‘Little House on the Prairie’: Alison Arngrim Said They Timed Filming Nellie’s ‘Most Cruel and Obnoxious’ Scenes When She Had Her Period

Nellie Oleson wasn’t a very likable character on Little House on the Prairie, in part because of Alison Arngrim’s believable performance. In her book, Confessions of a Prairie B*tch, Arngrim shared how she believed the show’s producers used her PMS to their advantage when they filmed Nellie scenes.

Little House on the Prairie cast member Alison Arngrim
Alison Arngrim | NBCU Photo Bank

Alison Arngrim taught Melissa Gilbert a lesson about PMS

In her book, Arngrim detailed how terrible she felt when she had PMS and how it brought out a pretty unpleasant side of her.

During a slumber party at co-star Melissa Gilbert’s house, the guests pranked her by putting some things in her bed and when she woke up in the middle of the night, she flew into a rage over it.

She woke to find things like a rock, a hairbrush, and hair curlers in bed with her and got very angry. “I wasn’t completely awake, but I remember picking up every single thing in the bed, going to the door and opening it, and then throwing everything as hard as I could into the main room,” she wrote. The acctor said she went back to sleep but the other girls didn’t wake her in the morning because her angry display scared them so much.

“Melissa told me they didn’t wake me for breakfast because they thought I might kill them,” she recalled. “I assured them I wouldn’t but explained that it’s very, very dangerous to put foreign objects into the bed of someone with PMS.”

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Alison Arngrim often filmed Nellie scenes when she had PMS

Arngrim’s PMS moodiness, she noted in her book, could be channeled into the Nellie character She said she thought the Little House on the Prairie producers knew when she had her period and filmed scenes when Nellie was at her absolute worst around her cycle.

“Fortunately, I was able to benefit from my PMS. I don’t know if the producers kept a calendar and charted my cycle, but miraculously, almost every one of the episodes where Nellie is at her most vicious, cruel, and obnoxious were shot while I was having my period,” she recalled.

She listed a few: the “Little Women” episode with the black wig, the “Music Box” episode, “where I make the little stuttering girl cry,” and “The Cheaters” episode where she and a classmate steal exam answers from his mother, the substitute teacher.

Of the Laura and Nellie mud fight scene in “Back to School, Part II,” Arngrim noted that it was so bad, Gilbert was “lucky she lived.”

“That was one of our best fights, and Melissa and I loved it,” Arngrim recalled.

“Right before we started filming, the director told us, ‘There’s no sound, so don’t worry about saying anything,'” she added.

Given that piece of direction, the actors took the opportunity to let their worst curse words fly. “Melissa grabbed me, threw me down in the mud, and screamed, ‘Take that, you B*TCH!’ I came up yowling and thumped into her full force, shouting, ‘Oh yeah? F*CK YOU!’”

“We screamed and swore and called each other every filthy name in the book and beat the crap out of each other,” she continued. “We were laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe.”