“Little House on the Prairie” star Melissa Gilbert remembers her late co-star Michael Landon not for his shortcomings but for his loving attitude and his wicked sense of humor.
“He was a really extraordinary guy,” Gilbert said in an interview on the “Sway in the Morning” show. “He was just all about love. That’s all it was for him and it was about teaching the audience, and showing the audience, the things that were most important – family, community, the environment, helping one another, loving one another, that’s what it was about for him. And that’s what he was like.”
“He was also wicked funny,” Gilbert added. “Wicked funny. I learned some very inappropriate jokes at kind of maybe a little too young an age. And then when I got older, he taught them all to me.”
Watch Gilbert talk about Landon here:
‘Little House on the Prairie’ Stars Reportedly Had a Falling Out
Gilbert’s father Paul died during Gilbert’s tenure on “Little House on the Prairie,” and for a time, Landon became a surrogate father figure to Gilbert. However, according to Biography.com, the two later quarreled, and they didn’t speak to each other from the last episode of the show until 1991.
Still, Gilbert seems to remember the good times more than the falling out.
“Our relationship was very close, and it grew even deeper when my father passed away. Our families got close. We went on vacation to Hawaii together every Easter. His son Mike Jr. was my prom date,” Gilbert told ABC News in 2014.
And Gilbert said the two-hour show finale in 1984, “Little House: The Last Farewell,” brought her closure, but also a lot of tears. It would be nearly a decade before she’d speak to Landon after that.
“Saying goodbye wasn’t easy. The cast and crew were family. I still weep whenever I watch it,” she added.
Landon’s Sense of Humor Was on Display in His Relationship With Johnny Carson
Over the course of his career, Landon made multiple appearances on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” And in a May 9, 1991 episode of Carson’s show, Carson also spoke to the “Little House on the Prairie” star’s sense of humor.
“This man has an odd sense of humor,” Carson began. “Really off-the-wall. I’m gonna give you a quick story to show what he did to me one night.”
A year earlier, Carson and Landon had eaten dinner together at a very nice restaurant in Malibu. They went their separate ways after dinner, and as Carson was backing out of the parking lot, he thought he heard a noise.
The next day, he got a call from Landon. The actor somberly informed Carson that when he backed out of the parking lot, he had killed the restaurant owner’s cat, who liked to hang around outside the restaurant.
A month later, Landon suggested they go back to that restaurant for dinner. Carson hemmed and hawed; he worried the restaurant owner would be mad at him. But Landon insisted.
By then Carson began to suspect that something was up and that the cat was, in fact, alive. So he called the restaurant owner and asked if he could get one of those large trays with the big spherical covers. And Carson brought with him a toy cat. He couldn’t wait to spring it on Landon after dinner.
So they got to the restaurant and, once seated, accepted their menus from the waiter. Carson began to scan the menu. He skimmed right over one questionable item on the list: “Tureen of Tabby.” But then he looked at the next page. And there he found two more menu items showcasing cats.
It turned out Landon had had a special menu made up, with calligraphic lettering and everything, to spring on Carson at the restaurant. It was a much more elaborate prank than what Carson had planned.
“You one-upped me,” Carson told Landon, who could only laugh.