The Truth Behind Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert's Relationship

Michael Landon was most famously known for portraying the part of Charles Ingalls on "Little House on the Prairie," while Melissa Gilbert was cast as his daughter, Laura. 

During her time at "Little House on the Prairie," she was nominated for five awards. She won two Young Artists Awards for Best Young Actress and one TV Lands Award. 

Gilbert auditioned for the role of Laura in the early seventies when she was just nine years old, beating more than 500 other child actors to the part. 

Melissa Gilbert always had enormous respect for Michael Landon, both as a person an as an industry professional.


In an interview with Today some ten years ago, Gilbert explained that Landon still loomed large in her life two years after her own father passed. She added

“I’ve realized his influence on me extended beyond the set. As a kid, I didn't know he sipped vodka from his coffee mug, but I'm sure he's one reason why, as a young adult, I almost always picked men who smelled like alcohol.”

She was quick to note, however, that Landon never allowed alcoholism to control his life or even affect his personality. 

Gilbert also rebelled later on life and descended into a whirlpool of sex, alcohol, and drugs, which ended in an unplanned pregnancy.


Despite the course her life had taken, Gilbert in no way blames Landon. She always had enormous respect for him, both as a person an as an industry professional. She says: 

“He was an amazing man, an amazing talent, an incredible director, actor, writer, a great boss, an incredible human being.” 

In fact, Gilbert was so close to the Landon family that she dated Landon's son, Michael Landon Jr. during her teenage years. 


Speaking to ABC News five years ago, Gilbert expanded on her connection to the Landon family and said Landon was like a father figure to her. She explained

"Our relationship was very close, and it grew even deeper when my father passed away. Our families got close. We went on vacation to Hawaii together every Easter. His son Mike Jr. was my prom date."

In addition, Melissa named her son, Michael, after Landon. 


In another interview, Gilbert said Landon was one of her first memories when she auditioned for "Little House on the Prairie." She adds: 

"I didn’t know who he was and didn’t know why everyone was making such a big fuss about him. But then he had this unbelievable glow that was captivating."

Gilbert said he made her laugh and she felt instantly comfortable during the auditions. "It was special, and it was instant," she says. 

Landon passed away in 1994 when he lost his battle with cancer of the liver and pancreas. He was only 54 years old.


Gilbert went on to build a prolific career for herself in Hollywood. She went into semi-retirement four years ago but has since returned to the industry. 

Despite her many career successes since leaving "Little House," she will always be remembered as Laura Ingalls, the little girl who asked God to take her instead of her baby brother.

Gilbert was in the news a few years ago when her divorce case and custody battle over her then 15-year-old son, Michael, went public. She filed for divorce in 2011.

She was splitting from husband Bruce Boxleitner due to irreconcilable differences. In 2013, she confirmed publicly that she was engaged to actor Timothy Busfield.

The couple tied the knot on April 24, 2013, and have been together ever since. Melissa five children – two biological and three stepchildren.

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