My worst moment: Melissa Gilbert and the dangers of being on the set of ‘La Petite Maison dans la Prairie’ with cowboys and their spittoons | Entertainment

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CHICAGO – Melissa Gilbert is in Chicago for the next two months, performing in the play “When Harry Met Rehab,” alongside former “Frasier” Dan Butler.

“It’s based, more or less, on the real life of Chicago sports radio personality Harry Teinowitz, who is one of the play’s writers,” Gilbert said. “I play the therapist who is also recovering and who is a former magician. It’s a comedy, even if it takes recovery issues seriously. But a dark sense of humor is important.

Gilbert was in Chicago earlier this year with her husband, actor and director Timothy Busfield (“Thirtysomething” and “The West Wing”), who was directing an episode of “Chicago Med.”

“So we were here, then instead of going back home to New York, we took a road trip to Texas to see the new little baby, and I got the call while I was there.” to ask if I would like to be a part of this. production. “Before heading back to Chicago, they stopped in Mansfield, Missouri, at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum.” I had never been to this one, I have been to all the others, and this It was fantastic. It was there that she and her husband Almanzo died and where they are buried.

Laura Ingalls, of course, is the character that made Gilbert famous as a child actor in “Little House on the Prairie”, and when asked about the worst moment of her career, she shared a memory of his time in the series.

“You have to know that there are a myriad of possibilities for my worst time because I had a 55 year career and spent most of it embarrassed (laughs), not on camera but off camera. voltage, of course.

“In fact, when I got into the car from the rehearsal of the play, I asked my husband, ‘What story should I tell? And I pulled out five and I said, “Which one, which one, which one?” So I’ll tell you Tim Busfield’s favorite. And this is the story of the “Little house on the prairie”.

“We were filming in Tucson, Arizona, at Old Tucson, which is an amusement park and old town in the West. They had some real legitimate rides you could do there. I think I was 14 at the time, and for the kids it was a lot of fun because between setups if we weren’t in school we could go to the gold mine haunted. They also had an ice cream shop where they served sarsaparilla and root beer floats. You can buy souvenirs. It was a fun place.

“It was probably five or six seasons, enough to make it really humiliating because, you know, hormones and changing bodies and I was the awkward, awkward girl trying to be really cool all the time. time with all the other kids we were working with.

“So we took a break. And all of us kids went for some root beer floats. And then we came back to where we were filming, which was in this old bar. It was a large western bar. The other thing you need to know is that there were a lot of cowboys on our set. They were stuntmen and wranglers, so a lot of people chewing tobacco. And there was a rule that forbade them to spit on the ground. So they handed out some red solo cups that the guys can spit in.

“We go back to this saloon where we shoot and get ready to rehearse a scene, and I put my root beer floating on a counter next to a bunch of other stuff and rehearse my scene.” And then I come back and take my root beer float and take a giant sip.

“It wasn’t a root beer float. It was one of the guy’s spittoons.

“And I just exploded and spat this stuff all over the place!” At first I stopped and thought, maybe I can swallow this and no one will know? But it was the most disgusting – I can’t even. It took me a second to realize it wasn’t root beer. Do you know how everything goes in a flash? And when I realized what it was and there was nothing else to do but pwaaaahhh and tears were streaming down my face. I’m so glad I didn’t throw up. I was screaming and jumping up and down, I couldn’t have done more scene.

“I ran out, I ran to my dressing room, I rinsed my mouth with water as best I could. I ran somewhere else and got some chewing gum. And no one followed me or said, “Are you okay?” They just assumed, oh, Half-Pint did something really weird and took off, she’ll be back right away. There was a bunch of other things going on and everyone was focused on another part of the room. Neither guy came running and said, “I’m so sorry. ” No. They were all working, so no one was really focused on me. And I’m so happy because it was almost like a cartoon, my reaction. So I was able to save face that way.

“And I remember getting out of my trailer and someone said to me, ‘Is everything okay? And I said, ‘Yeah, everything is fine!’ “

Was Gilbert able to concentrate for the rest of the day?

“Yes, nothing prevented me from going back to work. Also, I didn’t want anyone to know that anything had shaken me so much.

“There’s a tendency, especially on stage, to take a spit shower when you’re doing really hot scenes and people are yelling at each other and you’re physically close. This is normal for the course. Drinking water from a tobacco spitting cup is not. It was just bleeecchhh.

“I’ve never had another root beer float, however. I was traumatized. It was the worst thing ever. People might choke if they read this. It’s so mean.

“I don’t think I drank root beer again before the lockdown. At that moment I thought to myself, what is this? So it’s been 40 years.

“Look in the cup before you take a sip.

“I haven’t talked to Michael Landon about it. He probably would have announced it to everyone on set and it would have turned into a big joke, forgive the pun.

“But no, I didn’t tell anyone. I told the story to my husband and now I’m telling it to you – and to everyone who reads this column.

“Maybe, just maybe, there’s a shriveled old cowboy somewhere in Southern California who’ll see this and come over and say, ‘That was my cup. “”

Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.


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