‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon Learned From Melissa Gilbert That the Show Was Canceled
The Little House on the Prairie cast shot Season 9 of the series without knowing it was their last. Not even Michael Landon knew, who acted as the executive producer, writer, and director of the show, as well as the man behind Charles Ingalls. Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls Wilder, actually found out the show was canceled before Landon. She was the one who officially broke the news to Pa Ingalls.
How Melissa Gilbert learned ‘Little House on the Prairie’ was canceled
Gilbert didn’t learn about Little House on the Prairie‘s cancelation in the way actors typically learn the show they’ve been acting on for almost a decade has been canceled.
In the spring of 1983, she received a phone call from Victor French asking her if she’d like to appear on either The Dinah Shore Show or The Tonight Show to “protest” what was happening, according to the actor’s memoir, Prairie Tale.
“I’m down for a protest. What are we protesting?” she asked
“The cancellation,” he responded.
Melissa Gilbert called Michael Landon as soon as she heard ‘Little House on the Prairie’ had been canceled
Gilbert told French she’d call him back and gave Landon a call.
“I got Mike on the phone and asked if we were canceled,” wrote Gilbert. “He said he hadn’t received an official call from the network, but had heard Little House wasn’t listed among the shows on NBC’s fall lineup.”
Gilbert and Landon hung up and the Laura Ingalls actor called her agent, “Uncle Ray,” for more information and he confirmed they weren’t on the schedule.
“By the time I called Mike back, he had done his own reconnaissance work and he was furious that he had never received an official phone call from NBC president Brandon Tartikoff or anyone else at the network, letting him know the fate of the show,” wrote Gilbert. “He had been on the network since 1959. Perceiving disrespect, Mike’s temper red-lined. He wanted to destroy all the sets—Walnut Grove, everything in Simi Valley.”
“I’m going to blow the whole f*cking thing up,” he said.
How ‘Little House on the Prairie’ ended with three movies
Landon was furious with the network and set on blowing everything up.
“He didn’t want to leave anything behind,” wrote Gilbert. “TV and movie sets tend to get recycled over time, and none of us wanted to see Oleson’s Mercantile being used in some other production and have other people tromping through places where many of us had grown up.”
But Uncle Ray told Landon to keep a lid on his strong emotions and suggest they “milk the situation for a couple of Little House movies” first.
So that’s what they did. The Little House cast and crew all gathered together for the last time to shoot Look Back to Yesterday, Bless All the Dear Children, and The Last Farewell. And everything ended with a bang.