Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert was just a “dorky” fifteen-year-old when she was introduced to her on-screen husband. To her horror, the man who was set to play Almanzo Wilder was in his 20s.
The idea of kissing a man with “stubble” petrified the young actor. It was so bad that she wanted to “run away and hide.”
So whenever there was a kissing scene between the two characters, Gilbert would beg Michael Landon to remove them. (She wanted them to be replaced with hugging scenes instead.)
Laura and Almanzo’s first kissing scene in ‘Little House on the Prairie’ was terrifying for Melissa Gilbert
In Gilbert’s memoir titled Prairie Tales, she reflects on how overprotected she was as a child. Her mother had never taught her about puberty or sexual matters. Because of her lack of knowledge, the Little House star remained oblivious to such things well into her teen years. (She even says that her mother refused to tell her what tampons were used for. When Gilbert asked, her mother simply said they were used for makeup.)
Because she was so inexperienced in the love department, she was frightened of her kissing scene with her co-star, who played Almanzo Wilder in the series. Gilbert claims that at the time, she had no interest in kissing anybody, especially a grown man. In her fifteen-year-old mind, the idea of kissing someone “with stubble” made her “sick to (her) stomach.”
Once the kissing scene was finally over, Gilbert “hurried off to the craft service table and popped some chips in my mouth to get rid of any cooties.”
Melissa Gilbert wanted to replace her kissing scenes between Laura and Almanzo with hugging scenes
Gilbert admits that whenever she’d see the name “Almanzo” appear in the scripts for Little House on the Prairie, she’d get “sick to her stomach.”
Just acting in any scene with him at all horrified her. She was riddled with fear whenever they had to share an on-screen kiss.
The Prairie star writes in her memoir, “Any time I saw a script in which Almanzo was supposed to kiss Laura, I begged whoever was standing near me to find Mike, and I’d ask him if we could change it to a hug. I was petrified by having to pretend to be in love when I’d never been in love.”
Gilbert continues, saying, “Obviously, I wasn’t experienced in everything I did as an actor, but love was different. Showing it required exposing more of myself and more places within myself than I was ready or able to do.”
Melissa Gilbert is now ‘great friends’ with Laura Ingalls’ on-screen lover, Almanzo Wilder
Thankfully, Gilbert is now very close friends with Dean Butler, the actor who once terrified her and made her feel “sick to (her) stomach.”
She writes about their friendship in her memoir. “Thankfully, today we’re great friends,” she says. “He knows he scared the crap out of me, and that as a result, I made a point of doing everything I could to make him as uncomfortable as possible.”