‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon and Victor French Spent ‘More Time Together Than a Married Couple’

by Emily Morgan

There’s no doubt that the late Michael Landon bonded with several of his cast members during his time on “Little House on the Prairie.” However, one person with whom Landon shared a special bond was fellow actor Victor French. As it turns out, their friendship started long before the classic TV shot and lasted long after they stopped filming.

Landon’s fans will know that he got his start in acting thanks to his role as Joe Cartwright in “Bonanza.” In addition, French was also in “Bonanza” five different times. During his time on the show, he played multiple characters. During the ’60s and ’70s, both actors formed a bond that would be unbreakable.

After “Bonanza,” French and Landon starred alongside one another in “Little House on the Prairie” and “Highway to Heaven.” In the latter, Landon acted as both a cast member and producer.

During pre-production of “Highway to Heaven,” Landon cast his pal as the co-lead in the show. NBC originally wanted a younger actor to play the character at the time. However, Landon fought to have his friend take on the role of ex-cop Mark Gordon.

In addition, French once discussed the pair’s relationship in an interview. French opened up about his long professional partnership with Landon. He also joked that he and Landon “spend more time together than a married couple.”

‘Little House on the Prairie’ stars share the same tragic fate

French and Landon had mutual respect for one another, both on and off the screen. However, like many buddies, they tended to pull pranks on one another while working.

Dean Butler, who played Almanzo James Wilder on “Little House on the Prairie,” once revealed that Landon only allowed specific people in his inner circle to play practical jokes, and French was one of them.

In a video of bloopers and outtakes from “Highway to Heaven,” viewers can see Landon and French having a ball together while on set. There are a few moments where both actors struggle to keep a straight face while trying to film a scene.

There is another clip of French trying to get into character; however, he’s uncontrollably laughing. You can hear Landon laughing from behind the camera if you listen closely.

In addition, both men directed episodes of “Highway to Heaven” and “Little House on the Prairie,” giving them more creative control. This could’ve led to more freedom to joke around on set.

Sadly, both Landon and French tragically passed away at just 54. French died in 1989 from lung cancer. Just two years later, in 1991, Landon passed away from the same illness. He died of liver and pancreatic cancer at just 54. Although the two actors died too soon, their performances will forever live on, and fans will never forget their friendship.