‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon’s Final 24 Hours Were ‘Unusual’ According to Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert had the opportunity to visit Michael Landon before he died. Gilbert described the events that took place during the last 24 hours of the Little House on the Prairie star’s life as “unusual.”

Melissa Gilbert’s last moments with Michael Landon

Michael Landon with wife Cindy | LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images
Michael Landon with wife Cindy | LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Gilbert saw Landon one week before he died. She delayed her trip a few times because she worried she wouldn’t be able to hold up emotionally after seeing him in a weakened state. When Gilbert first saw Landon during his final weeks, she was shocked by his appearance. She says she never saw anyone “as sick” as he was.

“He was extremely thin and frail,” wrote Gilbert in her book Prairie Tale. “He looked twice his age. His hair was white, and his skin was gray; all of his color had vanished. It was like he was almost invisible.”

Landon died one week after Gilbert’s visit. She says the television was on in the family room, and she was playing with her son, Dakota. Suddenly, she heard CNN announce Landon’s death. She said she “may have screamed,” when she heard the news. Gilbert described herself as “inconsolable” and “heartbroken.”

The final 24 hours of Michael Landon’s life

Gilbert wanted more information about Landon’s death. She though CNN might have had their information wrong, so she got in contact with Landon’s daughter, Leslie. During their conversation, Leslie told her about the “unusual” things her father experienced during his final 24 hours.  

According to Gilbert, Leslie told her Landon saw “the proverbial light” that helps people transition from this world to the next. She also says Landon saw his late mother waiting for him. Gilbert felt reassurance upon hearing about her TV dad’s experience. She still felt sadness, but she was comforted in knowing he was taken care of.

“As a family, they had shared moments that, on hearing them, didn’t lessen my sadness but reassured me that death isn’t a horrible, scary thing as much as it is a transition to something else,” wrote Gilbert.

Michael Landon’s views on death

During a press conference where he announced his cancer diagnosis, Landon gave his thoughts on death and how dying changed his approach to life. “I think every moment gets a little more important after something like this,” said Landon. “Things that you probably wouldn’t notice become important.”

In a separate interview with Entertainment Tonight, Landon said facing death didn’t make his loved ones more precious to him, because in his eyes they were already precious. “It’s not really a matter of your loved ones becoming more precious to you because they’re as precious as they can be,” said Landon.

Landon’s wife, Cindy, described the last days of her husband’s life as “intense” and “incredibly hard.” She said those final days with him were a wake-up call. “It finally hits you that this person is no longer going to be in your life.”

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