Were you a fan of the Little House on the Prairie TV show? Whether you watched the show during its original run from 1974 to 1983 or watched through reruns, all fans fell in love with Laura Ingalls and the rest of the Ingalls family (not to mention a few favorite foes like Nellie)! It turns out that behind the show’s idyllic scenes of settler life in the 1800s, plenty of interesting things were going on when the cameras stopped rolling. Read on to find out what happened to the show’s stars after Little House came to an end and learn what really went on behind the scenes.
1. Irritating Melissa
Despite that the storyline depicted Laura and Nellie to be rivals on the show, the two actresses were very good friends off-set. Later on, Nellie married Percival, who was portrayed by Steve Tracy. In real life, Steve was gay, but it didn’t matter.
The two actors loved to make out in front of Laura, who’s love life wasn’t nearly as passionate with Almanzo, just to irritate poor Melissa Gilbert. The two on-screen lovebirds made extra effort to make their kisses over the top, and did so only to agonize the young and innocent Gilbert.
2. Drugs and Alcohol on set
Many of the cast and crew members had some intense addictions, mostly involving substances like drugs and alcohol. Therefore, there was a lot of both on the set. Apparently, the crew managed to finish two cases of Coors beer every day. They even nicknamed the more stressful days, “three-case days” to justify numbing some of the stress that came about while shooting.
In particular, Michael Landon was quite fond of drinking, and Melissa Gilbert admitted in her autobiography that she had no idea just how much Landon was drinking. It turns out that he would spike his coffee or other soft drinks with vodka, and not many were fully aware of the extent to which he drank on-set, as well as off it.
3. Michael Landon was actually Jewish
Michael Landon may have spread a Christian message through his character on the show, but in real life, he identified as Jewish. His real name was Eugene Maurice Orowitz, which is pretty telling of his Jewish roots. The actor, however, apparently didn’t find this a conflict of interest.
Eugene grew up in New York, and although his mother, Peggy O’Neill, was Catholic, his father, Eli Maurice Orowitz was Jewish, and culturally, he took after his father. In general, he never devoted himself to any organized religion but did state that he believed in god, but it was only his cultural identity that was Jewish. How strange is that?
4. Landon wasn’t really a brunette
If you assumed that Landon was born with those luscious, brown curls, just be aware that you were wrong. He was actually a bottle brunette, but hey, that’s the beauty of dye jobs. The exact shade was a kind of ash brown.
Landon was so serious about his hair color, that he even went to a professional colorist to get the job done. Once his hair started to go gray, Landon’s dye job got a strange purple-green hue when lit by the bright sun. That’s when the show’s producers sought professional help for him.
5. The show dealt with some serious issues
Despite the fact that the show was generally a pretty light story, it definitely touched upon themes that were considered to be quite taboo and not very politically correct to bring up for the time period that the series aired.
Some of these topics were addiction, racism, prejudice and rape, among other serious topics. It is good, though, that these themes were brought up because no other show of its time offered to do something similar. It was and still is, considered groundbreaking.