“Little House on the Prairie” star Michael Landon may have been one of the creative forces behind the show. But he also knew how to have fun. While he acted as a father figure on set, the actor was also a bit of a prankster as well.
Landon loved his practical jokes and humor. Landon’s co-stars on the show were often the actor’s targets. Though sometimes, he targeted would-be fans as well. Some of Landon’s jokes involved wildlife like tarantulas, snakes, frogs, and other creepy crawlies. He enjoyed giving his co-workers a bit of a fright every now and then.
But he especially targeted actor Melissa Gilbert, who played his on-screen daughter Laura Ingalls. Whenever he acted as director, he would sometimes play a prank on Gilbert. One prank involved telling Gilbert to move farther and farther away from the camera. The young actor ended up almost a full football length away from the set. Then, Landon would eventually call her back to the set.
Michael Landon Recruited Melissa Gilbert For Pranks
But sometimes, Landon recruited his young co-star instead to prank people. Landon realized he was a sex symbol for many of his female audience. They would often come to the set to swoon over the actor, and that made them the perfect target for a prank. Landon got Gilbert to retrieve a frog from a nearby pond.
“We shot exteriors on a Simi Valley ranch about ninety minutes north of Paramount, and if the sun was out, Mike would, by late morning, strip off his shirt and work in just his pants, boots, and suspenders,” Gilbert wrote, according to Cheatsheet. “(In all fairness, it could be hellaciously hot in Simi Valley.) Well, women came out in droves to watch him work and to swoon, and he loved playing a certain prank on them.”
Landon and Gilbert enacted their prank in secret.
“I can still hear his surreptitious whisper, ‘Half Pint, go find me a little one,’” Gilbert wrote. “[He put the frog in his mouth and] walk over to where the women stood, say hello, and let the poor freaked-out frog jump out at them. As they gasped and shrieked, he flashed a naughty, self-satisfied grin that made him even more lovable.”
Of course, Gilbert was hardly a saint on-set either. Gilbert and Alison Arngrim would often team up to prank others on the show as well. They particularly loved saran wrapping the toilet seats in the set’s bathrooms