‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon Once Challenged Young Costar to Bizarre Eating Contest

by Joe Rutland
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Never let it be said that Michael Landon didn’t keep things jumping on the set of “Little House on the Prairie.” He loved to compete.

Landon, who had success as “Little Joe” Cartwright on NBC’s classic western “Bonanza,” would be extremely picky about scripts and scenes. He always fought for what he thought should have been done.

Things were a lot different on “Little House on the Prairie” as he had a say in pretty much everything on the show. This time, though, he challenged cast member Melissa Sue Anderson to what she called “a chili-and-onions contest.”

“I might have won, I can’t remember, I was too sick!” Anderson said in an interview with Zunshine.com. “He was great, a terrific guy.”

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Frustrated Landon

Anderson, who played the eldest daughter Mary Ingalls, said, “He (Landon) always tried to make me laugh at the end of my close-ups, but I frustrated him because I wouldn’t laugh.”

Landon would fill in roles as actor, writer, director, and producer of the NBC family show. He made sure the cast was on point with their work but also had time for fun. As you can tell, Anderson seemed to enjoy keeping the star of the show on his toes.

But her comments in this interview seem to contradict other comments regarding Landon.

In another interview, this time with AJC.com, Anderson, who wrote a book called “The Way I See It” about her time on the show, said Landon ruled it with an “iron fist.”

She also wrote about Landon’s “mean streak” on the “Little House on the Prairie” set. Apparently, she and Landon spoke and made their peace before he died in 1991.

Anderson Not A Fan Of Script Adjustments After Going Blind

During the show’s fourth season, Mary loses her sight. The scripts written for Anderson didn’t give her much to do. They were boring to her.

Again, she writes about that period of time in her memoir, “The Way I See It.”

“It wasn’t just the blind issue but also the period of the show,” Anderson said. “It was very limiting what you could or couldn’t do. I used to say I was blind and boring. Either I was just there not doing much or going through some tragedy. I couldn’t take it anymore. It became too soap opera-ish.”

A “Little House on the Prairie” episode where Mary goes catatonic after losing a baby due to fire didn’t suit her, according to AJC.com. Anderson left the show after its eighth season.

Outsider.com