‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon Explained Why Show Was ‘Fresh’ Compared to Other Scripts

by Matthew Wilson
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After finishing up work on “Bonanza,” series star Michael Landon could have starred on almost any television show that he wanted to. So how did the iconic actor wind up as Charles Ingalls on “Little House on the Prairie?”

Well ultimately, it came down to the script. In a 1974 interview, Michael Landon discussed how he chose the TV show as his next project. After “Bonanza,” the network through numerous pilots Landon’s way. But the actor passed on all of the scripts. For one, he found them to be too violent or stereotypical. For instance, the network offered him both medical dramas and westerns.

“I read it. At this particular time, I had read probably 40 pilots that NBC wanted me to make,” Landon said. “The majority of which were murder and mayhem. The rest of them were doctors working on incurable diseases. And one man who landed on the wrong planet. I really haven’t found anything that – that was another winner.”

Michael Landon and ‘Little House on the Prairie’

The script for “Little House on the Prairie” was unlike any Michael Landon had come across. For one, Landon wasn’t interested in returning to the Wild West. He had spent 14 years as Little Joe on the hit series “Bonanza” and didn’t want to retread past successes.

Additionally, Landon was interested in starring in something wholesome. He had a number of kids that he wanted to watch his works. He didn’t want to star in something confrontational. “Little House on the Prairie” appealed to Landon because it was about a family and children growing up. It taught the values and meanings of life.

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

Landon ended up making a great choice. He starred on “Little House on the Prairie” for eight seasons as Charles Ingalls. The TV show ended up being one of his most iconic works. And his role as Charles Ingalls became a part of TV history.

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