Perhaps one of the most infamous scenes on Little House on the Prairie is the scene where Laura pushes Nasty Nellie down a hill and into a lake while Nellie is faking an injury.
The iconic “wheelchair scene” is one of the many that made Nellie actress Allison Arngrim infamous for her character. Michael Landon, Charles Ingalls actor, and producer of the show, teased Arngrim right before the scene.
Landon was known for his antics on set. In spite of the fact that he ran a pretty tight ship, he was also a total jokester, constantly pulling pranks and joking around with the kids.
In a 2013 interview with Tom Gregory, Arngrim gave some hilarious behind the scenes insight into the scene.
There Wasn’t Much Safety for the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Scene
“There’s no seatbelt for safety. I’m in this chair. They did have a stunt girl do the part when she goes downhill and flies out of the chair. I didn’t have to do that,” Arngrim said about filming the Little House on the Prairie scene.
“They put me on the chair on this hill and they did roll me down this hill,” Arngrim said. “I’m like bouncing around hitting rocks and there’s no helmet, no seatbelt, I’m screaming my head off because I’m gonna fly out of this thing and break my neck,” she laughed. No way would that fly today, but Hollywood in the 70s was a very different scene for safety on set.
While Nellie was faking her injuries on Little House on the Prairie, Arngrim did have a real-life broken arm while filming the scene as well.
“I had a real broken arm,” she said, “I had fallen off my skateboard the week earlier. Producers were not happy about it.”
But the hill was just the start of the hilarious scene. Nellie also had to fall in some very dirty pond water. That’s where Landon came in. According to Arngrim, Landon asked her, “Do you have a swimming pool at home?” Arngrim said she didn’t.
“Well,” Landon said, “After this, you can swim in your toilet.”
Arngrim was one of the many kids on set who had a lot of positive experiences with Landon. While life on set wasn’t perfect, Landon often did what he could to make the kids laugh, even when they had to film difficult scenes.
Arngrim now works in comedy, performing one-woman shows and stand-up routines. A lot of her stand-up has to do with life on set of Little House on The Prairie and the strange and difficult adjustment period after it was all over.