Even though fans closely identify actors with the character they portray, those actors are usually very different people from their on-screen personas. According to one star of “Little House on the Prairie,” this was the case with Michael Landon.
That star is actress Alison Arngrim. She played a character fans just loved to hate on the popular family drama. That character was Nellie Oleson. During a 2016 interview with Pop Goes the Culture TV, Arngrim shared many behind-the-scenes details about the show.
A few of those details included how Landon, who played patriarch Charles Ingalls and served as the show’s producer, often behaved differently than his character.
Arngrim commented on the nature of Michael Landon after she was asked what it was like to view him as a teacher and a mentor.
“It’s funny to think of, you know, Michael as a teacher,” Arngrim said. “‘Cause he was so crazy and funny and wild. I mean, people talk about him now, it’s ‘Saint Michael.’ He’s, he’s … the Vatican doing a letter. I mean, he’s just become sainted.”
According to this “Little House on the Prairie” star, Landon did many things that were very much unlike Pa Ingalls.
“And, he was this crazy person,” Arngrim said of Landon. “I mean, he was divorced twice. He was married three times. He had a whole passel of kids. Um, he drank and smoked. He told dirty jokes. He swore. I mean, he did all these ‘Not Pa Ingalls’ things. [Michael Landon] was so not Pa Ingalls. He was a lot more fun than that.”
Alison Arngrim of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Said Michael Landon ‘Was This Regular Guy’
Even though he was a famous – and beloved – television star by the time “Little House on the Prairie” began, Michael Landon was a “regular guy,” according to Alison Arngrim.
“He was this regular guy. And, they would have these wrap parties at the end of the day and break out the beer for the crew,” she recalled. “He would take us to the race track at the end of the year for the wrap party, you know.”
In addition to what she learned on the set, Michael Landon also taught Arngrim another skill.
“Yeah, I mean, he was a mentor,” she said. “He taught me how to bet on horses.”
Michael Landon was also a bit of a practical joker, according to Alison Arngrim.
“He was very, very funny,” she said. “I mean, the things he liked to do. Like I said, he this totally wild, sort of like almost debauchery side. Then, he was so good with all these children. … No, he didn’t let us into the liquor and cigarettes. There were rules on the set.”
You can watch Alison Arngrim talk about “Little House on the Prairie” below. Her comments about Michael Landon’s “Not-Pa Ingalls” behavior begins around the 12:30 mark of the video.