“Little House on the Prairie” star Michael Landon may have lead the production of the classic TV show. But he was also a bit of a prankster while on the set. For instance, he once pranked series star Melissa Gilbert in an epic Halloween practical joke she probably never forgot.
Late producer Kent McCray discussed the prank in a 2016 interview with Medium. The production decided to host Halloween for its young cast during one season. Melissa Gilbert and her friends may have been looking for some treats. But Landon decided to deliver a trick instead.
“They were back at the hotel. Melissa Gilbert and Matthew decided to take a pillowcase and go from room to room, knocking on doors seeing if they could pick up any candy,” McCray recalled. “They got to Mike’s room. He said, ‘Just a minute.’ He came back out and put something into the pillowcase.”
It was only after Gilbert got back to her room that she discovered Landon had tricked her. He had put something other than candy in her makeshift trick ‘r treat bag.
“They got back to their room and started emptying out the pillowcase,” McCray said. “Turns out Michael had given them his undershorts which he had smeared with peanut butter. They nearly fainted! Melissa’s mother told me the next day that Melissa exclaimed, ‘This is terrible, just terrible. Get this outta here!’ They assumed it was something else kinda gross [laughs]. That’s the kind of jokester Mike was.”
Michael Landon, the Prankster
Michael Landon encouraged a playful attitude on set whenever they weren’t working. He enjoyed pranking overly-enthusiastic fans and Gilbert as well. Landon’s nature as a prankster must have affected the cast and crew as well. Because they started pranking people as well. Take Kent McCray for instance. The producer had his own Halloween prank.
“I could see the kids — Melissa Gilbert [Laura Ingalls], Melissa Sue Anderson [Mary Ingalls], Matthew Labyorteaux [Albert Ingalls], and twins Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush [Carrie Ingalls] — coming up the hill,” McCray recalled. “They got just about 10 feet away from me. I put the sheet over my head and reared up and bellowed, ‘Yowwww!!!’ They turned around and ran down the hill. They didn’t go over the fence — they went through it.”
Gilbert herself partnered with Alison Arngrim to make life on set interesting for their co-stars. The two would often pull pranks on unsuspecting victims. It sounds like “Little House on the Prairie” ended up becoming one gigantic prank war.