Little House on the Prairie meant so much to so many fans when it originally aired — and it continues to win generations of new fans over the years. When asked about the show’s legacy, Melissa Gilbert shared a Laura Ingalls Wilder quote that she said expressed it perfectly.
‘Little House on the Prairie’ was canceled
Little House on the Prairie had a good run but it was canceled after nine seasons. The cancelation came as a surprise to Gilbert and Michael Landon, who played her father on the series, since neither was notified by the network.
During a 2011 interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Gilbert shared the surprising way she found out that Little House on the Prairie was canceled.
“I found out the show was canceled when [co-star] Victor French called me out of the blue and said ‘I’m going to go on Dinah Shore and I’m going to protest the cancellation, do you want to come with me?,’” Gilbert explained.
“And I went, ‘Protest the cancelation of what?,’ and he said ‘The show, it’s canceled,’” she added.
Melissa Gilbert was ready to end the show
While they weren’t notified about the cancelation in the best way, Gilbert found some relief in being done with the series.
“Honestly at this point I was ready for it to end because I was ready to sort of get on with my life,” she explained, adding, “It wasn’t a career decision” but rather, she wanted more freedom to be a young adult.
“I was dating then, I was in love with somebody, I was starting to travel with a whole different crowd of friends. I wanted the freedom to do things, I wanted to be able to cut my hair however I wanted to, I wanted to be able to act out and do crazy things and fly to New York for the weekend, and drink champagne, and be an adolescent girl,” she explained.
“I didn’t want to wear lace-up boots and petticoats anymore. And then they told me I couldn’t, and then I wanted to,” Gilbert added.
While the series had been canceled, they were able to wrap up the show with three special movies.
A Laura Ingalls Wilder quote perfectly explains the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ legacy
Gilbert was also asked what she thinks the Little House on the Prairie legacy is and shed some light on its popularity over the years.
“It’s hard to say what … when I hear the word ‘legacy’ I think of something that was left behind,” Gilbert noted. Because Little House “lives on,” she said, “It’s still there and it still has that same meaning.”
“It’s supremely entertaining without dumbing down,” she continued. “I think it’s one of the few shows families can sit together and watch and everybody gets something out of it.”
“It reminds us of, actually, what Laura Ingalls Wilder said: ‘It’s the sweet simple things in life that are best,’” Gilbert said.
“I think Little House on the Prairie, the television series, is one of those sweet simple things. It’s the ultimate TV comfort food. You know, when you don’t feel well and you’re home in your jammies and you turn on the TV, that’s what you want to watch,” the actor added.
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