When the really popular TV series Bonanza left the airwaves after ~ 14 years, Michael “Little Joe” Landon went looking for a new project. NBC executives approached him v the idea of developing a made-for-TV film based upon Laura Ingalls Wilder’s famous Little home on the Prairie series of books.
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The movie was a vast ratings hit, and also since it had actually a sort-of cliffhanger ending, the network to be deluged through inquiries native viewers questioning “What happened to the Ingalls family next?” Thus, a collection was born. And also while the show itself was an extremely family-friendly and also wholesome, the antics behind the scene of the long-running collection weren"t always so PG-rated.
1. Pa Ingalls’ hair color came out of a bottle.
Michael Landon had actually gone prematurely grey throughout his Bonanza days, if he to be still in his twenties, and also used Clairol tool Ash Brown to color his crowning glory. He continued using the exact same product once he began on Little residence on the Prairie, dyeing his hair himself. But the scorching, unrelenting sun in Simi Valley, California (where the series shot) would turn his hair an odd shade of lavender after ~ a few days, which brought about production delays (lights would need to be changed so regarding not reflect ~ above his head). Eventually Landon provided in and allowed a experienced on the set to color his hair.
2. Michael Landon request Karen Grassle to readjust her name once she was cast as “Ma” Ingalls.
Actually Michael Landon asked she to adjust back come her real name, i beg your pardon is Karen Grassle (pronounced “Grass-lee”). When she auditioned because that the role of Caroline Ingalls, she walk so as Gabriel Tree, her stage name in ~ the time.
3. The new of duration clothing wore off easily for the young girls in the cast.
All the exterior Little home on the Prairie scenes to be filmed in ~ the 10,000-acre huge Sky Ranch in Simi Valley, California, where a “cool” day intended temperatures in the low 90s. On most days, the mercury struggle triple digits—and the young actresses were clad native head to toe in hefty cotton stockings, petticoats, pinafores, and bonnets. Both Alison Arngrim, that played Nellie Oleson, and also an assistant manager passed the end from the warmth on the very first day that filming.
4. Many of those dinners Ma served were yes, really Dinty Moore beef stew.
Any dinner step that confirmed some kind of share meat and gravy ~ above the family’s plates—regardless of whether Ma announced the it was rabbit, chicken, or squirrel—actually contained canned Dinty Moore brand beef stew. Those instances when Laura was viewed pulling a drumstick the end of she tin having lunch pail in ~ school? Well, those came no from the Ingalls’ chicken coop, but from Kentucky Fried Chicken.
5. Nellie Oleson’s perfect curls were actually a wig.
For the first couple of weeks of filming, Arngrim’s own hair was transformed into a collection of sausage curls via a torturous old-fashioned curling iron that had actually to it is in heated in one oven. Finally it was chose that a custom-made wig would certainly be more humane, not to mention both time- and also cost-effective. The wig had to be organized in place with an huge metal comb to add dozens that long, straight, steel hairpins, every one of which typically dug into Arngrim’s scalp and caused it come bleed.
6. Sean pen made his exhilaration debut on Little home On The Prairie.
The season 1 illustration “The Voice of Tinker Jones” to be directed by Leo Penn, who cast his wife, Eileen Ryan, in the episode—and likewise brought in his 13-year-old boy Sean come play an uncredited schoolboy.
7. Michael Landon preserved the young actors entertained.
According come People, Michael Landon would certainly pretend to pick lice the end of Melissa Gilbert’s hair ~ an emotionally scene. Frogs were likewise a huge hit. “We used to go v Melissa
8. Charles Ingalls’s manly swagger to be the result of distinct boots.
Michael Landon was just 5-feet-9-inches tall and didn’t want any kind of other gibbs to tower end him, so he wore four-inch elevator in his boots. If that an increase wasn’t quite enough in a details scene, he would make certain that Charles to be positioned ~ above a staircase, a ladder, or even a slim mound the dirt.
9. No one ever got really close to mar Ingalls.
Both Melissa Gilbert and Alison Arngrim report in their autobiographies the Melissa Sue Anderson (known together “Missy” on the set), who played mar Ingalls, remained somewhat cold and also aloof throughout her time ~ above Little residence on the Prairie. There were rumors amongst the guardians top top the collection that Missy’s mommy was overprotective and controlling and also that to be the reason the young actress often tended to save to herself.
10. Carrie Ingalls was played by a collection of similar twins.
Rachel and Sidney shrub (credited onscreen together “Lindsay Sidney Greenbush” and known as “Sugar Lump” and “Foxy Robin” to anyone on the set) were simply 3 years old when they were cast to pat the youngest Ingalls daughter. It is Sidney falling down while running during the opened credits; the manager rotated the girls every few hours in accordance v California labor laws for such young children. In this case, just prior to filming the hillside to run scene, the had referred to as for a “Fresh twin, please!” and also Mrs. Shrub hastily awoke the napping Sidney and also quickly put her tiny shoes back on … unfortunately, top top the wrong feet. Michael Landon thought it was adorable when she tripped and hit the ground and also left the in the sequence.
11. Michael Landon was an extremely proud the his physique.
Landon never ever passed increase an chance to show up shirtless on camera, i beg your pardon is why Pa never broke an eight or foot in any of his agriculture mishaps, just a rib or two. He also reportedly desired to go au naturel underneath his tight-fitting prairie trousers.
12. Jason Bateman starred in 23 episodes.
In 1981, future Emmy-winner Jason Bateman landing the function of James Cooper Ingalls; it was his first TV role. Prefer Landon, Bateman became a TV director—in 2019, Bateman won an Emmy because that directing self in Ozark. "The just thing that i remember yes, really soaking in to be that first big task on small House ~ above the Prairie,” Bateman said Variety. “That team of actors had actually been together due to the fact that Bonanza, and also the method in which everybody functioned was very familial. It to be a warmth place.”
Bateman claimed that Landon influenced him both together a director and as a kind of dad figure. “He was the George Clooney of that time. The crew loved him, the sector loved him, guys wanted to it is in him and also women want to be through him,” Bateman said.
13. Nellie and Laura were actually best friends.
Mean ol’ Nellie Oleson gained her lights punched out an ext than as soon as by competitor Laura Ingalls, however in actual life Alison Arngrim and also Melissa Gilbert became the best of friends soon after they an initial met in the makeup trailer. They had actually sleepovers at every other’s homes and became partners in crime as soon as it came to playing pranks on their co-stars.
14. Michael Landon’s off-screen to work permanently damaged his relationship with Melissa Gilbert.
Melissa Gilbert became an extremely close come Michael Landon’s family members after she was hired because that Little home on the Prairie—especially his son, Michael Jr., and daughter Leslie. Lynn Landon and also Melissa’s mother, Barbara Crane, became best friends and the two households often vacationed together. Someday Barbara damaged the news to her daughter that, “Auntie Lynn and also Mike space separating.” Gilbert had actually noticed the Landon had been exceptionally attentive to “that makeup girl” (as makeup artist Cindy Clerico, two decades Landon’s junior, was described by some actors members) on the set, however she’d never dreamed that he’d leave his mam of 19 years for her.
Gilbert stayed polite and also professional while working v Landon top top the collection after he married Clerico, but she quit socializing through him after hours. After ~ Little residence on the Prairie ended, she didn’t speak come Landon again until 1990, as soon as she experienced him in ~ Leslie Landon’s wedding. Landon’s highly publicized breakup with Lynn also cost the some financially rewarding endorsement deals, consisting of his longtime contract with Kodak.
15. Adult beverages were regularly imbibed throughout the workday.
Alison Arngrim often captured a nap in the prop truck throughout her breaks, and also it to be there—while she was hunkered down on the former seat—that she overheard Michael Landon speak “Hit me” to propman Ron Chiniquy in ~ the behind of the truck. She lifted her head come peek and also saw Chiniquy pour the requested four fingers that Wild Turkey right into Landon’s coffee cup, also though that was only 10 a.m. She later found out indigenous Ron that the crew generally went through two situations of Coors beer every day while working. Particularly stressful days, when rewrites and retakes to be necessary, were described as “three-case days.” after filming was wrapped because that the day, a makeshift bar with difficult liquor was set up top top a sawhorse for the “real” unwinding to begin. Yet both Arngrim and Gilbert claimed that regardless of all the alcohol intake going on, no one (neither actors nor crew) ever showed up to be the the very least bit tipsy, nor did their job-related suffer.
16. Victor French briefly left the to present to star in a short-lived sitcom.
Victor French, who had starred in Gunsmoke and also Bonanza, play Isaiah Edwards top top small House and directed a couple of episodes. The left the show in 1977 to star as a small-town Georgia police chef in sitcom Carter Country, i beg your pardon was sort of a comedic variation of In the warm of the Night. In 1979, once ABC canceled Carter county after two seasons, Landon invited French back. And also in 1984, French joined Landon in Highway to Heaven. In 1989, French passed away of cancer, 2 years before Landon’s own death from cancer.
17. Mar INgalls"s blindness was difficult for Melissa Sue Anderson.
During the fourth season, mary Ingalls go blind. “It was the just time in the history of television that a collection regular had actually lost your sight and not acquired it ago … ever,” Melissa Sue Anderson, who played Mary, called Albany daily News. “Therefore, the was interesting and challenging at the beginning … but a very challenging thing to sustain end a duration of years.” at first, Anderson thought the plotline was offered as a method to write her out of the script. However Landon assured her “to trust me,” he told People.
In 1978, Anderson’s performance garnered her an Emmy nomination, yet a couple of years later she left the show. “As far as what Mary could do, my character became restricted because she couldn’t view … This, ultimately, is the factor why I determined not to remain with the show and also only perform three episodes in the eighth season,” she said.
18. Michael Landon didn’t desire to salary Karen Grassle much more money.
Despite the set being mainly drama-free, Grassle did have one concern with Landon. “When we were in the top 10
19. They filmed top top the same set as The sorcerer’s Of Oz .
In the so late 1970s, the production relocated from a great soundstage come MGM. “They were ripping up the floor of the set, and what Melissa
20. Breaking Bad’s Jonathan banks played a criminal.
Nearly 30 years before he played Mike Ehrmantrautin Breaking bad (and then on Better call Saul), Jonathan financial institutions played a frontier criminal in the 1980 Little House episode “Darkness Is mine Friend.” Banks’s Jed and two other men take Laura and Mary hostage in ~ Mary’s college for the blind. Thankfully, Pa Ingalls saves the day.
21. Wildfires have ruined the Little home on the Prairie sets—more 보다 once.
In 2003, a fire swept through the Simi Valley, California set, recognized as big Sky Movie Ranch. The fires ruined a replica that the Ingalls" homestead, which had actually long been a tourist attraction. It likewise wiped the end a lot of cattle. In might 2019, lightning propelled another damaging fire top top the ranch.
22. The Simi sink ranch may have actually been a “sick” set.
Rocketdyne’s Santa Susana ar Laboratory was the website of one of the worst atom meltdowns in U.S. History back in 1959, and illegal handle of atom waste continued in the area until the 1980s. No actual connect has ever been admitted or proven publicly, yet there have actually been murmurings because that years that the variety of cancer cases amongst Little House actors and crew members may have actually some link to the chemical and also radioactive contamination in that area. Michael Landon died of pancreatic cancer; Victor French (Isaiah Edwards) passed away of lung cancer (he and also Landon were heavy smokers, though); Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey) passed away of mesothelioma; Kevin Hagen (Doc Baker) surrendered to esophageal cancer; and also Charlotte Stewart (Miss Beadle) is a chest cancer survivor."
23. Nellie’s damaged arm and also screams to be both genuine in that well known runaway wheelchair scene.
“Bunny,” the episode wherein Nellie it s okay thrown indigenous the steed she’d won from Laura in a vault episode and ends up paralyzed, is a fan favorite. The climactic step occurs quickly after Laura discovers the Nellie can, in fact, walk and also has to be faking she paralysis simply to gain attention. She gets she revenge by taking Nellie come the optimal of a hill in she wheelchair and giving she an almighty shove. In reality, Arngrim had actually recently broken her wrist in a skateboarding accident, for this reason the plaster actors on her eight was real. And also while a stunt double was supplied for the shot wherein Nellie flew out of the chair and into the pond, Arngrim was required to drive the rickety, 1870s-era wood wheelchair down a rocky slope so she might be filmed screaming because that the close-ups. The chair to be attached to safety and security ropes, yet just before the second take, as the director yelled “Action!” among the crew members cried the end “Oh no, the rope broke!” the hadn’t, but Arngrim didn’t understand that and also her terrified screams together she bounced and also rolled down the hill, struggling with one hand to continue to be in the chair, to be authentic.
24. Laura and also Manly’s wedding night was not as romantic together it seemed.
Although ~ above the show Laura to be 17 when she married Almanzo Wilder, in actual life Melissa Gilbert to be a an extremely innocent, romantically inexperienced 15-year-old whose very first kiss was on a sound stage. Her initial kiss v 23-year-old Dean butler (the actor who played Wilder) was just the 3rd time she’d kissed a “boy” and also it squicked her out since he had the tiniest bit of moustache stubble. The assumed of having to cuddle in bed through him (after the pair had wed on the series) was even more frightening come the teenager.
In an attempt to shot to joke Gilbert the end of her nervousness, butler quietly crooned some lyrics from “Strangers in the Night” right into her ear prior to the cameras rolled. Regrettably his effort had a cringe-worthy opposite effect on Gilbert, and she pleaded v Michael Landon afterward for any kind of romantic scenes between Laura and also Almanzo come be minimal to hugs or a peck ~ above the cheek.
25. Laura and Manly’s absence of chemistry was a reason for concern among the producers.
A “secret” memo to be circulated at one suggest discussing the romantic pairings ~ above the show; Laura and also Almanzo just didn’t look prefer they to be in love, and couldn’t the actors perform something to generate some “sparks” in between the two of them? The same memo mentioned that once Nellie and also Percival were with each other they “looked choose they f*** choose crazed weasels.” Unbeknownst come the manufacturing staff, Steve Tracy, who played Nellie’s husband Percival, to be gay. However he and Alison Arngrim were an excellent friends and also used come swap passionate, open-mouth kisses during their love scene just since they knew the grossed Melissa Gilbert out.
26. Michael Landon directed almost half of the series episodes.
Not only did Landon beat a lead role, yet he likewise wrote, directed, and produced plenty of of the episodes. Out of 205 episodes, the directed 90 that them, including the two-hour pilot, the last episode, and additionally TV movies little House years and small House: The last Farewell . He ongoing his directing and also producing job in Highway to sky , which debuted in 1984.
27. Michael Landon no "tinker" with perfection.
In her publication Confessions the a Prairie Bitch, Arngrim wrote around what type of manager Landon was. “Michael was really much a pan of the ‘If that ain’t broke, don’t settle it’ philosophy, and also if something worked well enough in the very first take, nothing bothering tinkering with perfection—just speak ‘print’ and move on.”
28. NBC and Michael Landon canceled the show due to the fact that Melissa Gilbert was all grown up.
In 1984, Landon told The brand-new York time why he and also the network made decision to finish the show. One reason was partly due to the fact that of declining ratings, and the other had actually to execute with Melissa Gilbert’s Laura. “I didn"t think a married woman have to still be coming to her father because that advice,” that said. “But when we began this show, we never imagined it would last this long.”
29. When filming ~ above Little home On The Prairie finished, they go out up the sets.
In 1984, Landon directed the critical TV Prairie movie, The last Farewell, which connected the townspeople blowing up Walnut Grove for this reason a land baron couldn’t have it. In actual life, Landon notified the set to be blown come bits. Producer Kent McCrary explained that NBC leased the land indigenous Getty Oil agency and the Newhall soil and advance Corporation and had come return the land ago to that is “original state,” definition it had to look choose it did prior to production relocated in. McCrary suggested demolition, however, Landon said: “What if us blow up the town? that would get the buildings all in pieces and also you tho can carry in your tools to choose up the debris and also cart it away.” for this reason he created the explosions into the script however made sure to leaving the homestead and also church untouched.
“I think it renders for a an excellent strong pioneer ending,” Landon said. “It was additionally a pretty catharsis because that the cast and crew. Over there were lots of tears when we ultimately blew increase the town. The actors had all become very attached come their own buildings, so that was an extremely emotional.”
30. Castle did check runs before they blew everything up.
“We did fairly a few tests first to make sure nobody would get hurt,” Landon called The new York time . “So when we lastly blew everything up, the went off prefer clockwork. We did it every in one day.”
31. Gibbs Stan Ivar retained his homestead.
During the final season, a brand-new family, the Carters, move into the homestead. Ivar play head-of-the-family man Carter. Landon didn’t desire the house destroyed, so follow to Laura’s Prairie, Ivar disassembled the collection and take it it house with him. He supposedly has actually the set in warehouse or in his barn. In ~ one suggest he tried to donate the set to Walnut Grove, Minnesota, however Ed Friendly, the owner of the Prairie brand, clogged it. The replica home can be gone, yet at the very least the initial still exists.
32. small House ~ above the Prairie got a cult following in France.
Today, Little residence on the Prairie deserve to be watched in 140 countries, consisting of France. Arngrim security a few months a year touring the country. “It’s comparable to David Hasselhoff and Germany,” she said The brand-new York Times. “They don’t think Nellie is mean. They simply think she French.”
33. Alison Arngrim learned to embrace "Nasty Nellie."
In 2017, Arngrim claimed that she it s okay “recognized much more now than I did when the show was running.” and somehow she has not worn down of she most well known role. "I thought I’d be sick the it, but now, it simply makes me smile."
34. Infant Grace published a book called Prairie Devotional.
Wendi Turnbaugh (a.k.a. Wendi Lou Lee) was literally a baby when she was cast to play grace Ingalls, the youngest Ingalls child. In august 2019, she published a faith-based book around the show. “My husband actually gave me the idea, probably about 10 years ago,” Turnbaugh said. "I thought it to be a really good idea. However I didn"t have actually the confidence.” but when she was recovering native a mind tumor, she started writing the book. “It started out as a blog simply to inform people of mine health and also what was happening, and also it ended up being this,” she said.
35. Wendi Turnbaugh was likewise a twin.
Identical pair Rachel and also Sidney Greenbush played Carrie Ingalls, and also Turnbaugh additionally had a real-life pair (named Brenda).
36. One viewer really hated Nellie.
Nellie made rather the villain, and also one human being in particular took your hate as well far. Arngrim defined that when she was 16, a person threw a half-filled cup the orange soda at her head if she to be participating in the Hollywood Christmas parade. “I was in reality impressed,” Arngrim said. “I mean, how good did you need to be to do someone therefore angry? i won’t ever before forget it. Possibly that human will lastly come forward and confess.”
37. Wendi Turnbaugh thinks world are drawn to the show’s faith.
small House debuted 45 year ago, yet it still resonates with fans. In an interview through The Christian Perspective, Turnbaugh explained why she thought world still gravitate towards the series. “People room starving for household values and also faith-filled content,” she said. “I think world might say the they don’t desire that or need that. But that is what draws people in.”
38. Nellie became a happy icon.
For decades, Arngrim has immersed herself in the happy community. She father was gay, and she worked for one AIDS charity. She called The new York times exactly how gay men embraced Nellie as one of their own. “I turned towards the people who were still clapping the loudest because that her,” she said. She performed a one-woman display “Confessions that a Prairie Bitch” in ~ a gay will in Orlando and also sold duplicates of her book at Nellie’s sporting activities Bar. “Little Nellie to be hilarious through that hair and those petticoats, kind of favor a traction queen in training,” Lady Bunny, a DJ, told The new York Times. Most recently, Arngrim was a part of Los Angeles DragCon.
39. The present may have actually led to much more people reading books.
In a 1974 interview through People, Landon mentioned that book stores and also libraries preserved calling him and also praising him. “Because that the show,” he said, “there are going to it is in an awful lot of youngsters reading.”
40. Alison Arngrim wants to play Mrs. Oleson if the display is ever before rebooted.
Arngrim stated that fans constantly request for the actors to reunite. “There’s only so much of us left, however we’d absolutely all do it,” she said. She suggested casting Stranger Things’s Millie Bobby Brown come play Nellie, and the old cast could make cameos. “Also, i am the correct age now come play Mrs. Oleson and I’m available, so I have no shame,” she said. “I would play her in a second. Ns would totally do that,”
41. A Little home on the Prairie feature film was announced.
In 2016, big was working on a tiny House movie, but no word if that project is quiet happening.
42. And, just because: this is disco Half-Pint together we never saw her in Walnut Grove.
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We hope you enjoy the singing and also dancing talents of Melissa Gilbert on this 1978 rate of the short-lived variety collection Dick Clark’s Live Wednesday.
Additional sources: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, by Alison ArngrimPrairie Tale, by Melissa GilbertThe means I see It: A Look back on mine Life on tiny House, by Melissa Sue AndersonDiary the a phase Mother’s Daughter, by Melissa Francis