Michael Landon’s Little House on the Prairie co-stars were near and dear to him and when he died in 1991, they all attended his funeral. It was both somber and funny at times, beginning with what one of the stars of the beloved TV show said happened when they all sat down to honor the late star.
Michael Landon’s funeral had his co-stars falling in line in a familiar way
In her book Confessions of a Prairie B*tch, Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie on Little House, shared the details of Landon’s funeral, which was a somber affair but had some light-heartedness too.
She recalled something interesting that happened, perhaps ingrained in everyone’s memory from their days working on Little House on the Prairie.
“Almost the whole cast was in attendance. We filed in and wandered around uncomfortably for a minute before sitting down,” Arngrim recalled. “When we settled and looked around, we all noticed it. We had taken our seats in exactly the same positions we sat in when we did church scenes on the show.”
“The women sat down in the same pew as their TV husbands (except for me, of course — though Steve was there in spirit), and we all sat the same number of rows back from the front,” she continued.
“It was as if Michael had called us with his old megaphone, and we’d all gone on autopilot and gotten into formation,” she added. “My God, he had us well trained.”
“It was good to see my old friends and colleagues, even under these circumstances,” she noted. “Some of us hadn’t seen each other since the show ended in 1983, and nearly went to pieces.”
Michael Landon wanted his funeral to have humor
Arngrim also shared how Landon had wanted there to be some levity at his funeral and his friends and family were able to provide that.
She noted that Merlin Olsen, who played Jonathan Garvey on Little House on the Prairie, delivered the eulogy. Olsen was also well-known for appearing in FTD flower commercials at the time, a fact that he weaved into the eulogy.
“His speech was absolutely brilliant, moving and funny at the same time,” she recalled in her book. “He started by saying, perfectly deadpan, ‘Hello, I’m Merlin Olsen. I sell flowers.’ He then went on to do a virtual stand-up routine about Michael.”
“Michael had insisted his funeral be funny, and he got his wish,” Arngrim continued. “Some people had wondered if Michael would have a religious funeral when he died. He did. It was Jewish.”
“But even the rabbi made fun of him: ‘Michael was not religious, in the traditional sense of the word…’ He spoke of Michael’s response when the doctors told him that the chemo treatments would destroy his beautiful mane of hair,” the actor wrote. “He said, ‘I’m rich, I’ll buy a hat.’”