Little House on the Prairie introduced Almanzo as Laura’s love interest during season 6 of the show. Unfortunately, Melissa Gilbert found the intimate scenes uncomfortable because of their age difference. One of the stars of the show claimed that the show’s producers wanted the actors to “turn it up a bit” in terms of chemistry.
Melissa Gilbert was a lot younger than her romantic lead
Gilbert shared how worried she was upon meeting the actor she would share the screen with as their romantic story unfolded. He was almost 10 years older than her, as she described in her book Prairie Tale that he “was a grown-up man.”
“When we finally met I was hit by a perfect storm of disappointment, fear, anger, and nausea,” Gilbert wrote. “I can imagine what my face looked like. No, I don’t want to imagine. It couldn’t have been nice.”
“I looked at him as if he’d risen from Dr. Frankenstein’s lab. He was in his twenties. He shaved, drove a car, and lived in his own apartment,” she added.
There was reportedly a ‘secret memo’ about boosting their chemistry
In her book Confessions of a Prairie B*tch, Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie on Little House, claimed that the show wanted Gilbert and her co-star to kick up their chemistry.
Arngrim and Steve Tracy, who played Percival, had some kissing scenes together and the two often went all in. So much so that Gilbert found it “disgusting.”
“Melissa watched from the wings and was scandalized. ‘Stop that!’ she hissed at me between takes,” Arngrim recalled “’Stop what?’ I laughed. ‘Stop kissing him like that! You look like a fish! It’s disgusting! Close your mouth, for God’s sake!’”
“I couldn’t stop laughing,” the actor wrote. “’We’re supposed to be in love,’ I insisted. ‘And besides, I like kissing boys; it’s fun!’”
Arngrim said that Gilbert wouldn’t watch the scene where they kissed because “she was completely grossed out.”
The actor even said that, since she and Tracy had so much chemistry, it made Laura and Almanzo’s lack of spark even more obvious.
“Melissa wasn’t the only one who noticed our gusto,” Arngrim explained. “A couple of months in, Steve and I found out about a ‘secret memo’ discussing the various romantic couples on the show that was circulating among the producers. They were concerned that Laura and Almanzo didn’t really look ‘passionate’ enough.”
“Melissa and her husband, played by Dean Butler, were sweet together, but she looked so young, and he was so delicate with her, that it didn’t really generate what you would call sparks,” the actor recalled. “It only became really noticeable that these two were mismatched when the next scene showed me and Steve happily slobbering all over each other. ‘Can’t they turn it up a bit?’ the execs wanted to know. ‘Now, Nellie and Percival — those two look like they f*ck like crazed weasels!’”
Arngrim and Tracy thought it was hilarious, but since the memo was “top secret,” they had to keep it under wraps. “We really wanted to show up to work in T-shirts reading ‘Crazed Weasel 1’ and ‘Crazed Weasel 2,’ but we figured the producers would kill us,” she wrote.
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