Fans and coworkers knew Michael Landon of Little House on The Prairie for his kindness and goofy antics on set, but he joked that working with kids was sometimes hard.
“The only thing that makes it difficult in working with children is they know their lines. It’s very embarrassing for the adults,” he joked to Johnny Carson in a 1974 interview.
“They have it down, so you cant fool around with them.” He continued.
All jokes aside, it seemed like Landon had no problem with working with children. Even when he transitioned from the cast of the very adult Bonanza to Little House on the Prairie, he said that “It’s the same laughs. That doesn’t change.”
The ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Kids Loved Michael Landon
The kids on the cast, now adults, have all shared kind words about their time working with Michael Landon. Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls, described Landon as a “surrogate father” to her.
Melissa Sue Anderson, who played Mary, spoke of Landon with nuance. She admitted their relationship wasn’t always easy, but she cared about him at the end of the day. “He was my boss, and I did love him. He was a great guy and a great person in my life, like a big brother to me.
The now incredibly successful Jason Bateman, who played James Cooper, spoke of Landon with Variety. “Michael Landon was somebody who had a huge influence on me in the way he led that set as a director, as an exec producer, as a writer and actor, and as somewhat of a father figure for me.” He said.
Another actress from the Little House on the Prairie, Allison Ingram, who played Nellie Olson, said, “He had this absolutely juvenile sense of humor, which made it great for all the kids. He was like a big kid himself.”
If the stories of the wacky pranks Landon would play on set are anything to go by, that’s a fair statement. In one prank, he put a pair of boxers covered in peanut butter in the kids’ trick-or-treating bag. Landon also challenged Melissa Sue Anderson to an eating contest.
Many of the Little House on the Prairie actors have described Michael Landon as being like family. It makes sense why Landon didn’t have much to complain about when he talked about working with the kids, even if it was “embarrassing” to forget your lines.