‘Little House on the Prairie’: After the Set Was Blown Up, a Director Returned for This 1 Thing

Little House on the Prairie ended with a bang. The set was blown up for the final installment of the television series in 1984. One of the directors decided to return to the set to retrieve this one thing.

Michael Landon initially didn’t know ‘Little House on the Prairie’ had been cancelled

Michael Landon with a crew member on Little House on the Prairie | NBCU Photo Bank
Michael Landon with a crew member on Little House on the Prairie | NBCU Photo Bank

According to Melissa Gilbert, Michael Landon had no idea Little House on the Prairie had been cancelled. In her autobiography, Prairie Tale, she says he didn’t know until after she called him to ask about it. She says by the time she called Landon back, he figured out the show had indeed been cancelled.

Gilbert says Landon was “furious” by the time she spoke to him again. He was hurt and angry that the NBC president at the time, Brandon Tartikoff, didn’t call him in advance to let him know about the cancellation. She says Landon had worked with the network since 1959.

Melissa Gilbert says Michael Landon wanted to blow up the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ set

After Landon found out Little House on the Prairie had been cancelled, he decided the best way to end things would be the blow the set up. He was angry and this was his way to get closure.

“Perceiving disrespect, Mike’s temper red-lined,” wrote Gilbert. “He wanted to destroy all the sets—Walnut Grove, everything in Simi Valley.”

Gilbert says Landon declared, “I’m going to blow the whole f*****ng thing up.” He was able to include  the explosion in the script of the final Little House on the Prairie TV movie, titled “The Last Farewell.” Gilbert says blowing up the set was Landon’s “last f**** you” to the network.

Since sets were often reused, he didn’t want anyone else using the sets that meant so much to him and where many young cast members grew up. The only structure Landon decided not to have blown up was the church.

A director came back to the set to retrieve 1 thing

Michael Landon |  NBCU Photo Bank
Michael Landon | NBCU Photo Bank

Little House on the Prairie meant a lot to the cast and crew. It was difficult for them to leave something behind that had been such a big part of their lives for so many years. In the book Conversations with Michael Landon, author Tom Ito says one of the assistant directors, Maury Dexter, decided to return to the demolished set after the filming of the final episode.

The reason the director came back was so he could take a few pieces of wood from the buildings that had been blown up. He took the wood so he could build a deck for his home. “I find it somewhat comforting to know that the town of Walnut Grove lives on as part of the exterior of Maury’s house,” wrote Ito.

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