‘Little House on the Prairie’: Why Melissa Gilbert Said Fans Tried to ‘Protect’ Her From Alison Arngrim

by Taylor Cunningham

It seems that Little House on the Prairie fans had a hard time understanding that the on-screen classic TV relationship between Melissa Gilbert and Alison Arngrim was in fact fictional.

In the series, Gilbert’s Laura and Arngrim’s Nellie were constantly at odds. The wealthy Nellie was accustomed to getting everything that her heart desired, and it turned her into a cruel bully. And for some reason, she focused all of her mean-spirited efforts on the sweet and wholesome Laura.

In many episodes, Nellie would try her best to sabotage Laura’s life, but the cunning Wilder would always come out on top. And because of the troublesome scripted relationship, Little House fans were constantly trying to protect the real-life Gilbert from her faux nemesis.

But in reality, Melissa Gilbert and Alison Arngrim were the best of friends. And that friendship has lasted through the decades.

As Gilbert once shared with Fox News, the girls were fast companions and had many “slumber parties,” and visited “each other’s houses on weekends.”

“People couldn’t believe it,” she said, noting that fans couldn’t see past their Little Prairie personas.

“The two of us would go places together,” Gilbert shared during a separate interview with Entertainment Weekly. “And people would try to protect me from her. Even when I was ten, I’d want to say, ‘Come on, it’s a TV show.'”

While there have been many stories of worried fans, Arngrim recalls one of the earliest incidences happening while grocery shopping.

“I remember we were 13 and at a supermarket together,” she said. “She went over to one aisle to look for something and people recognized us. And they suddenly felt compelled to protect her from me, like I was coming for her. People were just freaked out that we were friends and would go to places together. We still do.”

“Little House on the Prairie’ Fans Expected Melissa Gilbert to be Best Friends with Melissa Sue Anderson

Instead, Little House on the Prairie “Bonnetheads” expected Melissa Gilbert to be close with Melissa Sue Anderson, who played Laura’s sister, Mary. Because on the show, they seemed to have great chemistry. But in 2010, Gilbert admitted that she never connected with the other Melissa.

“I honestly do not have a lot of memories of the two of us,” she said. “We were very, very different.”

In fact, Anderson used to disapprove of Gilbert and Arngrim’s “zany” antics. And it caused a rift between the three girls.

“[She] looked at us like we were total juvenile delinquents,” Gilbert revealed during a cast reunion. ” I think she thought we would get her in trouble if she hung out with us, which is perfect for her character because Mary was such a little narc.”

And as for Melissa Gilbert and Alison Arngrim, they still consider each other “family,” which is something that people still have a hard time understanding.