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‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Alison Arngrim Dishes on ‘Mortal Enemy’ Melissa Gilbert

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Alison Arngrim and Melissa Gilbert might have played mortal enemies on Little House on the Prairie, but that couldn’t have been any further from the truth in real life.

The actresses came back together for the show’s 50th Anniversary Cast Reunion and Festival in Simi Valley, California, on Saturday, March 23, and Arngrim spoke to People about their relationship on and off-screen.

“Here’s Melissa Gilbert and I playing mortal enemies, beating each other senseless all week,” Arngrim said. “And then on the weekends, we’d go to each other’s house for a slumber party and we were hanging out.”

Gilbert played the lead, Laura Ingalls, in the beloved series, while Arngrim starred as schoolyard bully, Nellie Oleson. On-screen, the pair often clashed in arguments and even physical fights.

But when the cameras weren’t rolling, Arngrim said she and Gilbert were “like sisters” and even choreographed their fight scenes together. “It’s so completely bonkers,” she joked.

Arngrim referenced a photo of her and Gilbert posing together on the set of a Christmas episode in which their characters fight. She revealed how fans are often surprised that the two of them are smiling in the picture.

“People say, ‘It’s little Nellie and Laura, but you’re smiling. The two of you don’t smile at each other in that episode,’” she recalled. “I’m like, ‘This was us for real.’”

Melissa Gilbert and Alison Arngrim in Little House

Melissa Gilbert and Alison Arngrim on Little House in the Prairie; The Everett Collection

While Arngrim and Gilbert could separate real life from fiction, some viewers could not. “People hated me. They hated me, hated me,” Arngrim said, referencing how her character became an iconic villain.

She also recalled a time someone threw a cup of orange soda in her face while at a Christmas parade. “I was a moving target and they hit me. So I’m kind of impressed,” she joked. “But what struck me about it, and all the times that people attack me, I was like, ‘What am I doing that they are so convinced this is real, that they’re just losing it?’ ”

Arngrim and Gilbert reunited with fellow Little House cast member Karen Grassle at Saturday’s event. Last week, the three ladies sat down with Good Morning America to speak about the hit show, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this September.

“It’s overwhelming, actually,” Gilbert said of being back on set. “I’m remembering so much and so much of my childhood and so many wonderful experiences and emotional experiences attached to all of these people.”

Arngrim added, “When we did the show, we went, ‘Yeah, this is a really good show, Oh, it seems to be a hit, that’s nice.’ But the idea that 50 years later, people would still be excited about it, it’s absolutely mind-blowing.”

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