Michael Landon’s death left his Little House on the Prairie co-star Melissa Gilbert devastated, but she was grateful she got to see him before he died. Gilbert gave some insight into their final time together before Landon’s death.
Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landon lost touch but reconnected
During a 2011 interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Gilbert shared that even though they were close while doing the series, when he left Little House on the Prairie, they “lost touch.”
They hoped to get together but never found the right timing.
“Our social connection had definitely severed at that point but we reconnected at his daughter Leslie’s wedding and were actually making plans to get together,” Gilbert explained.
“We finally were going to get together and it was right before he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and then it just all happened so fast,” she continued. “So no, we didn’t see or talk to each other as often as we could have but we did have a really significant and important time together — it turned out to be exactly a week before he died, I went out to see him.”
Gilbert shared the importance of seeing Landon before his death
Gilbert shared how it was “really hard” to see Landon “so frail and sick,” explaining, “I could tell that he was done. He’d suffered a lot with a very brave face.”
“Seeing him unable to get up off the couch was hard,” she shared. “But I’m really glad I did it. I almost chickened out at the last minute and then I thought, ‘You’d better go do this.’”
While she didn’t share the details of that final time with Landon, she did say they were able to have a meaningful talk. “We spent the day out there and he and I had some time to be alone, which was very important for both of us,” Gilbert said. “And gave us a chance to say a lot of things that we hadn’t ever really said to each other.”
Gilbert said she was so “glad” she had that time with her TV dad before he died. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him … I’m lucky enough to have had the chance to name one of my sons after him, so I hear his name every day,” she said.
Melissa Gilbert said she had a ‘symbiotic connection’ with Michael Landon
Gilbert met Landon when she auditioned for Little House on the Prairie and, when she did an emotional scene for a screen test, she first felt what she called a “symbiotic connection” with the actor.
“I remember clear as anything, the two of us doing this scene and him looking at me with tears in his eyes and it instantly bringing me to tears,” Gilbert recalled. “It was just so easy.”
“That was, I didn’t know at the time, was the beginning of what we would be able to do to each other on camera for all those years,” she added. “There was some sort of symbiotic connection there.”