‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon Loved His Body and Refused to Let His Character Break Any Bones or Get Injured
Little House on the Prairie viewers adore the ‘70s classic, as it was the perfect snapshot of the Midwest. And it wouldn’t be what it is today without Michael Landon. Landon played the father figure, Charles Ingalls, and he also helped direct and produce the show through the years.
It seems Landon had his own ideas regarding what should happen with the characters in the show, too. And for his character, he was all about keeping up with his trim physique and good looks. Here’s why Landon refused to allow Charles to get seriously injured in the storyline.
Michael Landon delayed ‘Little House on the Prairie’ production because of his hair preferences
No one else could’ve played Charles Ingalls as perfectly as Landon, but the actor certainly had his quirks. Many of his fellow Little House on the Prairie actors have talked about what it was like working alongside Landon. And it seems his hair was a hot topic of conversation.
When Landon started working on the set of the TV series Bonanza, his hair started to gray prematurely. He didn’t want Charles to have gray hair on the show, so Landon took to dyeing it. He reportedly was a fan of Clairol Medium Ash Brown dye, as it was close to his natural color.
Unfortunately, working in the sunshine all the time was tough on his dyed locks. Landon’s hair turned lavender over time, and this caused on-set delays, as production had to adjust the lighting to take away from the color. After that, Landon allowed his hair to be dyed professionally.
Landon refused to allow his character to get too scuffed up in storylines
Not only did Landon want Charles’ hair to be perfect, but he also wanted his character’s body to remain totally unscathed throughout filming.
There’s no secret that Landon had a chiseled physique — and it seems he wanted to show it off whenever he could. According to PureVolume, the actor preferred to film his scenes without a shirt on. And, because Landon was involved in production and story development, he didn’t want anything to ruin his character’s body. This meant Charles would never break any bones or get seriously injured throughout the entirety of the series.
There were a few exceptions to the rule, though. In the episode “The Hunters,” Charles has a hunting accident, but he’s ultimately just fine.
It seems Landon’s shirtlessness could be excused due to the extreme weather conditions. The publication also notes the Simi Valley, California, sun caused some of the actors to pass out from heat exhaustion. And the heavy cotton outfits, long-sleeve blouses, petticoats surely didn’t help.
Landon did everything he could to help his cancer diagnosis
It’s clear Landon kept himself in good shape throughout his life. Unfortunately, he died in 1991 due to pancreatic cancer. He died just three months after his initial diagnosis in April of that year.
AP News notes Landon kept himself in good spirits and good health after he was diagnosed, though. “I’m not the kind of person who gives up without a fight. If I’m gonna die, death’s gonna have to do a lot of fighting to get me,” he expressed during an interview for Life Magazine.
Instead of chemotherapy at first, Landon opted for a more natural route, too. He changed his diet to be full of vitamins, and he gave himself coffee enemas in the hope that that would help him.
“D*mn carrots are turning me orange,” he noted at the time. “And every time I eat or drink, I swallow digestive enzymes to replace what the pancreas has stopped producing. And then, once a day, I take a tried-and-true remedy for intestinal irritation — a coffee enema. Yup, I get filled to the rim. Organic coffee, I might add.”
Despite feeling great from his dietary changes, Landon succumbed to his illness. He died on July 1, 1991.
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