‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon Only Sent Producers Melissa Gilbert’s Screen Test

by Clayton Edwards

Two actors truly embody the spirit of Little House on the Prairie. Micheal Landon was the face of the show during its original run. After all, it was his baby. He didn’t just play one of the leads. Landon pitched the show, he also wrote as well as directed several episodes. So, it was only right that he be the face of Little House. Then, Landon passed away in the summer of 1991. Since then, Melissa Gilbert has taken his place. It is as if he passed the Walnut Grove torch to her upon his death. Again, this is fitting.

Landon and Gilbert were father and daughter on Little House on the Prairie. However, that relationship didn’t end when the cameras stopped rolling. They were close. In fact, Melissa Gilbert looked up to Michael Landon like a father. Little House was Gilbert’s childhood. Landon and the rest of the cast and crew made it an enjoyable one.

It seems that their connection started almost immediately. Michael Landon knew he had his “Halfpint” when Melissa Gilbert first auditioned for the part on Little House on the Prairie.

Michael Landon Knew Melissa Gilbert was Right for Little House on the Prairie

How sure was Michael Landon that Melissa Gilbert was the perfect choice for the role of Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie? He was so sure that hers was the only screen test he sent to producers, according to IMDb.

Producers only saw Melissa Gilbert’s screen test for the part of Laura Ingalls. However, she was far from the only one who auditioned. Many young ladies came to try out for the Little House on the Prairie role. However, Landon somehow knew none of the others were a good fit.

Landon had a lot riding on the show. At the same time, it was, for all intents and purposes his show. So, he decided to take a gamble that Melissa Gilbert was the right fit for the Little House on the Prairie cast. In the end, Landon was right. Gilbert played the role of Laura perfectly. She and the rest of the cast helped to make the series one of the best-loved shows to ever hit the airwaves.

If you’re wondering what her screentest looked like, you can get a good idea from this video posted by the official Little House on the Prairie YouTube channel. In the video’s description, it says that this is one of her first interactions with Landon. The chemistry between them in this video is phenomenal.

The video and their chemistry in it helps to explain why Michael Landon felt so strongly about casting Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls.