Michael Landon Said He Knew ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Melissa Gilbert Was ‘The One’

Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert developed a strong bond during the time they worked together on Little House and the Prairie. Gilbert says she and Landon had a heartfelt conversation before he died. During that conversation, he told her that she was always “the one.”

Melissa Gilbert visited Michael Landon before he died

Matthew Laborteaux as Albert Ingalls, Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls | Frank Carroll/NBCU Photo Bank
Matthew Laborteaux as Albert Ingalls, Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls | Frank Carroll/NBCU Photo Bank

Gilbert saw Landon one week before he died. In her autobiography Prairie Tale, she says he told her he wanted to laugh, so she brought a 1960s tape of her grandfather and Jerry Lewis pranking people over the phone, the Three Stooges collection, and a fart machine.

At first, Gilbert says she made excuses to delay her trip. She was anxious about seeing Landon when he was very sick. It had been a few weeks since his Tonight Show appearance, so she didn’t know what to expect. When Gilbert first saw Landon during his final weeks, she was shocked by his appearance. She says she never saw anyone “as sick” as he was.

“He was extremely thin and frail,” wrote Gilbert. “He looked twice his age. His hair was white, and his skin was gray; all of his color had vanished. It was like he was almost invisible.” Gilbert says she held his hand and thought about all the years they spent working together. She didn’t know what to say, so she just sat with him.

Michael Landon said Melissa Gilbert was ‘the one’

When Landon finally spoke, Gilbert says he told her that he saw every movie she had ever appeared in. After making that revelation, Landon said he always knew she would be “the one.”

It seems as if Landon was saying he always knew he picked the right actor to play Laura Ingalls. He also knew she would excel once the show ended. Gilbert says on the last day of filming, she told Landon that she didn’t know what to do after Little House.

Landon then told her not to be afraid and that the ending of the series was just the beginning for her. Once he saw all the success she had after the show’s cancellation, he knew he was right about what he said to her years earlier.

Gilbert says she began to cry, but Landon told her they weren’t going to start getting sad and crying. Instead, they would just enjoy the moment while they had it.

“We weren’t going to cry,” wrote Gilbert in Prairie Tale. “Instead, he pulled me toward him, and we hugged. Nothing else needed to be said. That hug was more than enough. That’s all he wanted. And that was pretty much all I was capable of.”

How Melissa Gilbert found out Michael Landon died

Gilbert had a feeling it was a matter of time before Landon died, but she was still shocked to hear the news. She says the television was on in the family room, and she was playing with her son, Dakota. All of a sudden, she heard CNN announce Landon had died.

The Little House on the Prairie star says she “may have screamed,” so her husband took their young son out of the room because he also began crying after seeing her reaction. Gilbert says she was “inconsolable” and “heartbroken.”

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