‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon Wanted to Take Better Care of Himself

Michael Landon died on July 1, 1991, from pancreatic and liver cancer at the age of 54. Before the Little House on the Prairie star died, he expressed a desire to take better care of himself and live a healthy lifestyle.   

Melissa Gilbert said Michael Landon often smelled like alcohol

Michael Landon and Bart Conner | Ron Tom/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
Michael Landon and Bart Conner | Ron Tom/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Melissa Gilbert, who played Landon’s daughter, Laura Ingalls, on Little House on the Prairie, said Landon had a significant impact on her as a child and young adult. Although she didn’t know at the time that he drank vodka from his coffee mug every day, she says she believes he’s the reason she tended to date men who smelled like alcohol when she was a young woman.

Gilbert also says Landon influenced her preference for men who were “physical” and had a sense of humor. Sometimes, when the crew shot outdoor scenes on the ranch, she says he would take off his shirt and work in just pants, suspenders, and boots. “Women came out in droves to watch him work and to swoon,” wrote Gilbert in her autobiography Prairie Tale.

Michael Landon wanted to take better care of himself

Landon not only drank alcohol but also smoked. In Conversations with Michael Landon, by author Tom Ito, Landon said he wanted to produce more TV movies and short projects so that he could focus more on his health. However, he admitted he had to work on getting rid of his “terrible vices.”

“[Short projects] have given me a chance to get back to what I needed to do, and that’s physically take care of myself,” Landon told Ito. Landon said he wanted to put more time into working out and feeling good. His vices made that tougher, but he joked that he didn’t want to live to be 95 because he just wanted to look good in front of the camera.

Landon went to the gym and played tennis so he could remain fit. He told Ito that when he worked out, he felt smarter. He also said he liked the feeling of the endorphins after a good workout. He revealed that he experienced a time in his life when he started feeling bad about himself, but once he began working out, he started to feel better.

Michael Landon tried to beat cancer through a healthy lifestyle

Landon did all he could to beat cancer. He began a treatment that emphasized diet and vitamins instead of chemotherapy, reports Associated Press. One of Landon’s complaints was that the oranges were causing his skin to become discolored.

“Damn carrots are turning me orange,” said Landon. “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.”

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