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Melissa Gilbert resting before back surgery; 'Brokeback Ma' exchanges Twitter messages with 'Little House' rival

07/16/2010 by Corinne Heller

Melissa Gilbert resting before back surgery; 'Brokeback Ma' exchanges Twitter messages with 'Little House' rival Melissa Gilbert, who recently performed in the touring musical Little House on the Prairie with a broken back, is spending her time before her surgery next week resting, reading and exchanging public Twitter messages with Alison Arngrim, the actress who played her rival in the television series, Nellie Oleson.

"The 2 things i did today instead of going to work," Gilbert, 46, wrote under a photo she posted of herself looking inside Alison Arngrim's recently-released memoir, Confessions of a Prairie Bitch.

Gilbert is scheduled to undergo surgery on July 22. Doctors are scheduled to replace a disc as well as fuse a vertebra in her lower spine. This type of procedure has a recovery time of six months. Gilbert does not plan on returning to the stage.

"Until then. Home, still, rest, read, needlepoint and catch up on all the TV I missed while on the road," Gilbert Tweeted. "There is humor to be found. My hubby now calls me "Brokeback Ma"!

Gilbert, who released her own book, Prairie Tale: A Memoir, last year, played Laura "Half Pint" Ingalls in the television series Little House on the Prairie, which ran between 1974 and 1983, when she was a child and teenager. The family of Arngrim's character was wealthy and Oleson was routinely nasty and condescending to Ingalls and her family.

Gilbert portrayed her character's mother Caroline "Ma" Ingalls in the musical, which debuted in 2008 and ended its performances several weeks ago.

She and Arngrim, 48, have kept in touch since their Prairie days and message one another publicly on Twitter.

"Poor @MelissaEGilbert is flat on her back!" Arngrim joked on her Twitter page, regarding Gilbert's ailment. "And for once, not in a good way! Half Pint whacked her spine out doing the musical. Docs say they're gonna fix it right this time!"

Check out OnTheRedCarpet.com's recent interview with Alison Arngrim, who talks about her new memoir:

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