‘Little House on the Prairie’ Actor Described Work on Show, ‘Surrogate Father’ Michael Landon as a ‘Fantasy’

by Will Shepard

Little House on the Prairie was one of the staple shows of the 1970s and early 80s. Melissa Gilbert got the role of Laura Ingalls when she was just ten years old. So, there were a lot of life lessons to be learned. Luckily, she was co-starring with Michael Landon.

The two stars of Little House on the Prairie formed a unique bond almost immediately. Landon became like a second father to Gilbert. Their relationship helped her through life. He taught her a lot of valuable lessons on and off-camera.

In an excerpt from her book, Prairie Tale, Gilbert described what her life was like. She talked about how long it took her to feel like an adult. Her life growing up was certainly much different than other people her age. She was one of the brightest stars on television while others her age were working their way through elementary school.

Gilbert talked about how she didn’t really figure out how to put her life together until she was much older. Regardless of whether or not that’s what it looked like from the outside, Gilbert didn’t feel ready for life.

The Star of “Little House on the Prairie” Wished She Actually Lived Laura Ingalls’ Life

Her relationship with Michael Landon was a massive upside of the show. The two Little House on the Prairie stars became important parts of each other’s lives.

As Gilbert describes in her book, she was incredibly lucky to call Michael Landon a friend. “For me, work was a fantasy where I was a happy-go-lucky kid with a larger-than-life surrogate father in Michael Landon.”

The co-star of Little House on the Prairie continued to describe his and the show’s impact on her.

“There were people I could talk to and count on, and horses and cows and other animals I could play within an idyllic outdoor setting.” Gilbert recounted her early years away from the show, “In real life, I struggled with the mythology of my existence — the story of my birth grew from the fairy dust my mother sprinkled on the truth, whatever that was.”

Landon helped her with a lot of things in life. He helped her confidence, allowed her to be herself. But there was always a part of her that wished she could live as Laura Ingalls. Gilbert, as did many other women, wished that the way she played her Little House on the Prairie character was their life.