October 16, 2021

Shannen Doherty Played in 'Little House on the Prairie' and Made a Co-Star Want to Punch Her

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Veteran actress and director Shannen Doherty rose to prominence with her unforgettable performance in the 1974 TV series "Little House on the Prairie." The TV star's popularity from the classic series also earned her an infamous foe. 

Shannen Doherty, 50, is equally known for her roles as Prue Halliwell on the 1998 TV series "Charmed" and as Jenny Wilder on the 1974 series "Little House on the Prairie." 

It was on this classic series that Doherty met her co-star Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls. While both talented stars appeared friends on-screen, they had issues between them in real life. 

Left: Shannen Doherty pictured in 1982 as Jenny Wilder in the TV series "Little House on the Prairie." Right: Melissa Gilbert during an appearance in the "Today" show in 2018. | Photo: Getty Images | youtube.com/TODAY

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A SHOCKING REVELATION 

The series ended in 1983 after nine seasons. Years later, Gilbert claimed in her 2010 book "Prairie Tale: A Memoir" that Doherty slept with her first husband. When questioned on her potential reaction upon crossing paths with Doherty, she said:

"I wouldn't say anything, I'd just punch her in the nose."

Gilbert tied the knot with her ex-husband Bo Brinkman from 1988 to 1994 and then with Bruce Boxleitner from 1995 to 2011. The actress, a mother of seven children, is now married to actor Timothy Busfield, with whom she tied the knot in 2013.

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Melissa Gilbert at the SiriusXM Studios on November 17, 2017 in New York City. | Photo: Getty Images

Gilbert shares her son Dakota with Brinkman, while she shares Michael, Sam, and Lee with Boxleitner. The 57-year-old actress is a happy stepmother to Busfield's three kids - Samuel, Daisy, and Wilson.

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Details around Doherty's alleged affair with Gilbert's then-husband remain unclear. However,  Alison Arngrim, who wrote a book in 2010 about both actresses' classic series, observed Doherty's behavior towards Gilbert.

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LIKE A SHADOW

According to Arngrim, Doherty looked up to Gilbert so much at that time. Gilbert shared similar observations, revealing in her book that her co-star would follow her like a shadow.

Gilbert also recounted multiple instances when Doherty would ask about her interests. She shared that her co-star wanted to know what makeup she wore, what jewelry she liked, and what brand of jeans she preferred. 

Gilbert wrote in her book that Doherty held her in high regard, although their age difference is not that significant. Meanwhile, Arngrim noted that Doherty seemed to try her best to impersonate Gilbert like a child.

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DOHERTY'S HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1971, Doherty grew up in a family that dutifully served the church and their community. The actress's religious family moved to Los Angeles to expand their business.

While Doherty has cemented her place in the industry, she also earned a "bad girl" reputation.

Shortly after her family settled in Los Angeles, Doherty began acting. Beginning with minor roles in 1982, she starred in an animated film called "The Secret of NIHM" and appeared as a guest on "Voyagers!"

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At ten years old, Doherty appeared in the 1981 drama series "Father Murphy," alongside late actor Michael Landon, who noticed her natural acting ability and on-screen charisma.

After Landon noticed her potential, Doherty, at 11 years old, landed her role as Jenny Wilder in the "Little House on the Prairie." Her career took off, and she gained more acting roles.

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DOHERTY'S CLAIM TO FAME

In 1990, Doherty appeared in the hit TV series "Beverly Hills, 90210," as Brenda Walsh, the role that catapulted her to stardom. She worked with actors Jason Priestley, Luke Perry, and Tori Spelling.

Eight years later, she appeared in another acclaimed series, "Charmed," where she portrayed Prue Halliwell, one of the show's iconic witches. In 2001, she left the show to pursue bigger opportunities.

Doherty pursued the other side of show business, such as producing and directing TV series. Under her belt, she has executive produced six episodes of the revived series "BH 90210" and directed "Charmed."

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'BAD GIRL' REPUTATION

While Doherty has cemented her place in the industry, she also earned a "bad girl" reputation. The actress struggled with writing bad checks, was involved in nightclub brawls, and partaking in clashes with co-stars.

In the fifth season of "Beverly Hills, 90210," she reportedly left the hit show amid the feud she had between her and the co-stars. Doherty was later labeled as "difficult" in Hollywood.

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SHORT-LIVED RELATIONSHIPS

The actress's strained work relationship seemed to have affected her love life. Doherty reportedly assaulted her ex-fiancé Dean Jay Factor, an heir of the renowned cosmetics company Max Factor.

In 1993, Factor reportedly filed a restraining order from Doherty and alleged that the TV star verbally assaulted him and threatened to shoot him. 

Besides a tragic romance with her then-fiancé, Doherty was also famous for having short-lived marriages. Months after her split from Factor, she married her ex-husband actor Ashley Hamilton.

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But Doherty divorced the "Gothic Harvest" actor in 1994. Eight years later, the "Heathers" actress remarried to poker player Rick Salomon but called it quits the following year.

Doherty had their marriage annulled only nine months after tying the knot. Salomon was quite a controversial man as he was infamous for his scandalous tape with Paris Hilton.

Salomon was known for having high-profile relationships. He was married twice to former Playboy model Pamela Anderson, from 2007 to 2008 and 2014 to 2015.

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NEW MARRIAGE, NEW CHALLENGES

After her failed marriages, Doherty took another chance at a long-lasting union in 2011, tying the knot with her new husband, film producer Kurt Iswarienko. But amid marital bliss, she has battled a serious health condition.

In 2015, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and struggled with surgeries and chemotherapy for two years. She had full remission in 2017, but in 2019, her cancer returned. She now has stage 4 cancer.

Amid her health battles, Doherty seems to have come to terms with her "bad girl" reputation. She said in a previous interview that she tried to change her reputation as she has become a different person. 

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GIVING BACK

Despite earning such a reputation, Doherty is no longer bound to it now. In addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, she has been active in supporting several social causes.

She has supported the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. She has also served as a spokesperson for other charitable groups, including Education Connection.

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