Michael Landon cast Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie in 1974. Forming a special bond with Landon over the years, Gilbert also developed friendships with some of her young co-stars and named one she remains close with to this day.
Melissa Gilbert and Alison Arngrim portrayed enemies on ‘Little House’
Though Gilbert and co-star Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson) were rivals on Little House, the two became BFFs off camera. Navigating adolescence together during their years on the series, Gilbert and Arngrim had an instant connection. Gilbert frequently gets asked who was her favorite person on set and she always has a quick response.
“Hands down, Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson,” Gilbert wrote in My Prairie Cookbook. “She’s the only cast member aside from Mike that I had a consistent relationship with off the set.”
The Little House alum didn’t have any problem sharing Arngrim’s positive attributes, which is clearly a long list in Gilbert’s opinion.
“We are still really close today,” Gilbert remarked. “Mostly because she’s smart and funny and kind and… and… and…”
‘Little House’ fans still view the co-stars as Laura and Nellie
Arngrim also spoke of her friendship with her former cast mate, noting how some Little House fans always perceive them as adversaries even away from the set.
“It’s funny, I think if you play enemies on set you end up becoming friends,” Arngrim told Fox News in 2020. “We hit it off right away. … We would visit each other’s houses on weekends – people couldn’t believe it. I remember we were 13 and at a supermarket together. She went over to one aisle to look for something and people recognized us. And they suddenly felt compelled to protect her from me, like I was coming for her. People were just freaked out that we were friends.”
The former Little House star spoke of the close ties that remain between herself and Gilbert, as well as other members of the cast.
“The truth is, there wasn’t a point where we didn’t like each other,” Arngrim said of Gilbert. “People still assume that we hate each other. But we’re very much friends. We text and talk all the time. Some of us stay in touch on social media… The cast has become a family. We check in on each other all the time.”
Melissa Gilbert went to bat for Alison Arngrim
Gilbert and Arngrim were both pre-teens when they started on Little House. Despite playing a bully, Arngrim was quite shy in real life. Her shyness was misperceived and rumors began to swirl that Arngrim was unfriendly or difficult. When Gilbert heard of the gossip, she sprung into action.
“[Gilbert] had found out about the rumors and, having been the first to befriend me, knew they weren’t true,” Arngrim wrote in her book Confessions of a Prairie B*tch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated. “So what did she do about this at the age of 9? She called a meeting.”
Turns out several of the stage mothers on set were responsible for the false accusations against Arngrim. Gilbert immediately put the kibosh on the hearsay and lobbied for unity.
“‘We have to stick together,’” Argrim recalled Gilbert saying. “‘There’s going to be a lot of stuff like this, people trying to turn us against each other. … If any of you hear anything about one of us – especially if it comes from one of the stage moms – you come to me first, okay?’”