‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon Detailed Hilarious ‘Exploding’ Fail When He Tried to Clean House

by Jennifer Shea
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“Little House on the Prairie” star Michael Landon thought he was handy around the house. The busy actor had been working constantly, and then one day he woke up and decided to clean the house while his wife was still asleep.

Calamity ensued, as Landon hilariously detailed for Johnny Carson in a September 1974 episode of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” Meanwhile, Landon, seemingly oblivious to the havoc he was wreaking around the house, moved from one accident-prone project to the next.

“So I got up, and I decided to do all the things that I hadn’t done,” Landon explained to Carson. “And there were a number around my house. So I went downstairs, and the pipe had broken on the ice maker. So I kind of paddled my way through the pantry, and the coffee maker had died… There’s no way to get to that. So I boil the water, and now I decide to do the important things: Clean the ovens.”

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Michael Landon Cleans House

“We have automatic ovens, right?” Landon went on. “I flip on ‘clean’ on four ovens… But I don’t put the shields up. Now, I’m sitting there drinking my coffee, and it’s like four television sets exploding, right in your face. The glass breaks.”

“My wife’s not up yet, so I’m not in trouble,” he added, with an impish grin.

“So I go into the dining room,” the “Little House on the Prairie” star continued. “And I want to clean the chandelier. I’ve got a beautiful chandelier. I start to clean, each candle at a time, and I’m thinking, ‘Dynamite.’ It looks incredible. And I keep turning it. Do another candle, turn it…”

By now, Carson’s audience had begun to guess what happened next. There was tentative laughter in the studio.

“I swear to you on my life, I unscrew it, right out of the ceiling,” Landon said. “I now have the most incredible Lazy Susan sunk into my dining room table that you’ve ever seen.”

“Look, you big klutz, why do you those things?” Carson interjected.

“Because I don’t plow well, either, Johnny,” Landon replied.

Watch Landon’s “Johnny Carson” appearance in full here:

Landon Died Young

Just three months after he was diagnosed with cancer of the liver and pancreas, Landon was dead at age 54. He passed away in 1991 in his Malibu home with his family by his side, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“I am going to fight it,” Landon said at a news conference he held at his home upon receiving his diagnosis. “Every moment gets a little more important after something like this. Live every moment, guys.”

The star of “Bonanza” and “Little House on the Prairie” had tried experimental cancer therapies, including one that sent drug-dispensing bubbles of fat to the tumor in his pancreas. But he was facing long odds. At that point, just 3 percent of pancreatic cancer patients and 5 percent of liver cancer patients lived more than five years after their diagnosis, according to the Associated Press.

“I’m not the kind of person who gives up without a fight,” Landon told Life magazine in 1991. “If I’m gonna die, death’s gonna have to do a lot of fighting to get me.”   

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