The Little House on the Prairie warmed the hearts of the nation with both the book and TV series.

The show debuted in 1974 and despite it ending over 30 years ago, it’s still much loved to this day by a wide range of audiences.

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Whilst you may think you know everything about the TV drama, there are some behind the scenes secrets that the cast and producers tried to keep from fans.

Alison Arngrim’s Broken Arm Was Real In The ‘Bunny’ Scene

Alison had a real cast on in the episode after having a skateboarding accident in real life and breaking her wrist.

Heavy Beer Drinkers

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Both the camera and off-screen crew were known to get through two cases of Coors a day whilst filming.

Alison Arngim Almost Passed Out On Set

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The actress, who played Nellie Oleson, passed out on set once due to the extreme heat. The women wore 1800 style dresses and costumes including petticoats, bonnets and stockings. The temperatures would rise to as high as 100 at the California set causing Alison to faint.

Michael Landon Wasn’t Afraid To Show Off His Body

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Michael, or Charles Ingalls as we knew him on the show, was more than happy to do the shirtless scenes. He also reportedly used to wear no underwear under those extremely tight trousers.

Melissa Gilbert Was Only 15 Years-Old When She Had To Kiss Co-Star Dean Butler

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Melissa played the part of Laura Ingalls in the hit show who married Almanzo Wilder (Dean Butler) – but she was just 15-years old at the time. She was extremely nervous when it came to the kissing scene, with it only being her third ever kiss! After the scene she asked producers if the affection between the characters could be kept to mainly hugs and kisses on the cheek.

Alison Arngrim & Steve Tracy Would Make Out On Purpose To Gross Melissa Gilbert Out

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The young teen actress would hate seeing the older actors openly kiss on set, so the pair would do it, even more, to wind her up.

 Rachel And Sidney Bush Were Only 3-Years Old When They Played Carrie Ingalls

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The identical twins played the role of Carrie perfectly. Due to the law, the director had to swap the twins around every three hours to give them a rest, calling for a ‘fresh’ twin before scenes.

Carrie’s Fall In The Opening Credits Wasn’t Supposed To Happen

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The twin who played Carrie Ingalls trips and falls during the opening credits whilst running down a hill – but it was actually an accident. The director thought it shown the toddler in a cute light so kept it in.

The Food Was Dirty Moore Beef Stew

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In any of the scenes where the family is having dinner, the food was actually just dirty moore beef stew. For all but one occasion when Ma cooked fried chicken, which of course was KFC.

Melissa Gilbert Ended Her Friendship With Michael Landon After His Divorce

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The actress became close with Landon’s real-life wife and kids whilst filming the series. The actor’s affair with the make up artist became public, causing Melissa to distance herself from him and remain loyal to his wife.

Landon Wore Four Inch Lifts Inside His Boots

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The actor didn’t want anyone else to rise above him on set and wanted to appear taller. He can thank his special boots for the swagger he had on screen.

Nellie Oleson & Laura Ingalls Were BFFs

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They were enemies on-screen, but in real life actresses, Melissa and Alison were the best of friends and often had sleepovers.

Sean Penn Got His Breakthrough Role On The Show

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Penn was just 13-years old when he made his debut on the Little House on the Prairie. He appeared in the episode ‘The Voice of Tinker Jones’ being cast by his dad.

Landon Dyed His Hair For The Role

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Michael Landon took to the hair dye for his role as Charles. The actor went grey in his early 20s so starting dying it early on. He let the professionals step in and help with his hair colour in the Little House on the Prairie. It was said it would turn to a lavender colour after being in the California sun.

Michael Landon Asked Karen Grassle To Change Her Name

LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE -- "Pilot" -- Aired 03/30/1974 -- Pictured: (l-r) -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank

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When the actress auditioned, Landon asked Karen to change her name back to Karen Grassle. She was using her stage name Gabriel Tree at the time.

Melissa Sue Anderson’s Mom Was Overprotective On Set

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Melissa’s mother was worried about her whilst she was filming, causing the young actress to not really make any friends on set. She played the part of Mary Ingalls.

People Didn’t Believe Melissa Gilbert & Dean Butler Had Believable Chemistry

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Melissa’s awkwardness made the chemistry between the on-screen couple unbelievable with the stars often being told to make more effort.

Nellie Achieved Her Curls Through An Old Fashioned Curling Iron

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The old fashion curling irons were used to ‘torturously’ style Alison’s hair and give her character Nellie the curls she needed.

But They Soon Changed It To A Wig

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They wanted to give Alison the perfect curls so swapped the iron for a wig. This actually made the actress’s scalp bleed as it held on with metal combs and pins.

Karen Grassle as Caroline Ingalls

When Karen Grassle landed the role of mother Ingalls she had no idea that her role would stay with her throughout the entirety of the show. The gig was actually Karen’s first ever acting role, but whilst starring in Little House she also appeared in other programs such as an episode of Gunsmoke and comedy, Harry’s War.

The Simi Valley Ranch Set Was Contaminated With Radioactive Waste

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It was reported that the set at the Big Sky Ranch was used for people to dispose of radioactive materials – was this to blame for the high cancer rates in the cast and crew?

Karen Grassle as Caroline Ingalls

Since the show ended, Karen continued to act, and she still does to this day. She has appeared in several movies and TV shows since the end of Little House, including Hotel, Murder, She Wrote, and she starred alongside Kevin Costner in Wyatt Earp.

Alison Arngrim as Nellie Oleson

Alison became a well-known child star after appearing in Little House – however, before appearing on the show, she only had one acting credit to her name. Her character was a huge success and there was a backlash when she was removed in the seventh series. She then returned to the ninth and final series.

Alison Arngrim as Nellie Oleson

Since the show ended Alison has transitioned into the world of stand-up comedy. She regularly pokes fun at her role during her stints on stage. Not long ago she recorded a comedy album titled: “Heeere’s Amy”. Alison has also spent a lot of time working with charities as she was a survivor of childhood abuse and wants to help people out who are in similar situations to her. She is still good friends with her co-star Melissa Gilbert.

Dean Butler as Almanzo Wilder

Dean Butler was the shows resident heart-throb and played Laura’s husband-to-be. This was only Butler’s second acting job, but he stayed in the role for 65 episodes over three seasons. He also appeared on Fantasy Island and Here’s Boomer.

Dean Butler as Almanzo Wilder

Starring in the show led to huge things for Dean Butler. His most notable acting credit since Little House is his portrayal of Hank Summers, father of Buffy, in smash-hit cult fantasy show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Jason Bateman as James Ingalls

Jason Bateman’s career was rocket launched by the show. He played an orphan that was taken in by the Ingalls in season 7 and 8. Whilst he only appeared in a handful of shows, it still led to great things. He is the most successful actor to come out of the show.

Jason Bateman as James Ingalls

Since the end of the show Jason’s career has blossomed and is probably best known for playing the lead roll in Arrested Development. He has also branched out into the movie scene, starring in Horrible BossesTropic ThunderThe Gift, and Identity Thief. Today he is one of the most bankable names in Hollywood.

Kyle Richards as Alicia Edwards

Kyle Richards played Alicia Edwards in seasons two, three, six and eight which led to a huge career in the industry. During her stint on the show, Kyle also had a number of other roles in TV and film including The CarEaten Alive, and, most famously, Halloween.  When she finished the show at age 12, she had over 20 acting roles to her name.

Kyle Richards as Alicia Edwards

Since the end of the show, Kyle has found herself in a variety of different roles including a 21 episode stint on ER and 12 episodes of Down to Earth. More recently she has become better known for her role on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills which she has starred on since 2010.

Madeleine Stowe as Annie Crane

Madeleine Stowe had a one episode part on the show in season 7. She was one of the biggest names to appear on the show and she played a blind artist named Annie Crane who faced conflict when her birth mother wanted to make contact. Before appearing on the show she appeared in BarettaThe Nativity, and The Amazing Spider-Man.

Madeleine Stowe as Annie Crane

After her guest appearance on the show Madeleine went on to star in 12 Monkeys but more recently she had a major role in the TV drama Revenge.

Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls

Before starring in Little House Landon was known for his role in Bonanza. As well as being one of the shows heartthrobs, Landon also ended up writing, producing and directing some of the show – despite there being rumours that he was difficult to work with.

Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls

Sadly Michael passed away from pancreatic cancer in 1991 at the young age of 51. He left behind a huge legacy. In his final year of life, Michael appeared on the cover of Life Magazine talking about his life, his career and his battle with cancer. His headstone reads: “He seized life with joy. He gave to life generously. He leaves a legacy of love and laughter.”

Matthew Labyorteaux as Albert Ingalls

Matthew Labyorteaux’s breakthrough role was in Little House on the Prairie and unlike most of the character in Ingalls family, Albert Ingalls was not based on a real-life character from the semi-autobiographical Little House on the Prairie books. The character of Albert was created specifically for the show. He first appeared in the show in season 5 and Labyorteaux went on to play the character for the rest of the show’s run.

Matthew Labyorteaux Now

After Little House Matthew went on to make guest appearances in many shows including  Highway to Heaven. Matthew also has a collection of voice-over roles, including work on Disney’s Mulan. Matthew became the U.S. Pac-Man champion in 1982 with a score of 1,200,000.

Victor as Isaiah Edwards

Ted French began his career in show business as a stunt man, following in the footsteps of his father. Ted first appeared in a host of westerns, but later went on to be cast in his most well known role, Isaiah Edwards. He disappeared in the show to star as the police chief in the show Carter County. When that show ended, Michael Landon invited French back to Little House on the Prairie where he reprised his role from 1981 – 1984 and also directed some episodes.

Victor French as Isaiah Edwards

Sadly, a few short years after Little House ended the life-long smoker was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. He died just a few months after his diagnosis at age 54.

Leslie Landon as Etta Plum

Michael Landon had a difficult childhood and wanted to make sure his children had all of the opportunities that he hadn’t, so he took them on set. His daughter, Leslie, had a few guest appearances on the show between 1975 and 1981 before becoming a regular on the show – she played Etta Plumb, a school teacher. The other characters she played on the show were minor roles, including a plague victim in season one, Kate in season three, Marge in season six, and Pam in season eight.

Leslie Landon as Etta Plum

Despite being the daughter of an actor, Leslie did not go on to become an actress. After her role on  Little House she decided to focus on her education and obtained a BA in psychology and an MA in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University and a Ph.D in marriage and family therapy from the California Graduate Institute. She went on to get married and write a book called When Children Grieve: For Adults to Help Children Deal with Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving, and Other Losses.

Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls

Melissa Gilbert was granted the role of Laura aged just 9 and beat 500 other actresses to the part. She played the second daughter of the Ingalls and stole the hearts of viewers all over the world.

Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls

Melissa has continued to work since the show went off the air with roles in moves such as The Diary of Anne Frank and Heart of the Storm. She also appeared in TV shows including Nip/TuckBabylon 5, and Batman: The Animated Series. In more recent years she has turned her attention to the world of politics and the lifelong democrat ran for U.S Congress in Michigan and won her primary. However she later had to drop out due to health issues.

Jonathan Gilbert as Willie Olesen

Jonathan Gilbert played Willie Oleson, the son of Nels Oleson and Harriet Oleson and the sister of Laura Ingalls’ frenemy, Nellie Oleson. His first appearance in the show was when he was just seven and he went on to star in all nine seasons as well as appealing in the TV based movies.

Jonathan Gilbert as Willie Olesen

Despite starting so young, Jonathan did not continue his acting career after the show. He now works as a stockbroker.

Shannen Doherty as Jenny Wilder

It’s hard to believe that Shannen Doherty starred in Little House. She played Jenny Wilder in the ninth and final series of the show. Previously she had made appearances on The Phoenix and Voyagers. Doherty went on to play Jenny in the three subsequent TV movies.

Shannen Doherty as Jenny Wilder

After starring in Little House Shannen went on to cement herself as a teen idol when she appeared in Beverly Hills 90210 and Charmed. More recently Doherty made headlines after revealing her battle with breast cancer.

Melissa Sue Anderson as Mary Ingalls

Despite only being 12-years-old when she was granted the role of Mary Ingalls, Melissa Anderson was already a big name in the acting world. She had already appeared in Bewitched and The Brady Bunch, however, it was Little House that turned her into the household name that she became. After appearing on 163 episodes of the show, Melissa went on to secure roles in The Love Boat and The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour.

Melissa Sue Anderson as Mary Ingalls

Melissa was just 20 when the show ended, she went straight into prime time TV and her first movie called Happy Birthday to Me. In addition to the 57 acting accolades she has to her name, Melissa is a published author and in 2010, she released her own autobiography named “The Way I See It” – which talks heavily about her time on Little House.