‘Little House on the Prairie’: Why Isiah Edwards Actor Victor French Left the Series for Two Years and Then Came Back

by Anna Dunn
little-house-on-the-prairie-why-isiah-edwards-actor-victor-french-left-series-two-years-came-back

Little House on the Prairie had many notable guest actors and supporting actors come in and out. Victor French, who played Isiah Edwards, was one of them. He left the show for two years to pursue another show, Carter Country. During this time, Merlin Olsen, who played Jonathan Garvin, was brought back on the show to play Charles’s sidekick.

Sadly for French, but luckily for the team at Little House on the Prairie, Carter Country was canceled in 1977, and French returned to Little House on the Prairie. Merlin Olsen, meanwhile, was gradually written out of the series. There were clearly no hard feelings between him and producer Michael Landon, though. Olsen landed his own show, Father Murphy, in 1981, which Landon also produced.

Michael Landon and Victor French had an incredibly strong friendship. They met on the set of Bonanza and were close ever since. In 1985, French joked about how much time he spent with Landon to The Washington Post.

“When he went off to do Little House on the Prairie, he wanted me for the show,” he said. “We spend more time together than a married couple.”

Not only did Landon want French for the role, but he had to fight to get him there. According to The LA Times, the actor said that “the network wanted a name actor, but Michael stood by his guns. That role changed my career. Michael is really my ‘angel.’ ” 

French Felt Little House On The Prairie Was Different

He also told The Washington Post that he felt the show worked partly because of its wholesome nature.  “I think Michael has good taste. I think I have good taste. Every show is an effort to show there’s a way to solve problems other than violence . . . We’re saturated with other shows telling us violence, hurtling cars, and T-and-A are the ways to solve problems.”

For Little House on the Prairie, violence wasn’t the answer (unless it was used in a lighthearted and comedic way like when Nellie got pushed into the lake). Often, problems on the show were solved by talking or strategy. Little House on the Prairie taught an entire generation important life lessons about problem-solving and resolving conflict.

French Planned A Hilarious Message For Attendants Of His Memorial Service

Sadly, Victor French passed away from lung cancer in 1989. The actor, whose co-workers described him as incredibly kind-hearted but also hilarious, planned a message to the cast for his funeral. Charlotte Stewart said in an interview that at the memorial service, a plane flew overhead and wrote in the sky, “Eat s—, Love, Victor,” which was greeted by an uproar of laughter.

Victor’s time on Little House on the Prairie reportedly brought great joy to his co-stars. While it’s always sad when a TV show doesn’t work out, at least French got to spend quality time with his Little House on the Prairie crew after the cancellation of Carter Country and continued to make them smile, even during tragic moments.

Outsider.com