‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Melissa Gilbert Once Explained How TV Series ‘Strayed Pretty Far’ From the Books

by Shelby Scott
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We may be decades beyond the conclusion of the classic TV drama “Little House on the Prairie,” however, it remains a favorite today. Part of what contributes to the series’ ongoing popularity relates to its roots in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Now, series star Melissa Gilbert navigates life in her own cabin in the woods. But recently, she revealed that NBC’s “Little House on the Prairie” actually “strayed pretty far” from the events of the books.

During an interview with Parade, the actress revealed the differences between the “Little House on the Prairie” books and television series. Across nine seasons, the cast managed to convey captivating tales about life in the American Midwest in the 19th century. But Gilbert said much of the narrative doesn’t exactly line up with Wilder’s novels.

“We strayed pretty far from the truth of the books, which also strayed far from the truth of the actual experience,” Gilbert admitted. She explained, “we had to create this whole world that television shows have a tendency to do.”

Melissa Gilbert Reveals One Major ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Non-Reality

One major narrative producers added to the series was, basically, Laura’s sister Mary’s entire storyline. Laura Ingalls Wilder really did have a sister named Mary. However, Melissa Gilbert revealed all the tragedies the Mary character underwent never actually happened. Writers simply took “dramatic license.”

“[Mary’s] life was limited when she went blind in reality,” the “Little House on the Prairie” star said. However, “unlike the series, she never got married. Her baby never died in a fire. The husband that she never had never regained his sight and caused friction in the marriage.”

Gilbert concluded, “all of that was made up from whole cloth. Mary was never married.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder Actress Remains Invested in Her Character’s Story

That said, the added events of the television series saw Melissa Gilbert become thoroughly invested in the history of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie.”

“I got to revisit the stories when I did the musical version of ‘Little House on the Prairie,'” she said.

The star continued, “I got to go back to the books and the subsequent books that had come out about all of them to see the whole experience through a new set of eyes. So that was really fascinating for me.”

Gilbert may have embodied Laura Ingalls Wilder for nine successful seasons. Although even still, Melissa Gilbert continues to study and learn the realities of the historical figure and her experiences. The “Little House on the Prairie” novels surely remain the author’s most popular collection. Gilbert concluded, “Every time a Laura book comes out, I buy it and read it and try to learn even more what was going on.”

Outsider.com