‘Little House on the Prairie’: Melissa Gilbert Shared a Michael Landon Picture From an Iconic Moment

by Samantha Whidden

While participating in the weekly throwback Thursday trend, “Little House on the Prairie” star Melissa Gilbert took to her Instagram to share some snapshots of her late co-star, Michael Landon, from an iconic moment on the classic TV show set. 

“I’m working on a wee project and I’m going through all of my old [behind-the-scenes] photos on the ‘Little House’ set,” Melissa Gilbert explained. “There are so many!”

Melissa Gilbert then shared details about the behind-the-scene snapshot featuring Michael Landon. “The last one is a picture I took of Michael Landon on the very last day, standing in the rubble of what was Walnut Grove. Those years were some of the most important of my life. How lucky I am to have worked and shared life with that amazing cast and crew.”

Melissa Gilbert previously wrote about the destruction of the “Little House on the Prairie” set in her “Prairie Tale” memoir. “[Michael Landon] was furious that he had never received an official phone call from NBC president Brandon Tartikoff or anyone else at the network, letting him know the fate of the show. He had been on the network since 1959. Perceiving disrespect, Mike’s temper red-lined. He wanted to destroy all the sets – Walnut Grove, everything in Simi Valley.”

However, there was one building that Gilbert would not blow up, which was the church. “I guess Mike didn’t have the balls to blow up a church,” Melissa Gilbert wrote. “But chunks of its wall were missing as a result of shrapnel from the nearby Oleson’ Mercantile and Nellie’s Restaurant.”

Melissa Gilbert’s Co-Star Michael Landon Revealed the Behind-the-Scene Reason for Blowing Up the Set

In 1984, the New York Times reported that Melissa Gilbert’s co-star Michael Landon claimed that NBC leased the land that the “Little House on the Prairie” set was. The network allegedly promised to restore the land to its original state once the show was done. 

At the end of the series, it was revealed that the land development tycoon Nathan Lassiter had acquired the title to all the land in Hero Township. The residents then decided to destroy their property instead of letting Lassiter have it. 

“I think it makes for a good strong pioneer ending,” Landon stated in 1984. “It was also a nice catharsis for the cast and crew. There were lots of tears when we finally blew up the town. The actors had all become very attached to their own buildings, so it was very emotional.” 

Although there wasn’t much left of the “Little House on the Prairie” set after the series finale, the replica of the homestead of the show was completely lost in the 2003 Big Sky Movie Ranch in Simi Valley fire.