‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon Tells Johnny Carson Hilarious Story About His Epic Fails as Handyman in 1974 Interview

by Katie Maloney
Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank

You can’t always be as handy as the characters you play on TV. At least, that was the case for Little House on the Prairie star, Michael Landon.

Acting superstar Michael Landon played Charles Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie for nine seasons. During his time on set, he plowed the fields, tinkered with tools, and fixed things around the house. But real-life Michael Landon was far from the handyman he played on television. In fact, Michael kind of destroyed anything he tried to fix both in and out of his house. During an interview with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in 1974, Michael described all the things he “fixed” around his home.

“The first house I ever bought was too expensive for me. I told my business manager, ‘I am going to do the yard. Don’t worry about a gardner.’ It was a 1 1/2 acre dune. So I went out and bought a rototiller, that turned out to be seven feet long, with a big motor. I set this thing for 18 inches down, to dig it all up. And while I’m doing it I’m thinking, ‘These construction workers, they don’t care about anything. They just leave pipe here, they throw pipe there. They make a mess.’ I’m throwing pipe over the hill. Three and a half hours, I’m throwing pipe over the hill…it was my pipe,” said Landon while laughing.

Michael Landon talks about handy work with Johnny Carson.

Michael Landon May Not Be As Handy As His Character On Little House On The Prairie

Michael quickly realized that he should probably leave the landscaping projects to the professionals. So, he tried his hand at indoor work. As he continued talking with Johnny Carson, Michael described the series of handy work he did around his house the previous weekend. First, he decided to clean the ovens. He and his family have four ovens. So he turned on the automatic cleaner button for each oven and sat back to drink his coffee. What he did not do was put the shield up for each of the ovens. So, as he was drinking his coffee, the glass on all four doors of the ovens shattered.

“It’s like four television sets exploding, right in your face,” said Landon. “But my wife isn’t up yet so I’m not in trouble.”

Then, Landon decided to try his luck in the dining room. He grabbed a ladder and started cleaning the chandelier that hung above the family’s dining room table.

“I start to clean each candle at a time and I’m thinking, ‘Dynamite, this looks incredible.’ So I keep turning it. I do another candle. Turn it, do another candle, turn it. I swear to you on my life, I unscrew it right out of the ceiling. I now have the most incredible lazy susan sunk into my dining room table,” said Landon.