Michael Landon played the beloved father figure, Charles Ingalls, on the classic TV show “Little House on the Prairie.”
On the show he was dependable and lovable and played an overall huge role in the family dynamic. What was Landon like behind-the-scenes of his famous fatherly and loving figure?
Michael Landon On Set
While he played a caring and nurturing father figure on the drama, Landon was different from his character in a handful of ways.
For starters, producers and directors of the show likely thought it was best to make sure Charles Ingalls had underwear on. For Landon, that was a tough request.
According to an article from ABC News, Landon had the “unsaintly” habit of showing up for work on set without having any underwear on. While a small personal habit, Landon had a range of different characteristics behind-the-scenes. He could have a great sense of humor, but he was reportedly often strict as well.
Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie on “Little House on the Prairie,” said that he was far from his “prairie dad” image. He attended Playboy Jazz Festivals, smoked and drank a lot, drove around in his Ferrari, and had a wild and extravagant sense of humor while filming.
Arngrim had explained that Landon took on a leadership role and forced everyone around him to be perfect.
“He saw to it that the rules were obeyed. We said ‘yes, sir’ and ‘yes, ma’am.’ We had to know our lines. We were held to a higher standard.”
Landon was a widely popular figure at the time and used his influence on the set. He was in other shows, such as “Bonanza,” and had been married three times. Landon also had nine children and stepchildren.
Landon’s Home and Family Life
Michael Landon really did play the perfect dad on television. Countless children and adults looked up to the “Little House on the Prairie” family. For many, it was what providing and a happy family could look like.
Micheal Landon Jr. created the 1999 film “Michael Landon, the Father I Knew.” It told the story of Landon’s home life and what it was like to grow up with the figure others saw as the perfect dad.
According to Variety, Landon was the perfect dad for a bit. He made time to take his kids fishing and tried to be sympathetic and understanding. However, he eventually became focused on other desires, which also included being involved with a makeup artist on set.
Landon Jr. said in their last moments before his father’s death, he said his unstable childhood may have been why he made irrational decisions while parenting. Landon Jr. battled alcohol abuse while his sister Leslie was bulimic. She said that she thought her father would pay more attention to her if she was skinnier.
The film helps describe the phases of Michael Landon’s life and his connections between work and home.