Remembering Michael Landon ....
Lucy Lee Flippin
My strongest memories of Little House and Michael are when I auditioned for Eliza Jane Wilder and the first day I worked on the show. Susan Sukman McCray, the terrific casting director, told me to yank my hair back and wear no makeup when I came in to read for Michael. So there in the corner of a very snug meeting room at MGM in Culver City was Michael, in his jeans, boots with that hair, so relaxed and charming. I read once, he gave me an adjustment, I did the scene again and then left. He was very warm and gracious, but brief. Because he was an actor, he knew how to treat actors. Two weeks went by before I heard – I was delirious!
The first day in Simi Valley was amazing in spite of the heat, the heavy costume, the hot iron to curl my hair, the incredibly tight bun, and the coke-bottle glasses that blinded me. In my first shot I was to walk down the main street from the schoolhouse – I heard Michael yell “walk over here, Sugar!” I kept looking behind me. He kept yelling. I kept looking behind me at no one. Finally, I said: “Am I ‘Sugar’?” He said “yes.” (I was waiting for “Action!” or at least my real name.) I was so embarrassed. It was weird. My father, a Virginian, used to call me “Sugar.”
Michael had a devilish sense of humor – he kept everyone “loose” on the set. I found it very difficult to keep a straight face when acting with him.
He was the most disciplined professional. He could be edgy. He worked hard and steady. He was a truly, immensely savvy visionary. He could calibrate what American television viewers would embrace. And he was responsible for giving me the most awesome role of my career.
From the Little House on the Prairie episode "The Werewolf of Walnut Grove"
From the Little House on the Prairie two-part episode "Laura Ingalls Wilder"
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