‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon Used to Dye His Own Hair for the Show

by Matthew Wilson
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“Little House on the Prairie” star Michael Landon was known for his long locks on the show. But his iconic hairdo required a bit of work as well. It turns out that Landon used hair dye while on the show to give it that signature brown.

Landon actually started going gray during his time on the set of “Bonanza.” At the time, the actor was still only in his 20s. Rather than be a young silver fox, Landon started using hair dye instead. In particular, Landon was a fan of the Clairol Medium Ash Brown to color in those grays, according to Mental Floss.

Bu the sun changed Landon’s hair color after a couple of days. The California sun ended up making that ash brown into a faded shade of lavender. Sometimes, Landon’s hair color became so distracting that it stopped production. The show had to adjust the lighting so it didn’t glow on the actor’s head. Eventually, Landon gave up on coloring his own hair and allowed a professional to do it.

Later in his career, Landon rocked the gray hair on a few occasions. But he kept dying his hair for most of his career as well.

Michael Landon: The Prankster on Set

On the set of the show, Landon also loved to perform pranks on the cast and some of his adoring fans. He would often recruit his young co-star Melissa Gilbert, to fetch frogs from the pond. Holding the amphibians in his mouth, he would scare unsuspecting fans by letting the frogs jump out.

“We shot exteriors on a Simi Valley ranch about ninety minutes north of Paramount, and if the sun was out, Mike would, by late morning, strip off his shirt and work in just his pants, boots, and suspenders,” Gilbert wrote in her autobiography. “(In all fairness, it could be hellaciously hot in Simi Valley.) Well, women came out in droves to watch him work and to swoon, and he loved playing a certain prank on them.”

Likewise, Landon didn’t like to wear underwear while on set, something that became a recurring issue throughout production on the show. But despite his humor on the set, Landon was also a professional and kept the show moving along schedule. He was often a mentor to the younger actors and directed many of the show’s episodes.

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