Watch as “Little House on the Prairie” icon Michael Landon spills his history with the show in full to Barbara Walters as part of “Interviews of a Lifetime.”
Many years before his untimely death in 1991, and few after his time on “Bonanza” as Little Joe came to an end, Michael Landon was offered many projects that “didn’t appeal” to him. “The usual detective shows, medical dramas… Man from another planet,” he details to Barbara Walters amidst his heyday.
Yet all of that was about to change. While writing a pilot of his own, the icon, already a household name, received word of a little project called “Little House on the Prairie.”
“I read the screenplay, and I brought the books home,” he tells Walters of the beginning stages. If not for his daughter, however, Landon may never have taken the role that would define his entire career.
“My daughter read the books, Leslie,” he continues. “She said ‘you should do a show like that!’ And I think it was probably Leslie more than anybody that had to do with my [taking on] the show.”
‘Did you worry about being a ‘daddy?’
As for his character’s patriarchal status on “Little House on the Prairie,” Walters asks the icon next if he “worried about playing a ‘daddy” like Charles Ingalls. She weighs this against the “sex symbol” appeal of his other possible choices: successful doctors, detectives, and the like.
“No, never. I am a daddy!” Landon laughs in reply.
“Not all daddies want to play daddies!” Walters smiles.
“Well I do. I think it’s great,” the icon chuckles. “I have a lot of fun. And I love kids, and I love the kids on the show. They’re fun to work with.”
“It’s a good show for me,” he says outright of “Little House on the Prairie.” And lifelong fans of both Michael Landon and the Ingalls couldn’t agree more.
‘Little House on the Prairie’
An icon of this realm himself, Landon had previously stated his reluctance to let his own children watch television. Speaking to his daughter influencing his decision to come onboard “Prairie, Barbara Walters becomes curious of Landon’s view on children’s television of the time – and how he kept his work world separate from them.
“I think there’s an awful lot of good children’s television programs,” he offers within. “And there are occasions when I will allow [my children] to watch. If there’s an educational show, or a show that’s recommended by the school.”
“My main reason is not that I dislike television,” he smiles to Walters, “But I want my children to learn how to read. I want my children to not grow up passively, sitting there staring at a set all the time.”