‘Little House on the Prairie’: Alison Arngrim Says Melissa Sue Anderson Called Her ‘Stupid’

Little House on the Prairie star Alison Arngrim (she played Nellie Oleson) starred on the show for seven seasons. The actor says she had a challenging experience with co-star Melissa Sue Anderson (she played Mary Ingalls). Here’s what she revealed about working with Anderson.

Alison Arngrim and Melissa Sue Anderson had a tense first meeting

Melissa Gilbert, Melissa Sue Anderson, and Alison Arngrim as Laura Ingalls, Mary Ingalls, and Nellie Oleson, on 'Little House on the Prairie.'
Melissa Gilbert, Melissa Sue Anderson, and Alison Arngrim | NBCU Photo Bank

Arngrim described the first time she met Anderson on the set of Little House on the Prairie in her book Confessions of a Prairie B****. They were getting ready in hair and makeup. According to her, Anderson wasn’t warm. Arngrim says there was a quality about her that seemed rehearsed, much like a “beauty pageant contestant.” Arngrim says when they first met, Anderson “narrowed” her eyes at her and gave her an “artificial” smile.

During another occasion, Arngrim says Anderson seemed to be “threatening” her. They were in the hair and makeup department when she says their interaction became heated. The two of them were preparing for a scene when Anderson told Arngrim she was going to hit her for real during a fight scene they had coming up. “I’m really going to hit you, you know,” said Anderson according to Arngrim.

Arngrim thinks someone alerted the producers about their conversation, because it was decided at the last minute, they wouldn’t have a fight scene. Anderson would just slap Arngrim and that would be it. Arngrim says Melissa Gilbert warned her about Anderson when she first arrived. Gilbert claimed Anderson was “evil” and “tried to kill” her.

Alison Arngrim says Melissa Sue Anderson called her ‘stupid’

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Arngrim describes what seemed to be an unpleasant interaction with Anderson. She heard Anderson liked backgammon, so she tried to connect with her through the game. Arngrim thought this would be a way for them to get to know each other. She says she asked Anderson about the game, but she gave her a “bored” look.

Arngrim told her she didn’t know how to play, and she asked if it was difficult to play the game. According to Arngrim, Anderson told her she wasn’t surprised she didn’t know how to play because Arngrim has “always been a tad backward.”

Arngrim was surprised by Anderson’s “hostility.” She tried to give Anderson the benefit of the doubt and thought she might be joking, but she wasn’t laughing. Arngrim says Anderson continued by saying, “I think you’re a lot backward. In fact, you’re quite stupid.” Arngrim realized at that point that Anderson wasn’t interested in teaching her how to play backgammon, so she walked away.

How Alison Arngrim feels about Melissa Sue Anderson today

Arngrim says she and Anderson are not in contact today. When they worked together, according to her, Anderson was a “mystery” and didn’t open up about herself or her home life. She says Anderson didn’t allow anyone to get close to her. “The entire time I was on the show, I never went to her house, and she never came to mine,” says Arngrim in her book. “I had no idea where she lived. For all I know, she could have lived in a tree.”

Despite their differences, Arngrim wouldn’t be opposed to forming a friendship with Anderson. She doesn’t have any hard feelings about their interactions on the set of Little House. Arngrim says she and Anderson might find out they have a lot more in common than they realize. “I’ve always said, if she wants to be friends, I’ll buy the first pitcher of margaritas,” writes Arngrim.

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