'Little House on the Prairie': Alison Arngrim Said Melissa Sue Anderson Looked at Her and Melissa Gilbert Like ‘Juvenile Delinquents’

For many television sets, off-screen feuds and cliques become commonplace. Between long hours away from their loved ones and the pressure that comes with performing, tension will arise during filming. Little House on the Prairie was no exception. The long-running series had multiple cast members, many of whom were child stars. 

Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson on the show, shared what it was like to work with fellow child actors Melissa Sue Anderson and Melissa Gilbert. 

Alison Arngrim and Melissa Gilbert became close friends during ‘Little House on the Prairie’ 

In 1974, Little House on the Prairie premiered on NBC. Viewers watched the Ingalls family navigate through life in the 1870s and 1880s. As the show progressed, characters outside of the family began to surface. One of the series’ most notable characters was Nellie. She and Laura Ingalls (Gilbert) often rivaled in their episodes together. The feud between them went from insults to an epic mud fight in season 2. 

During an episode of Oprah: Where Are They Now? Gilbert said she had a completely different relationship with Arngrim than her Little House character. She said she and Arngrim became fast friends while on the set of the series. 

“My closest friend on the show who I hung out with the most growing up was Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie — who was my archrival,” Gilbert said, per Huffington Post. “We’re still really close.” 

Why Alison Arngrim and Melissa Gilbert weren’t friends with Melissa Sue Anderson 

In 2014, the Little House on the Prairie cast reunited for Entertainment Weekly. The reunion was the first time some actors saw each other since Little House star and creator Michael Landon died in 1991. During the interview, many of the show’s cast recalled Gilbert and Arngrim leading the pack when it came to behind the scenes pranks. However, not all of their fellow cast members were interested in playing with them. 

Arngrim said that Anderson often opted not to play with her and Gilbert. She said that Anderson possibly felt too cool and mature to be their friends off-screen. 

“[Anderson] looked at Melissa Gilbert and me like we were total juvenile delinquents,” she said. “I think she thought we would get her in trouble if she hung out with us, which is perfect for her character because Mary was such a little narc.”

Melissa Sue Anderson confirmed she wasn’t close to Alison Arngrim or Melissa Gilbert

Anderson decided to release a book about her life on Little House on the Prairie in 2010. In the memoir, Anderson barely talks about her on-screen sister, Gilbert. When asked why she didn’t mention Gilbert, she said they didn’t have any personal memories during that time. 

“I honestly do not have a lot of memories of the two of us,” Anderson told AJC’s Radio & TV Talk blog. “We were very, very different.”

As for Arngrim, Anderson confirmed that she was closer to Gilbert. However, she praised Arngrim for keeping her Little House on the Prairie character alive. 

“She made a career being nasty Nelly,” Anderson said. “She’s completely perpetuated that. She was a nice girl, kind of shy in the beginning. But she got through it. She was very zany, very off the wall. She and Melissa got along quite well.”

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