‘Little House on the Prairie’: Interesting Facts About the Show

Little House on the Prairie was on many TV sets in households across America in the ’70s an ’80s. Here are some interesting facts about the show and the Little House on the Prairie cast.

Nellie Oleson’s hair wasn’t real

The cast of Little House on the Prairie pose for a photo.
The Little House on the Prairie cast | D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Extra

Alison Arngrim (she played Nellie Oleson) revealed she wore a wig during her time on the show. At first, she wore her real hair, but producers decided to give her a wig because her hair wouldn’t hold the curls they wanted her to have for the character.

“They tried curling my hair for the first few episodes,” says Arngrim during her interview with Megyn Kelly. “You can see in a couple of episodes the curls are starting to go in the humidity. They tried curling my hair, and as you can see my hair is very straight. And it did not work out, and they said, ‘You know, we’re getting a wig.’”

Arngrim says she wore a custom-made wig for the show, but it was “quite painful to wear for a long period of time.” However, she tells Kelly she thought the wig looked “fabulous.”

The cast ate Kentucky Fried Chicken during dinner scenes

In her book My Prairie Cookbook, Melissa Gilbert (she played Laura Ingalls) reveals the cast often ate Kentucky Fried Chicken. They also ate chicken and dumplings, Dinty Moore beef stew, Pillsbury biscuits, pies, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Gilbert says the Nellie Oleson character and her family ate roast beef, potatoes, green beans, and gravy.

The cast also ate pies that came from the local grocery store. The rest of the food was from the cafeteria on the Paramount studios lot. Gilbert says there was always a lot of food left over after they shot their scenes. Instead of throwing food away, the cast and crew would eat the leftovers. 

Bloopers weren’t unusual on ‘Little House on the Prairie’

Gilbert reveals in her book that bloopers weren’t uncommon on the set of Little House on the Prairie. During “The Odyssey,” an episode from season 5, someone tries to throw Albert off the train. However, Laura pushes the man off the train before he’s able to hurt Albert. During that scene, a dummy is thrown from the train. The dummy can be seen sitting in the grass while the stuntman is rolling down the hill past it. If you want a good laugh,  check out a few more of the funniest Little House on the Prairie bloopers in this link.

Karen Grassle wore a prosthetic over her leg in one episode

Karen Grassle (she played Caroline Ingalls) wore a prosthetic over her leg during Little House on the Prairie Season 2 Episode 15 (titled “A Matter of Faith”). During this episode, Grassle’s character cuts her leg, and it gets infected. She wore different prosthetics to show how the infection progresses. Grassle says in her book Bright Lights, Prairie Dust that this episode was “heaven” for her because she was the star of the episode, she was given a chance to display the depth of her acting talent.

Michael Landon saved money by using old clips from past episodes

According to Melissa Francis (she played Cassandra Ingalls), Michael Landon was “cheap as hell.” She says Landon (who was not only the star of the show but also an executive producer) was always looking for ways to reduce production costs.

One way Francis says he saved money was by reusing old clips from previous episodes. He would have these clips weaved into new episodes as flashbacks. Francis says this was “a totally brilliant way to save some dough.” By using old clips as flashbacks, Landon created new episodes without spending a lot of money. 

RELATED: ‘Little House on the Prairie’: Worst Episodes from Each Season

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