Michael Landon: How Long After ‘Bonanza’ Did He Start ‘Little House on the Prairie’?

by Joe Rutland
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Michael Landon loved to stay busy, whether it was in front of or behind the camera. Landon finished up “Bonanza” and moved to his next series.

What was that series? In 1974, the following year after “Bonanza” ended its multi-season run on NBC, Landon started playing Charles Ingalls in “Little House on the Prairie,” according to IMDb.

It was quite a change for his fans, too. For many years, Landon played dashing, young, brash Joe Cartwright on “Bonanza.”

Now people tuning into “Little House on the Prairie” are seeing him in long-sleeve shirts and overalls. Plus he’s playing a husband and father, too.

Michael Landon Brought Reputation Into ‘Little House’

Now Michael Landon had quite a reputation of being difficult to work with on “Bonanza.” He caused countless delays in show production as he nitpicked scripts, camera shots, and just about anything that didn’t suit him.

But the “Little House” setup seemed to be right down his alley. Landon directed 87 of the show’s episodes, by far the most of any director the NBC series had during its run.

Landon actually directed a two-hour pilot movie which was based around the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, just like “Little House on the Prairie” would be for its run. When approached to do so by NBC executive Ed Friendly, Landon had just one other request: portray Charles Ingalls himself. The deal was done and, therefore, set the tone for Landon’s new endeavor with “The Peacock Network.”

Besides Landon, other cast members on “Little House on the Prairie” included Karen Grassle, Melissa Gilbert, Melissa Sue Anderson, and Victor French.

Gilbert Reveals Advice Landon Gave Her After Show Finale

Gilbert holds fond memories of her time working with Landon. After nine seasons, the show came to an end. Producers had a land developer, in the script, purchase all of Hero Township. Those who lived there had a choice in the script: fight the land developer or blow the town up. They chose to blow it up.

Well, that was done. It left Gilbert and others walking on the final day of the “Little House” set emotional, including her fatherly star.

As the cast walked to the set, they saw that nothing remained after crew members blew it all up.

Melissa Gilbert was only 10 years old when the show debuted. After nine years on air, she really did grow up on the set. Gilbert said that, when filming completed, she went to visit the rubble one last time. She got there and saw Michael Landon standing in the middle of it crying, too.

“He put his arm around me and he was crying. And I started crying,” Melissa Gilbert said. “And I looked at him and I said, ‘I’m scared.’ And he said ‘Don’t be scared. For you, this is just the beginning.’ And we walked away back to the trailers together, arm and arm…But he was right. It really was just the beginning.”

Outsider.com