‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Melissa Gilbert Relates Her On-Screen Romance to Being ‘Thrown Into the Deep End’

by Katie Maloney
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Melissa Gilbert opened up about her first kiss ever on the set of Little House on the Prairie with a man who was eight years older than her.

Most people have their first kiss and then lock the experience away in the back of their minds in a hidden vault of embarrassing memories. And they never have to relive it or speak of it ever again. But that’s not the case for actress Melissa Gilbert. Her first kiss is immortalized in a season seven episode of Little House on the Prairie. Melissa starred on the show as Laura Ingalls and was 15 at the time her character met Almanzo Wilder, played by Dean Butler.

Laura and Almanzo would go on to have one of the most iconic romances on television. But before that could happen, they had to share their first kiss. This meant that Melissa was going to have her first kiss ever onscreen in front of all of her fellow castmates and crew. To make matters worse, Dean Butler was eight years older than Gilbert. Melissa detailed the experience in her book, Prairie Tale. But fans got to hear a first-hand account from Melissa during a recent interview.

“It’s like being thrown into the deep end without really knowing how to swim,” said Melissa.

Melissa Gilbert has her first kiss onscreen with Dean Butler.

Melissa Gilbert’s Mom Watched the Entire Kiss Just a Few Feet Away Off-Camera

At the time, Melissa said she was very much caught up in her own experience. However, when she thinks back to the moment now she feels bad for her kissing co-star Dean Butler.

“And now I look back and think, ‘Oh, poor Dean.’ A man who now has to tread this really fine line with doing a romantic relationship with a child, a 15-year-old kid. The ages were correct for the 1800s but not for the 1900s. And then I think about everybody else and having to acclimate and write that appropriately and figure out how to navigate that. ‘How are we going to get her to have a baby in a year.’ I didn’t even shave my legs at the time,” joked Melissa.

To make matters worse, Melissa’s mother decided that she had to be on set. So she watched the whole kiss from just a few feet away.

“Barbara is off-camera making noises while I am having my on-screen first kiss with an adult person. It just made the whole thing all the more…charming,” joked Gilbert.

During the same interview, Dean Butler said that he was cautious about how he depicted his character and the kiss.

“I didn’t talk to anyone on the set about it. A gentleman doesn’t speak of these things,” said Dean. “But as I watched that scene over the years, I thought, ‘Wow, I sort of had to get younger in my own state of being in order to make that less threatening for her and for the audience who did not want to have any sense that Laura was out of her element. Or beyond what she was capable of dealing with. So, it was a very fine line.”

Outsider.com