The TV show Little House on the Prairie reflected much of the story as it appeared in the books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. There was one thing, however, that star Melissa Gilbert hoped they would have done on the show that happened in the book, even though it was pretty gross.
Melissa Gilbert was the perfect Laura Ingalls
During a 2011 interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Gilbert shared the process for landing the role of Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie, saying it was just “the regular audition process” she went through.
“I went in and met Michael Landon … and I remember walking in the room, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow,’ I mean that’s what a star … he looked like a star,” she recalled. “And he was so at ease — at the same time, looking back, he was very tense too and focused. But really fun and funny.”
When he spoke to her, she remembered, he didn’t talk down to her since she was a little kid. Their conversation was more “like I was his contemporary working with him,” Gilbert noted.
When she did her screen test, Gilbert did one scene with Landon and felt an immediate connection. “I remember clear as anything, the two of us doing this scene and him looking at me with tears in his eyes and it instantly bringing me to tears. It was just so easy,” Gilbert explained.
He clearly felt the spark working with Gilbert as well because she said she discovered that he only wanted her for the role. “I found out later, many many years later that when it came time to take the screen test to the network he only took mine because he knew,” she shared. “He didn’t give them any other choices. He just said, ‘That’s Laura. That’s half-Pint.’”
Melissa Gilbert wished they got to do this gross activity from the book
The TV show Little House on the Prairie followed the Laura Ingalls Wilder books in terms of the major milestones, but there was one thing that Gilbert hoped they would get to act out from the books, but never did.
When asked “How closely did the Little House TV series reflect the storylines” from the books, Gilbert explained that “the major milestones in the books were definitely followed — the marriages, the deaths, the births, major characters.”
“But at some point, I think the producers had to use a little dramatic license and they brought in a lot of characters that didn’t really exist in the books or in the real story,” she continued.
“But the heart of what the books were about — family and community and love and truth and faith — was all still there,” she added.
As for what Gilbert wanted to have in the TV series from the books, she said had hoped they would play with a pig’s bladder!
“There was only one thing in the books that I really, really loved one passage, in particular about — we didn’t do this on the show — about the pig that they slaughtered and how the girls played catch with the pig’s bladder,” she explained. “Pa washed it out and then he blew it up with air and tied a knot in it and the girls played catch with it.”
“We didn’t actually get to do that,” the actor added. “I thought that was going to be really fun.”