‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon Was Unhappy Without This 1 Thing

Michael Landon played Charles Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie from 1974 to 1983. He once said there was one thing he was unhappy without.

Michael Landon treated his staff like family

Michael Landon | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images
Michael Landon | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Landon was dedicated to his TV family. He worked hard to treat everyone the same and he made sure production wrapped by 5:00 p.m. so everyone could get home in time to eat dinner with their families.

During a reunion on the Today show, Michael Landon Jr. said one of the things he liked about the show was that the work days weren’t very long. “The great thing about the series is the hours that my father set,” said Landon Jr. “It doesn’t happen anymore, but he was home for dinner.”

Melissa Sue Anderson added that she appreciated how the schedule was structured. “The set wrapped so that everybody could be home for dinner at six o’clock.”

Michael Landon was unhappy without this 1 thing

Although Landon loved his job, there was one thing that made him unhappy. During an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he said he needed to be in control. If he wasn’t managing things, this made him unhappy.

“I have a thing about control,” said Landon. “The only times in my life when I was unhappy is when I didn’t have it.” “I like to have it.”

In Conversations with Michael Landon by Michael Ito, Landon explained he likes to be in control not because of his ego, but because he just has a different way of doing things. He wanted the freedom to be able to write and direct a production how he saw fit.

Landon’s staff didn’t seem to mind. They grew to love and respect him as an actor, writer, producer, and director. The late Victor French, who often appeared in Landon’s productions, expressed his admiration for his boss and friend.

French told the Los Angeles Times he enjoyed “working with the man that I love,” referring to Landon. French praised Landon’s work and spoke about the time he watched an episode of a show he did and started crying.  

“I went home [one day] and started watching one of our shows that had a quadriplegic actor in it, and I started crying,” said French. “I thought, ‘Thank God, I’m in a show in which that actor is able to do that [role].’”

Melissa Gilbert said it was difficult to get a job on the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ crew

If you wanted to join Landon’s Little House on the Prairie crew, you had a tough road ahead of you, according to Melissa Gilbert. In her autobiography Prairie Tale, she said you basically had to be related to someone on the crew if you wanted to work for Landon. Most of his crew members had been with him since he starred on Bonanza, and he liked to work with the same people.

“He inspired loyalty and expected it in return,” wrote Gilbert. “You couldn’t get a position on one of his crews unless your father was on the crew and left the job to you when he died.”

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