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Little House on the Prairie actor reveals anxiety over age-gap kiss

Little House on the Prairie actor reveals anxiety over age-gap kiss

Dean Butler has revealed his “anxiety” about sharing a kiss with his co-star when she was 15 and he was 23.

The 67-year-old actor kissed Melissa Gilbert on classic series Little House on the Prairie – and believes their eight-year age gap negatively impacted their performance.

Reflecting on the scene, Butler said in a new interview: “I think that there was anxiety on both sides of that kiss and how is this going to go? But we stepped up to it.”

The actors starred as Almanzo and Laura on the hit NBC show from 1979 to 1983, with their characters having a 10-year age gap.

Butler wished they “could have been a little closer in age” during filming, “but that’s not the way it really happened.”

They shared their first kiss in season six, episode 22 – “Sweet Sixteen” – after growing closer when Almanzo drives Laura to an out-of-town teaching job.

He called the characters’ romance “beautiful, heartfelt and simple”, and praised Gilbert for her performance given “how little life experience she had” at the time.

In the following episode, Butler’s character proposes, but Laura declines due to her father’s wish that she wait until she is 18 to marry. However, they eventually marry and have children.

Dean Butler and Melissa Gilbert starred as Almanzo and Laura (Getty Images)
Dean Butler and Melissa Gilbert starred as Almanzo and Laura (Getty Images)

Speaking to People at a 50th anniversary event for the show, the actor explained: “From the perspective of playing it, I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could have [had] … a little more common ground, so we would’ve been able to play the loving side of this in perhaps a little bit more interesting way.”

The critically acclaimed series received 16 Emmy nominations, and three Golden Globe nods. It was based on the children’s novels by Laura Ingalls Wilder, set in Minnesota.

The series is still popular with audiences today, and Gilbert believes it is because “it’s a reflection of all the things that people crave in life: family, community, love, faith and hope.”

“It’s all the good juicy things that make human beings so wonderful and different from animals. I mean, that connection. And Little House is a reminder of that.”

Gilbert played Laura in all nine seasons of the show (Getty Images)
Gilbert played Laura in all nine seasons of the show (Getty Images)

The show also dealt with some hard-hitting topics, such as the recession, equal rights for women, and antisemitism.

Gilbert added: “We dealt with all of that, but we didn’t do it in an exploitative way.”