‘Little House on the Prairie’: How “abject” violence in Michael Landon’s childhood influenced actor


The legacy on television of the late Michael Landon is characterized by the classic and life-affirming shows in which he was associated, Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven.

With his depiction of Charles and Caroline Ingalls, he and actress Karen Grassle set the norm of child-rearing, and their on-screen children enjoyed a loving upbringing.

“His childhood was “completely awful” for Landon himself, according to a Little House co-star. His talent and artistry as an actor, director and producer, this performer claims, were born out of the trauma.

Here’s what they would have said.

Landon’s childhood was painful and sad.

His mother was “mentally unstable” and “often tried to commit suicide in front of him.” according to Landon’s daughter, Cheryl.

Alison Arngrim, co-star of Landon, who played Nellie Oleson in the film, described how the dysfunction of the parents of the actor turned into a religious battle.

His dad was a Jewish believer and his mother was a Christian.

In her book Confessions of a Prairie B*tch, Arngrim wrote during their marriage that the actor endured a childhood marked by “religious conflict, including ugly fights over how he should be raised.”

The lack of warmth between his mother and her son was defined by Arngrim, which was especially evident in her response to Landon’s bed-wetting problem.

“Michael wet the bed,” wrote Arngrim. “His mother punished him viciously for it, even though it was a medical problem and not under his control.”

“because she knew the school bus stopped right outside her house.”because she knew the school bus stopped just outside her house.

Landon would get up as early as possible “to take the sheets down the street to the local laundromat and wash them, then come back home without his mother knowing.” to stop his mother humiliating him.

Reportedly, Landon’s mother objected to his religion.

Michael Landon died weeks after his difficult-to-see appearance on the ‘Tonight Show’ by Johnny Carson

Arngrim wrote that she “heard on the set of [Little House]” that the mother of Landon objected to her son adopting the Jewish religion of his father.

“When [Michael] finally got to celebrate a bar mitzvah, his mother pulled him out of the room during the party and mockingly said, ‘I just want you to know that I had you baptized when you were a baby.’ So this is all just a big joke!'” Arngrim said.

When she read that story, she said she “felt terrible for [Landon]” and Arngrim noted that the irony was not lost on her that “he was now standing here in church every week with Reverend Alden, happily singing Onward Christian Soldiers.” How could that have been for him in the world? ”

The temper of Landon was explained by his difficult upbringing

Landon eventually shared the story of his difficult beginnings in his television film The Loneliest Runner. Mary Ingalls actress Melissa Sue Anderson joined him.

Being part of the project and hearing the story of Landon made her better understand him, as Anderson describes in her book, The Way I See It: A Look Back at Little House’s My World.

From what I saw, Mike was a great father,” she said. “But at work, he was controlling and sometimes he could be rude. He would mark out those individuals and openly and constantly tease them. ‘I said that Mike was insecure,’ wrote the Little House alum. “Perhaps The Loneliest Runner explains why. … He grew up in an environment of fear and cruelty. … I attribute that behavior directly to how he grew up. I don’t think anyone comes out of a childhood like that unscathed and without severe trauma to the psyche.”


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