‘Little House on the Prairie’: Only One Actor Received an Emmy Nomination for the Show

by Evan Reier
(Photo by NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

It’s hard to believe that only one actor on Little House on the Prairie received an Emmy nomination, but it’s true.

It’d be hard to believe that only one actor won an Emmy, but just a single nomination? With a cast made up of Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, Melissa Sue Anderson and many more, it seems like a given that there would be a shower of golden trophies.

But that wasn’t so. In fact, it’s Anderson who received the sole nomination. Anderson’s nomination came in 1978, when she was up for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series. For context, that would’ve been based on her performance in Season 4 of the program.

Anderson deserved her nomination for her role as Mary Ingalls, the eldest Ingalls sister. But it does make one wonder about Michael Landon who played Charles Ingalls.

Landon was famous for being a perfectionist and competitive. He was famously told by his Bonanza co-stars to move on after he would draw out long conversations and analysis of scenes. He even got a potential co-star kicked off the show because he felt threatened by his looks and potential for screen time.

Would he have felt slighted for never being nominated for an Emmy for his work on Little House on the Prairie?

Michael Landon’s Success with Television

Don’t get his lack of individual Emmy wins on Little House on the Prairie confused with a lack of success. The actor and director seemed to know the artistic medium of television better than most anyone.

A drive to make a fantastic program coupled with a genuine love for the craft had Landon in demand. This is, in part, why he is the only actor to ever have three shows run for at least five seasons.

Between Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven, Landon had found immense success in three different decades. Highway to Heaven was the shortest-running show and even that crossed the five-season threshold.

Little House on the Prairie Won Other Emmys

While the individual efforts didn’t necessarily get the plaudits one might expect, the show did rack in a handful of awards.

These include:

  • (1978) Outstanding Cinematography in Entertainment Programming for a Series
  • (1979) Outstanding Cinematography for a Series
  • (1979) Outstanding Music Composition for a Series
  • (1982) Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series

Four Emmys isn’t a bad haul by any means, but it still seems low. However, the four wins came with a total of 16 nominations. It also took six prior nominations over three years to earn that elusive win.