'Little House on the Prairie': Melissa Gilbert on the Famous TV Writer Who Urged Her to Capitalize on Michael Landon's Death — '[He's] Not Going To Be Dead Forever'
When Michael Landon died, Melissa Gilbert was inundated with comment requests from various media outlets. After all, they had spent the better part of eight years together working closely on Little House on the Prairie. Landon was a father figure to Gilbert, who’d lost her own dad when she was young. Just when Gilbert thought she’d reached her limit with interview requests, someone gave her some “sick and twisted” advice.
Melissa Gilbert was ‘heartbroken’ when Michael Landon died
In her memoir, Prairie Tale, Gilbert writes that she was “heartbroken” when she found out that Landon died.
“My mother came over and my sister, sweet thing, brought me a milkshake,” she wrote.
It wasn’t too long before her “phone rang off the hook with requests from reporters wanting a comment.”
“It seemed everyone in the world wanted a quote,” she wrote. “Yet I was incapable of communicating.”
Finally, she gave her publicist a statement — “something about Mike’s contribution to the world and a hole in my heart.”
“Then I fell into a deep depression,” she wrote. “I stayed in bed with the shade drawn. Anytime I got up and tried to move around, it felt as if I was moving through mud. I walked around dazed in my pajamas for days.”
Her husband at the time, Bo Brinkman, brought home two puppies to help his wife get through the loss.
“He told me that with a two-year-old and two puppies, I had my hands full,” she wrote. “Bless his heart, he knew exactly how to gently get me up and moving.”
After Landon’s funeral, where Gilbert delivered one of the eulogies, “the rest of the year seemed to be taken up by requests for quotes to media outlets and shows doing Michael Landon tributes.”
Melissa Gilbert delivered a tribute for Michael Landon at the Emmy Awards
Gilbert was doing a play in Kalamazoo, Michigan when the Emmy Awards came around. She flew back to Los Angeles to deliver a tribute.
“I was upset that Mike never got an Emmy while he was alive,” she wrote. “He was never even nominated.”
But she knew it never bothered Landon.
“Mike would have told me that stuff wasn’t important, which I had learned years earlier,” she wrote. “He had his priorities straight. That’s why I responded with a quote every time a request came in.”
David Peckinpah encouraged the former Laura Ingalls actor to ‘do as many’ interviews as she could
Eventually, Gilbert “reached a point where [all the interview requests] felt like too much.”
She received yet another request one day when she was with television writer, producer, and director David Peckinpah. He had a unique take on the situation.
“I wanted to turn them down, but David urged me to think otherwise,” she wrote.
“You better do as many of these as you can,” he said, according to Gilbert. “After all, Michael Landon is not going to be dead forever.”
Gilbert had “never heard such a sick and twisted comment in [her] life.”
“It made me laugh,” she wrote. “Mike would’ve laughed, too.”
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