7 Facts About The ‘Little House On The Prairie’ TV Series

New York Daily News

All About One Of TV’s Most Beloved Shows

Based on the Little House books series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Little House on the Prairie TV series is one of the most beloved television shows of all time. A two-hour pilot movie aired in March 1974 to kick off the series, and the show officially started its run in September of that year.

Little House on the Prairie lasted for a total of nine seasons, and aired its final episode in March 1983. After that many years, viewers got the chance to grow up with the actors who played some of the main characters, including Laura and her sisters, Mary, Carrie, and Grace.

Since the show was on the air for so long, it became a huge part of viewers’ lives. As a result, these viewers have shared the show with their children and grandchildren, creating a whole new generation of Little House on the Prairie fans.

Whether you’re a new fan of the Little House series or have watched it since day one, you likely know quite a bit about the show. But we there are some things about the series that you may be surprised to learn.

Go ahead and click on the button below to find out seven lesser-known facts about Little House on the Prairie!

1. It Was Almost Cancelled After Two Seasons

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When Little House on the Prairie made its debut, it was a huge hit with viewers. But believe it or not, the show was in danger of cancellation by the time it hit its second season!

In an attempt to save the show, NBC moved it from Wednesday nights to a new time slot on Monday nights. The move ended up saving the show, and the ratings improved in the third season.

But by the time the fourth season was coming to a close, NBC was contemplating canceling the the show again. However, the ratings held firm, and the show went on to have another season, and another, and another.

2. The Theme Song To Another Hit Show May Sound Familiar To You

Songwriter and composer David Rose was responsible for crafting the recognizable theme to Little House on the Prairie. Did you ever notice any similarities between the theme and another popular television series?

It turns out that Rose was also the one who wrote the theme song to the show Bonanza, which ended in 1973, just a year before Little House on the Prairie aired. If you listen closely to the two themes, you can tell that they do sound similar in some senses.

That isn’t the only connection that Bonanza shares with Little House on the Prairie. Michael Landon, who played Charles Ingalls in the show, also starred in Bonanza as the character Joseph “Little Joe” Cartwright.

3. Two Characters Had Their Own Theme Music

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You may not have noticed it before, but there are two characters in the series that had their own theme music. Those characters were Mary Ingalls and Adam Kendall, played by Melissa Sue Anderson and Linwood Boomer.

Adam’s character was introduced during season four of the series, and eventually married Mary. However, their romance was crafted purely for the show. The real-life Mary Ingalls never married, and Adam Kendall never existed. Bet you never knew that unless you read the books!

4. Three Actresses Shared The Same Name

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When Laura Ingalls was alive, it wasn’t an uncommon thing at all for several people to share the same first name. After all, her sister Carrie is named after her mother, Caroline.

But what are the chances that three people on the same television show would all share the same first name? Apparently those chances were high for the cast of Little House on the Prairie, because three of the actresses all had the same name. Not only that, but they all played members of the Ingalls family.

Those actresses were Melissa Gilbert (Laura), Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary), and Melissa Francis (Cassandra). It surely got confusing whenever someone was issuing orders on set!

5. Two Of The Actors Are Siblings

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Other than the Ingalls family, the other main family in Little House on the Prairie was the Olesons. The son, Willie, was played by actor Jonathan Gilbert, who shares a last name with the actress who played Laura.

If you never picked up on it before, Jonathan and Melissa Gilbert are siblings in real life. Jonathan is Melissa’s adopted younger brother, but unlike his sister, he has left the acting business behind. He is now stockbroker, while Melissa maintains an active career as an actress.

6. The Actresses Who Played Laura And Nellie Were Actually Good Friends In Real Life

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Who could ever forget the character Nellie Oleson Dalton on Little House on the Prairie? Nellie was not a real person in Laura Ingalls’ life, though she was based on several girls she knew as a child. The character of Nellie Oleson was created by Laura and appeared in three of her books.

It was a crafty move to add Nellie to the show, because she ended up becoming one of the most well-known characters. Early on, Nellie served as Laura’s main enemy, as her manipulative personality clashed with Laura’s calmer demeanor. Eventually, the two girls became friends, and Nellie tossed her bouquet to Laura at her wedding.

Although Nellie and Laura’s relationship was one of the main sources of conflict on the show, the actresses that played them were actually good friends. Melissa Gilbert (Laura) and Alison Arngrim (Nellie), kept themselves entertained on set by playing games together. How cute!

7. Michael Landon Could Make People Cry On Cue

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One of the most difficult parts of acting is being able to cry on cue. Even adult actors struggle with being able to do so at time, so imagine how hard it could be for a child actor.

Michael Landon (Charles), had the uncanny ability to get the child actors on the show to cry when the script called for them to. Melissa Gilbert (Laura), once described how he would make himself get all emotional before he came up to her and said “Do you know how much I love you?” Gilbert said that she’d instantly get emotional in response, and they were able to capture her reaction for the scene.

Just think about that the next time you watch an emotional scene on the show!

Which one of these seven facts surprised you the most? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!