Michael Landon Revealed His Process Behind Hiring Child Actors for ‘Little House on the Prairie’

by Quentin Blount
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Little House on the Prairie star Michael Landon once explained his process behind hiring child actors while directing the popular show.

Michael Landon was a man who had many titles — some of those including actor, writer, director, and producer. He is well known for his roles as Little Joe Cartwright in Bonanza and as Charles Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie.

It goes without saying that Little House on the Prairie was one of the most iconic shows of the 1970s. And Michael Landon was one of the driving forces behind it. However, fans may wonder just how exactly Landon and his crew decided on which children to hire for roles on the show.

In footage provided by The Bobbie Wygant Archive, Landon was asked whether or not it was difficult for him as the director and producer to find the children to fill the roles on the show.

“I think we were very fortunate there,” Landon said during the sit-down. “I interviewed probably 100 little girls and we tested 12.”

Michael Landon then explains that they had twins play the part of baby Carrie Ingalls.

“We had Melissa Gilbert, Melissa Sue Anderson, and our little tiny one was actually twins,” Landon explained. “Because we could only use a small child three hours a day. So we have Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush. We had so many cute nicknames for them — they are really two little cute four-year-olds. They, together, played baby Carrie.”

You can watch the full seven-minute interview down below:

Michael Landon Was Like a ‘Second Father’ to Melissa Gilbert

Michael Landon hired Melissa Gilbert to play the role of Laura Ingalls when she was just ten years old. Being that young and impressionable, having a person like Michael Landon around on set definitely helped her maintain some structure.

The two Little House on the Prairie stars formed a bond with one another almost instantly and Landon became the father figure that Gilbert needed while she was away from home. The relationship between the two stars, both on and off the camera, was just as strong as it could be.

Gilbert even details the close relationship she had with Landon in her book, Prairie Tale.

“For me, work was a fantasy where I was a happy-go-lucky kid with a larger-than-life surrogate father in Michael Landon.”

Looking for more on the cast of Little House on the Prairie? Keep reading and stay up to date with all of the latest news right here on Outsider.

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