Little House on the Prairie legend Michael Landon (†54) died much too early in 1991.
The loss struck the hearts of thousands of fans. Landon's colleagues from his popular series also had to cope with the tragedy. Landon's screen daughter Melissa Gilbert, who played "Laura Ingalls," described in her biography how she felt afterward.
Melissa Gilbert after Little House co-star Michael Landon died
In a total of nine Little House seasons, Landon and Gilbert played the "Ingalls" father and daughter. The kind Landon was also a father figure in Gilbert's life, so his passing understandably hit pretty hard. "I was heartbroken," Gilbert wrote in her biography Prairie Tale.
Melissa learned the tragic news while watching television. The shock ran deep for the actress, and reporters wanted her to comment, which only made it more difficult. "It seemed everyone in the world wanted a quote. Yet I was incapable of communicating," she wrote.
The "Laura Ingalls" actress eventually made an official statement that said she had fallen "into a deep depression" following the loss.
Gilbert's first husband Bo Brinkman brought two new puppies into the house as a distraction. With that, and with her 2-year-old son, Melissa was able to forget her pain a little.
At Landon's funeral, the now 57-year-old even made a speech. Although it wasn't easy for her, grieving with Landon's family was cathartic. Gilbert recalled:
"There was a lot of hugging and crying, but there was also a lot of laughter as we all shared stories about Mike’s fantastic sense of humor.
"It was very comforting to be around people who'd known Mike so well and loved him as much as I did, if not more." Michael Landon has not been forgotten to this day!