‘Little House on the Prairie’: Why Alison Arngrim Often Fainted on Set

by Matthew Wilson

“Little House on the Prairie” star Alison Arngrim certainly sounded like she had a rough time on set. The young actor fainted often while filming. No, Arngrim didn’t have low sugar or any underlying medical conditions. The actor passed out on set from old-fashion heat exhaustion.

The actors often worked outside in the California heat. They filmed at the Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley, California where temperatures often reached over 100 degrees. At times, the heat proved to be too much for Arngrim, who was wearing a variety of clothing.

“I must admit, I was not a fan of Simi Valley. I much preferred the sound stage.  With all the kids on the show, we filmed a lot during the summer – (during the school year, we all had to have our California law mandated “three hours school” on set) – and in Simi Valley in the summer, temperatures often reach 110 degrees or more,” Arngrim told From the Desk.

Arngrim wasn’t the only one to faint during the heat. An assistant director also passed out once.

“Now put on an 1800s dress, a petticoat, etc.,  A WIG, (yes!) and go stand out in the middle of that all day!  NOT fun. I passed out from heatstroke more than once,” Arngrim continued.

Alison Arngrim on Being a Child Star

Of course, Arngrim did enjoy working outside in California as well. The sets often involved being out in nature and embracing its beauty. The actor enjoyed looking at the mountains and rivers and other natural wonders, even if it meant sometimes working on Saturdays. Also overall, Arngrim said she didn’t have it bad as a child star. Some young actors had it much worse.

“Child actors often work under less than ideal circumstances. It can be pretty bad.  Luckily for us, Little House was shot in California and Michael and our gang were sticklers for rules,’ Argrim said. She explained that child performers are usually exempt from child labor laws. It usually falls to state laws to protect them from exploitation.

“On the set of Little House it was by the book: four hours work, three hours school, one hour rest and recreation,” she said. “Plus one hour for lunch equals a nine-hour day.  We also had the HUGE advantage that Michael [Landon] and his crew had decided that ALL days would end at a reasonable hour so that everyone could go home and have dinner with their families.”