‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon Restricted His Children’s TV Habits Despite Stardom

by Joe Rutland

Michael Landon happened to be famous through television. But the “Little House on the Prairie” star restricted his children’s TV viewing.

Why would Landon, who made a very good living through playing on successful TV series, do such a thing?

Well, Landon answers this question from ABC’s Barbara Walters, who interviewed the star of “Bonanza” and “Little House on the Prairie.”

“My main reason is not because I dislike television in terms of my children,” he said. “But I want my children to learn to read. I want my children to not grow up passively, sitting and staring at a set all the time. I want them to be doers.”

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Wanted His Children To Learn To Read

“I think there’s an awful lot of good children’s television programs,” Landon said. “And there are occasions where I will allow them to watch. If there’s an educational show or a show that’s recommended by the school for a specific classroom subject. Certain documentaries that I think would be of interest to them.”

Landon came from a pretty rough childhood himself, spending a lot of time alone. He also was quite worried about his mother’s continuous suicide attempts. It brought large amounts of stress into his life.

So Landon probably didn’t want the same type of life for his children. His death in 1991 from cancer sadly put an end to a career of a man who learned all aspects of putting together a television show. Besides “Bonanza” and “Little House on the Prairie,” Landon had another hit series for NBC called “Highway to Heaven.”

Landon Recalls Being Impressed By Script For NBC Family Drama

When it came to “Little House on the Prairie,” its script took Landon’s heart. He had a deep interest in working on a wholesome series. Landon also had children and he wanted them to see a solid, decent show.

“Little House on the Prairie” appealed to Landon because it was about a family and children growing up. It taught the values and meanings of life.

“When this came along, it was fresh for me because it was honest and it was simple and it was very basic,” Landon told Walters. “I liked the people. I thought the people were very nice (and) I kind of felt my family would like to watch it.

“It’s kind of fun to think you’re going to do a show you would be happy to sit in the living room with the whole family and watch,” he said.

Landon would play Charles Ingalls for eight seasons on the NBC family drama. He gave people a reason to tune in with their own families, too, and watch wholesome programming.