming deadlines, however, the crews had to get creative. They had a set of twins play the young character Carrie Ingalls, so that they could switch between actors without violating the child labor laws. It was a clever solution that worked out well, although you can sometimes spot a few differences between the two actors.
Melissa Gilbert and Melissa Sue Anderson Didn’t Get Along
Melissa Gilbert and Melissa Sue Anderson played siblings Laura and Mary Ingalls, respectively. While the two characters were quite close on the show, the two young actors couldn’t stand each other! They were professional enough to act polite for the sake of filming, and were able to pretend they cared for one another while the cameras were rolling. Behind the scenes, however, the two hardly even spoke. In an interview, Melissa Gilbert explained that she felt Melissa Sue Anderson was both cold and bratty towards her. However, Melissa Sue Anderson never opened up on her point of view, so we may never know the full story behind this feud.
Overall, Little House on the Prairie was a popular show with a lot of heart. However, the cast members weren’t always as friendly as they originally seemed. Were you more surprised to learn about Melissa Gilbert’s feud with Shannen, or with Melissa Sue Anderson? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!