The character Mary Ingalls was portrayed by Melissa Sue Anderson in the NBC drama series “Little House on the Prairie.” On the “Little House” set, Landon allegedly boasted about his relationship with a teenage girl. Their connection jolted Anderson.
Following Michael Landon’s death, Melissa Sue Anderson once opened up about her friendship with him. She made several declarations of her undying love for him.
Here are the specifics of Landon and Anderson’s romance, including his extensive liaison with a woman who was years his junior.
On “Little House,” where Landon played Pa Ingalls, Anderson said he was the one who helped her the most with her career and that she learnt a lot from him:
“From him, I’ve learned everything. He’s a superhuman. He is unlike anyone I have ever met. He does everything, even writing and directing! I hope to direct TV programs one day. I’ve picked up a lot just by observing him.
When Anderson, a former child star, won her most significant role to date in “Little House” as young Mary, she was just nine years old.
The 59-year-old said she had never taken acting lessons and had only ever picked up what she needed to know through observing others and her own acting experience:
“I never took acting classes. I’ve gained knowledge from playing this role and from watching others.
Anderson struggled to fit in as she learned to live with her newfound popularity, and the general public frequently misinterpreted her. “People mistook my shyness for aloofness, the Canadian actress claimed. I did it with genuine intent. I wanted to perform well.”
The late Landon, who had already established himself as an actor and was a major television star when he created the TV series and played her Pa, was one among many who had concerns about her abilities.
Anderson attributes the producer’s tenacity and foresight for the show’s success. She claimed that because of Landon, the pilot for the show was purchased and turned into a series.
Since she was a little girl, Anderson has admired the director. She reportedly admitted to watching all of his old reruns on the canceled “Bonanza” series and unashamedly confessed her love for the then-married co-star, according to The Daily Herald in 1974.
At the time, he was 40 years old and she was 12 years old. After Landon’s passing, she made a second declaration of her love for him in her book.
Anderson had learned something more about the New Yorker. She was shocked to learn that the married man was having an affair after reading the news.
“He occasionally fell in and out of favor with me. When someone is so highly regarded by you, their failure shocks you. Additionally, I doubt I was the only one “Anderson stated.
“But it quickly taught me a valuable lesson that I had to collaborate with him every day, no matter what. I did adore my boss; he was my employer. He was like a big brother to me, a fantastic guy, and a great person in my life. I therefore had to overcome it and move on “She went on.
Landon boasted about his sex life with a teenager on the “Little House” set, according to co-star Karen Grassle who played his television wife on the program.
He gushed about the amazing results of the natural supplements he had begun consuming at that time to enhance his sex life. Grassle disclosed:
Mike started to show up joyously at the makeup counter and began bragging about how bee pollen was good for an aging male.
The cause for his boastfulness was quickly understood by the cast and crew. Landon was having an affair with Cindy Clerico, a young woman filling in for Melissa Francis, his co-star (Cassandra Cooper Ingalls). He was more than 20 years younger than the 18-year-old.
Newspapers soon noted that he had left his parents’ house and relocated to Clerico’s flat on the pier. At first, Landon argued that his infidelity was not a warning that his second marriage was about to fail.
He acknowledged that he had left his house and that his wife Lynn Noe, whom he had married in 1963, had taken their children to Spain for a holiday. At that time, divorce was not a topic of conversation.
Noe referred to that time as a “trial separation” and said it was crucial for her and Landon to evaluate their marriage again to determine where they went wrong.
In an effort to save their relationship, the former couple even planned to rekindle their vows in front of just their kids that year.
But since it never materialized, they made the decision to separate amicably. A reporter predicted that Noe, at 88, would cost her estranged husband more than $5 million in the divorce settlement in 1981.
But despite this, Landon went through with the divorce in 1982 because, in addition to catching his attention, Clerio turned out to be his soul mate. A year later, they finally got married and stayed together till his passing.
Landon divorced Noe after 19 years of marriage in favor of Clerico, who was then 28. He once dispelled the notion that the major reason he left his wife was to find a younger woman:
“You don’t end a relationship to sleep with a person who is 20 years your junior. To end a relationship after as many years as I was married, you need to have significant differences and a strong need for one another.
Meanwhile, in her book “The Way, I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House,” his admirer Anderson once made some unsettling revelations about him.
She acknowledged that based on all she had seen about Landon, he was unquestionably a terrific father. At work, it was, however, a different story.
“He was authoritarian and occasionally cruel at work. He would target out specific individuals and openly and persistently tease them, “Anderson stated.
“He might also harbor resentment. In “Little House,” he explained to me that the primary reason he chose to destroy Walnut Grove was to ensure that no one else would ever be able to use our setups “She went on.
Anderson was friends with Landon and even worked with him up until the year of his terrible death, despite all she knew about his nasty side.
Even during her 1990 nuptials to independent illustrator Michael Sloan, he was present. “He showed up for my wedding. He fell ill soon after I gave birth to my daughter. I was close to him all those years “About Landon, Anderson stated.
She was astounded by Melissa Gilbert, Landon’s TV sister, as well as their relationship. His extramarital affair ended his friendship with Gilbert.
Gilbert had a good relationship with Landon’s family, including his daughter Leslie and son Michael Jr. Barbara Crane, Gilbert’s mother, and Noe were quite close and even went on vacation together.
One day, Crane had to inform her daughter, with much sadness, that Noe and Landon were divorcing. Gilbert was upset that the leading male on television was having an affair.
The actress observed that Landon had shown especially close attention to Clerico, the makeup artist. She had no idea, though, that Landon would desert his wife for “that makeup girl,” as many of the cast members called her.
Gilbert did not communicate with Landon at all following the cancellation of “Little House” in 1974 until she grudgingly contacted him while watching her father on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” (1962).
After the call, Gilbert, now 57, went to Landon’s house and took care of him there until he passed away. On July 1, 1991, the father of nine passed away. A week later, former “Little House” executive producer Kent McCray called Gilbert and asked her to give one of the eulogies at the funeral.
She immediately consented, but oddly, the starlet added, “The second I hung up, I regretted it.” There wasn’t much to say about Landon, so Gilbert focused on what she would say about him.
The night before the funeral, the California native finally found the words to write down after attempting to describe their connection.
Landon passed away at the age of 54 from pancreatic cancer. The circumstances surrounding his death were looked at almost three decades later.
In June 2020, Survivonet.com published an article about a new documentary that showed Landon might have contracted the illness at the “Little House” site.
The television documentary “Reelz Channel’s Autopsy: The Last Hours of…” examines the demises of several celebrities. As a potential contributor to Landon’s cancer, the “Little House” setting was investigated.
A nuclear reactor partially melted down at Santa Susana Nuclear Laboratory in 1959; the series was shot there for nine years, according to a narrator on the sneak peek of the episode.
Scientists found that the facility had been the scene of the biggest nuclear disaster in US history and that years of contamination had caused a cancer epidemic at the time, when hundreds of locals began developing cancer.