Melissa Gilbert Was Drawn to ‘Men Who Smelled Like Alcohol’ Because of ‘Little House’ Star Michael Landon

The cast of 'Little House on the Prairie' 1975
The cast of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ 1975 | NBCU Photo Bank

Melissa Gilbert’s remembrances of her years on Little House on the Prairie are filled with affectionate memories with the cast. The actor, after all, spent most of her adolescence on the program.

She revealed that throughout the years one of the strongest associations that remained with her was her attraction to men who, as she put it, “smelled like alcohol.”

And this was thanks to Michael Landon.

The pressure on Michael Landon in the 1st year of ‘Little House’

Michael Landon
Michael Landon | Bruce Birmelin/NBCU Photo Bank

Landon was approached in 1972 by NBC executive Ed Friendly, who’d purchased the film and television rights to Laura Ingall Wilder’s novels, about directing the pilot for the series.

Landon accepted and the series took off. But it was rough going for Landon, as actor Karen Grassle who portrayed his wife Caroline Ingalls on the show related to Closer Weekly in July.

“He was constantly trying to make the crew laugh and make everybody happy,” she said. “A very hard worker, and he could be quite moody — he had a lot on his shoulders that first year. He had a falling-out with a producer very early on, so he was the only captain.”

Landon and much of the ‘Little House’ cast drank on set

According to Alison Arngrim who famously played bully Nellie Oleson on the series, she discovered Michael Landon drank on the show’s set by accident.

Arngrim liked to hide in trucks on the set and nap. While settling down one day for some quick shut-eye, she was startled at what she overheard.

“One morning I awoke to the sound of footsteps and the creaking of the truck. We had a visitor,” she wrote.

Alison Arngrim as Nellie Oleson
Alison Arngrim as Nellie Oleson | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal
via Getty Images via Getty Images

RELATED: ‘Little House on the Prairie’: This Cast Member ‘Disliked’ Star Michael Landon ‘On Sight’

The young actor thought nothing of it until she heard the voice of the uninvited guest.

“When I heard the voice, I froze. It was Michael [Landon]. I peeked around the seat to see Michael smiling in his Charles Ingalls boots and suspenders, extending a Styrofoam cup. ‘Hit me.’

“[Crew member] Ron produced a bottle of Wild Turkey. No, not a bottle, a jug. He began to pour. ‘About four fingers,’ instructed Michael, wanting to leave some room for the coffee, I suppose.”

Arngrim went on to say that she realized soon that not only did Landon drink, but that “most of the crew of Little House drank constantly.”

Gilbert’s revelation about Landon and the men she was attracted to

Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landon in a scene from 'Little House on the Prairie' 1975
Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landon in a scene from ‘Little House on the Prairie’ 1975 | NBCU Photo Bank

In her 2010 memoir Prairie Tale, Melissa Gilbert opened up about her realization that many of her initial attractions to men were based on the comforting feeling the smell of alcohol gave her.

“I’ve realized [Michael Landon’s] influence on me extended way beyond the set,” she said. “As a kid, I didn’t know he sipped vodka from his coffee mug every day almost as frequently as he pulled me into his sweat-soaked torso for a giant bear hug.

“I’m sure he’s one of the primary reasons why as a young woman, I almost always picked men who smelled like alcohol.”