Alison Arngrim Said Michael Landon Was Not Like Prairie Pa But ‘Dangerous To Know’

Nov 25, 2021 by apost team

Michael Landon was an American actor, writer, director, and producer, best known for his television roles — primarily Little Joe on "Bonanza" and Charles Ingalls on "Little House On The Prairie." The actor was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1995 and has appeared on the cover of TV Guide 22 times — a feat only accomplished previously by Lucille Ball. 

Landon has been recognized for his writing abilities as well as for his acting. His script for the "Bonanza" episode "Forever" was considered one of the most memorable television specials of all time by TV Guide in 2002. The script featured an emotional recalling of the beloved character Hoss, portrayed by Dan Blocker prior to his passing. Landon began directing the show in 1968.

The star used much of what he learned from writing and directing on "Bonanza" when he worked on "Little House On The Prairie." Landon was also incredibly loyal to the people he worked with, including producer Kent McCray, director William F. Claxton and composer David Rose who all worked with Landon on "Bonanza," "Little House On The Prairie" and "Highway to Heaven."

Outside of his career, Landon had a large family. He was married three times and had nine children. His first marriage was to Dodie Levy-Fraser, his second to Marjorie Lynn Noe, and his third wife was Cindy Clerico. Despite the tumultuous nature of some of the relationships, most ended amicably. His last marriage ended with his death in 1991 from pancreatic cancer.

Despite his reputation as a wholesome father, due to his role on “Little House on the Prairie,” actresses who worked with Landon said he was very different in real life. Read on to learn more about Landon and why Alison Arngrim called him “dangerous to know.”

Charlotte Stewart, Alison Arngrim (1977), (NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images)

As the '50s were on their way out, Landon landed what would become one of his most iconic roles — Little Joe Cartwright on "Bonanza." The show became a huge success as one of the first series to be broadcast in color. Landon appeared on all 14 seasons of the show, which ran from 1959 to 1973. Rather than taking some time off when the show ended, Landon booked a major role in another iconic series, "Little House on the Prairie." 

Apart from his professional life, Landon was also known for his somewhat tumultuous personal life. He was married to Dodie Levy-Fraser in 1956, at the time he was beginning his acting career. The couple adopted two children together, Mark and Josh, but they eventually divorced in 1962.

It is believed that Landon had begun seeing his second wife, Lynn Noe, that same year. Noe was an American actress best known for her time on the television series "The Mike Douglas Show." Noe and Landon initially met on the set of "Bonanza." They were married in 1963, the year after the birth of their first child together, Leslie Ann. Landon chose to adopt Noe’s daughter from her first marriage when the couple got married. The pair then went on to have three more children, Michael Jr., Shawna Leigh, and Christopher Beau. The couple divorced in 1982.

Landon's third marriage was to Cindy Clerico, a producer who first met Landon when she was working as a makeup artist on the set of "Little House On The Prairie." She was 18 at the time. Clerico and Landon were married the same year their daughter Jennifer was born, in 1983. In 1986, Clerico and Landon had another child, a son named Sean. They were together until his death in 1991.

Michael Landon (circa 1990), (Kypros/Getty Images)

There are many rumors about how Landon would behave on the set of “Little House on the Prairie.” Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie, spoke out on her own experiences with Landon. 

The actress said to Daily Mail, “I got along with him very well, but I have always said he was an extraordinarily eccentric, marvelous and crazy person. People think of him as this wholesome farmer but he was more mad, bad and dangerous to know. He drank, smoked and did tell terrible jokes.”  

She continued, “He drove a Ferrari so he was hardly Charles Ingalls. He was married three times. But he was also hilariously funny and enormously talented. He was very, very driven. And that kind of driven, manic creative energy to that level 24/7, I imagine can drive a lot of people absolutely crazy.”

Arngrim admits that Landon’s behavior could be considered offensive or inappropriate to some people. “I was a teenager and thought it was a riot. He was not everyone's cup of tea, that is absolutely true,” she explained.

Arngrim’s co-star, Karen Grassle, who played Ma Ingalls, claimed in her upcoming autobiography that Landon would make rude jokes about her. Arngrim didn’t deny this and stated, “The reality is it was the 1970s. It was like Mad Men. It was another era and an old boy's club.”

Backing up Grassle’s claims, Arngrim said she found the woman’s memoir to be accurate. She shared:

“She is very fair. When you read the book, she talks about her own alcoholism issues and everything she went through. She says at one point had she gotten sober earlier and dealt with her issues, she probably would have sat down with him and worked it all out.”

Michael Landon (circa 1970), (Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

What do you think of these claims about Michael Landon? Did you watch “Little House on the Prairie?” Let us know and be sure to send this along to your friends and family.

Please scroll below for more stories