Karen Grassle, former star of Little House on the Prairie, revealed what she experienced as a cast member. She discussed her relationship with Michael Landon and some of the conversations they had toward the end of his life. Grassle also mentioned an interview Landon did where he discussed his health and how he had “abused” his body. Here’s what Landon said about his health.
Karen Grassle kept in touch with Michael Landon
Landon and Grassle had a tense work relationship because of her contract dispute, but they managed to forgive each other years later. Roughly one year after Grassle left Little House on the Prairie, she received a phone call from Landon. He wanted her to be in Little House on the Prairie: The Last Farewell. She agreed to return for the special, which would be the last installment of the show’s spinoffs.
About five years after that, in 1990, Grassle reached out to Landon to update him on her life. After receiving her letter, he wrote back and invited her to call him so they could catch up. He told her about his third wife, Cindy Landon, and their children, Jennifer and Sean. A year after that phone call, Grassle heard the news about Landon’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
Michael Landon said he ‘abused’ his body
Landon discussed his pancreatic cancer battle in his final interview with Life magazine. He admitted to not caring for his body properly. “I’ve abused my body over the years,” said Landon in his Life interview. “Though I was never a drunk, I drank too much. I also smoked too many cigarettes and ate a lot of the wrong things. And if you do that, even if you think you’re too strong to get anything, somehow you’re going to pay.”
Landon also mentioned he got very little sleep. He compared his body to a “machine” that works long hours without getting tired.” Landon said his wife, Cindy, had tried for a long time to convince him to change his diet. “For years she’s been bugging me to eat right,” said Landon. “Well, now she’s got me where she wants me—at the juicer.”
Michael Landon regretted not taking better care of his body
In Conversations with Michael Landon, by author Tom Ito, Landon said he wanted to produce more TV movies and short projects so he could focus more on his health. However, he admitted he had to work on eliminating his “terrible vices.”
“[Short projects] have given me a chance to get back to what I needed to do, and that’s physically take care of myself,” Landon told Ito. Landon wanted to exercise more and do things that made him feel healthier. His vices made it difficult to stick to his goals, but he joked he didn’t want to live to be 95 because he just wanted to look good in front of the camera. Landon died on July 1, 1991, at the age of 54.