‘Little House on the Prairie’: Melissa Gilbert Sensed Michael Landon Would Die Soon

by Keeli Parkey

While playing father and daughter on “Little House on the Prairie,” Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert became very close. He played patriarch Charles Ingalls on the classic television show. Gilbert played one of his daughters, Laura Ingalls.

“Little House on the Prairie” aired for nine seasons on NBC from 1974 to 1983. Eight years after the show ended, Landon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. According to an article on CheatSheet.com, following his diagnosis in 1991, Gilbert believed that her television father would pass away fairly quickly.

After he was diagnosed, Landon said he planned to battle cancer and try to survive. He even brought members of the media into his residence to share the news. Landon also stopped by “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” around the same time. He was there to talk about what he had previously shared with the media, according to the article.

It was during this appearance that Gilbert really noticed that Landon was feeling worse than he let on. She has reportedly said that she knew his health was failing. Gilbert also said, according to the article, that she knew the “Little House on the Prairie” patriarch would die. The actress also reportedly believes that he knew that as well.

Gilbert shared her thoughts about Landon and his diagnosis in her book, “Prairie Tale.”

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Actress Wanted to See Michael Landon Before He Died

Knowing that her “Little House on the Prairie” father was ill, Melissa Gilbert decided she wanted to spend time with Michael Landon before he passed, according to CheatSheet.com. However, at first, she was hesitant to make the visit, despite her desire to see him. Gilbert reportedly didn’t know how seeing Landon in a weakened state would make her feel.

“A couple days later, I was inventing excuses why I couldn’t see him,” Gilbert wrote in her book, according to the article. “I was scared. I didn’t know what to say, what not to say, or how to say goodbye to this person who had played one of the most pivotal roles in my life.”

Gilbert and Landon did get together after his diagnosis, according to reports.

Michael Landon Talks About How He Joined Classic Television Show

During an interview with Bobbie Wygant in 1974, Michael Landon talked about how he came to be part of “Little House on the Prairie.” One factor in the actor’s decision to be part of the show was his family.

“… when this came along it was fresh for me because it was honest and it was simple and it was very basic. And, I liked the people,” Landon said. “I thought the people were nice and I kind of felt my family would like to watch that. I got a lot of kids and it’s kind of fun to think you’re going to do a show that you would be happy to sit in the living room with the whole family and watch.”