“In “Little House on the Prairie,” Michael Landon played the father par excellence.
His character, like Charles “Pa” Ingalls, was the one that his family searched for guidance and encouragement. Many of the cast admired Landon even off the screen and considered him their father figure.
Landon’s family made headlines in real life toward the end of the season. He had marital issues with his second wife, Lynn Noe, who soon put a wedge between Landon and his crew.
In 1963, Michael Landon and Lynn Noe fled,
Long before he produced and starred in Little House on the Prairie, Landon and Noe were together.
The couple reportedly met while filming an episode of Landon’s other hit show, Bonanza, according to AmoMama. Noe, born Marilyn Lynn Noe, starred in the film. Landon and Noe fell in love shortly after their first date.
In Mexico in 1963, they decided to elope and from there they began a family.
The couple had four children during their marriage – Michael Landon, Jr., Leslie Landon, Shawna Landon, and Christopher Landon.
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Landon and Noe seemed to have the ideal friendship in the beginning. The set of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ was visited frequently by Noe, and her children were close to some of the cast members. Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls on the NBC series, remembered spending time at their home with the Landon family.
She wrote in her memoir Prairie Tale, “I slept at their house and they slept at mine, often enough that they felt like my weekend family, and I thought Mike and Lynn were the most adorable, loving couple,”
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In the early 1980s, Noe and Landon’s marriage took a serious blow. Landon befriended a substitute actress named Cindy Clerico during the shooting of ‘Little House on the Prairie.’
Clerico was 28 years of age at the time and Landon was in his late 40s. However, their friendship grew and Landon fell in love with Clerico.
Eventually, he asked Noe for a divorce after 19 years of marriage.
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On May 27, 1985, a cover story about Landon was written by People. In the story, after the divorce, the paper talked to Noe about her relationship with Landon. Noe said the divorce had changed her for the better.
Noe became the person she once was by ending her marriage.
“I was too busy being the kind of wife he wanted me to be,”lost myself little by little. I made Michael my god,”lost myself little by little. I made Michael my god.”I was too busy being the kind of wife he wanted me to be.
The actress went on to say she’s not blaming her and Landon’s divorce on Clerico. She agreed that Landon was not satisfied with their marriage, Noe said.
She said, “If it wasn’t Cindy, it would have been someone else,” “He had reached that point in his life.”
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Noe’s divorce from Landon soon harmed his relationship with his daughter on-screen. In her book ‘Prairie Story,’ Gilbert wrote that Landon left Clerico for Noe and their children together.
Gilbert saw odd activity between Landon and his soon-to-be third wife prior to the split. She remembered feeling that in a divorce, she had to pick sides.
Because of her family’s loyalty to Noe, Gilbert decided to end her relationship with Landon.
“It was assumed that I could go on as usual with Mike after he left his wife,” she wrote. “I was caught in the middle while people around me were choosing sides.”
“He was building a new life for himself, one that didn’t include me. Now I understand. My family’s loyalty was to Aunt Lynn and the kids, so my relationship with Mike began to unravel.”
Gilbert and Landon met again years later at his daughter Leslie’s wedding.
Before he died of cancer in 1991, Gilbert helped care for him.