Little House on the Prairie star Michael Landon played Charles Ingalls on the NBC series. He was known for producing shows that emphasized family values. However, Landon admitted he wasn’t as perfect as the characters he portrayed on TV. He once said he “felt very guilty” about the feelings he developed for another woman while he was married.
Divorce was common on the set of ‘Little House on the Prairie’
Karen Grassle, who played Caroline “Ma” Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie, says in her book Bright Lights, Prairie Dust that divorce was common among the cast and crew. The long hours took a toll on many relationships.
According to Grassle, working on a television series can be tough on a marriage. She says there were at least four divorces during her time on the show. Grassle noticed that one of the cameramen would make sure to call his wife as often as possible. He seemed aware of the job strains, and he wanted to do what he could to prevent his relationship from disintegrating.
Michael Landon admitted he felt ‘very guilty’
During his final interview with Life magazine, Landon discussed his relationships. During his time on Little House on the Prairie, he was married to his second wife, Lynn Noe. However, when Landon met Cindy Clerico (they later married, and she became Cindy Landon), he desired to be with her. Landon said he found Cindy “fascinating.” He couldn’t take his eyes off the young woman who was a stand-in for the child actors.
“There was something about her way, her being, that was fascinating,” Landon told Life. He said he became like “a kid with a crush,” and began doing things to attract her attention. He would make silly jokes or let her know when he was going for a snow cone.
“I was like a kid with a crush and I felt very guilty for having these feelings,” said Landon. “Remember, I had a wife and five kids, and while it’s true that after 17 years my wife and I had grown apart, I was devoted to those children and still am. So, I tried to squelch my feelings for Cindy, but they only got stronger.”
Michael Landon decided to act on his feelings
Landon told Life that he began falling more in love with Cindy every day. He decided it was time to do something about his feelings. One evening, after a party on the set of Little House, he asked if he could see Cindy later. They ended up meeting at her home that night.
Landon said things “developed fast” after their meeting. He revealed he would meet her on the set and sneak kisses and hold her hand. “The more I saw her, the more I loved her,” said Landon. “It became so clear that she was the woman for me, that no matter how painful it would be for my wife and my children, I had to be with Cindy.”