‘Little House on the Prairie’: Melissa Gilbert Says There Was ‘One Mean Person’ in the Cast. Who Was It?

Melissa Gilbert fell in love with her castmates on Little House on the Prairie. Her on-screen family became like a real-life family to her, and she cherished every moment on the Prairie set. Yet as Gilbert reveals in her tell-all memoir, Prairie Tale, there was one cast member with whom she never got along. And when Gilbert said that there was “one mean person” in the cast, we’re pretty sure we know exactly who she was talking about.

Hint: It’s not the actor who plays Nellie Oleson.

Little House on the Prairie
Little House on the Prairie | Bruce Bermilen/NBCU Photo Bank

Melissa Gilbert felt like her time on ‘Little House on the Prairie’ was ‘make-believe’

Gilbert had a difficult home life, where she was never allowed to express her emotions. Yet on the Prairie, while playing Laura Ingalls, she was given the freedom to express herself in nearly every episode. She was so happy on the set with her castmates that she says it felt like “make-believe.” Gilbert even compares her experience to “playing dress-up.” It was all fun and games for the most part.

That is, except when she had to do scenes with one particular cast member. And while their characters got along well, they had a bit of a rivalry going on in real life.

Believe it or not, that off-screen rivalry was between Gilbert and Melissa Sue Anderson (aka Mary Ingalls.)

Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls) and Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls) did not get along

Behind the scenes, Gilbert and Anderson didn’t have the sisterly bond that their characters share on the wholesome TV series. In fact, in Gilbert’s memoir, she even goes so far as to say that Anderson was “difficult to get along with.”

Little House on the Prairie
Melisssa Sue Anderson as Mary Ingalls Kendall, Lindsay or Sydney Greenbush as Carrie Ingalls, Melissa Gilbert as Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder | NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

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“From the start, for whatever reason, we never had a real sisterly kinship. She was a strikingly pretty girl, and I wasn’t, at least I didn’t think so,” Gilbert writes.

She continues, saying, “There was a distance to her, a coldness. Though sometimes I wonder if it was just that I never knew how to get her to let me in. She wasn’t easy to get along with,” she says of Anderson. “I think her reserve came across on-screen and was certainly apparent off-screen, whereas I wore my emotions as if they were a neon green T-shirt that glowed in the dark.”

Little House On The Prairie
Michael Landon, Melissa Sue Anderson, Jonathan Gilbert | FilmPublicityArchive/Getty Images

And when Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson) joined the cast later on, Gilbert gave her a rundown of all her fellow cast members and what they were like.

“Though she was my great rival on the show, Alison and I became instant friends from the moment I confided, ‘There’s only one mean person on the show,'” writes Gilbert. “Everyone else is great.”

Could she have been talking about Melissa Sue Anderson? Based on the information she’s given us, the chances are high.

Melissa Gilbert said she hated Melissa Sue Anderson and that she was ‘dangerous’

Little House on the Prairie
Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls, Melissa Sue Anderson as Mary Ingalls | NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

According to Arngrim’s memoir, Confessions of a Prairie B*tch, Gilbert was very blunt about her feelings regarding Anderson. As Arngrim describes it in her tell-all book, Gilbert said:

“And whatever you do, watch out for that Melissa Sue Anderson. She’s very dangerous. She’s evil, and I hate her.”

Arngrim couldn’t believe it. Was Gilbert serious? Anderson was just a little girl!

Gilbert continued, saying, “I hate her, and she hates me.”