Interview With Cindy Landon
*Questions Asked By
Entertainment Tonight Staff Member*
In October of 1998, Entertainment Tonight had the wonderful privileges of doing an Interview with Michael Landon's late wife Cindy Landon. Here is the entire Interview in its entirety. (ET stands for Entertainment Tonight)
ET: How did you become a part of the "Little House on the Prairie" Cast, with Michael?
Cindy: That's an interesting question. I had worked on the show for three years. I was a stand-in for Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls) in the beginning and those were some of the greatest years of my life. It was just great being on the set and working with the people. It was a fantastic experience. We were like a family. I enjoyed going to work everyday. We watch the show today. My son turns it on at 6:00 am before he goes to school. It was a great time in my life.
ET: Do you watch Little House on the Prairie, now?
Cindy: Yes, I know that "Little House," today is on three times a day.
ET: For so many people, it was maybe safe for some people.
Cindy: It was wholesome. It had good, basic values. It was a great show and I know that my daughter will be the first to say that her peers today don't know the show, but she watches it. That's what I get back from her. It's nice to know.
ET: They may not be watching it now, but I know it will still be on when she's a mom. I think all of her friends at that point will says its fabulous programming for our children. I feel that it will live forever.
Cindy: The parents know it. The kids don't know it.
ET: Is it hard for you to watch "Little House" now?
Cindy: I think initially it was. There were two ways of looking at it. Initially looking at it was difficult because it was so new. Today, it's more to watch it and hear Michael's voice. It's comforting. It's not difficult to watch today. I remember there were times that I would turn the TV on so I could hear his voice and I could see him. It's interesting because a lot of people lose somebody and they're gone. With Michael, he's always there. He never ages. That is nice. We are able to have a part of him and my children are able to watch his shows and have a part of their father.
ET: I think I realized recently my father's been gone for twelve years, when I couldn't remember what his voice sounded like.
Cindy: "Bonanza" is on, "Little House" is on, "Highway to Heaven" is now back on the air. It's incredible. I don't think even he even realized how important his shows were to his fans. I really don't. I know that when Michael was sick with Cancer and this house was filled with boxes of letters from people wishing him well, he would sit and read the letters. He himself was in awe, he himself was surprised at how much attention he was getting.
ET: I'm the kind of person who appreciates all that television and movies do for us. I don't think I've ever written a fan letter. But when I heard that Michael Landon was ill, it really upset me.
Cindy: Well, did you grow up watching him?
ET: I grew up watching him.
Cindy: See, and that's why you feel a connection with these people.
ET: Not just that I grew up watching him, I grew up watching him and again it was because of the shows that he did-- always feeling safe and comfortable. I connected with his characters or what his characters were saying or doing because that was what my household was like, so it felt really familiar. I mean, I can't even imagine how many letters you had.
Cindy: It was incredible.
ET: What is it that you miss the most about Michael?
Cindy: There are so many things. I'm sorry, can we stop for a moment?
ET: Okay, we'll try that one again. There must be so many wonderful memories. What do you miss most about Michael?
Cindy: It isn't one thing in particular. It was everything about Michael. He was strong, he was sensitive. He was extremely funny, which a lot of people don't know that part of him they never saw that side. He was an extraordinary father and husband. He was brilliant. What do I miss about Michael? I would say everything. Everything.
ET: I think that father comes to mind for most people because there are, what, nine children?
Cindy: Nine children.
ET: I am sure the kids loved Michael.
Cindy: Michael was a great father. Kids loved Michael. He actually felt more comfortable around children sometimes than he did adults. I think that he felt that he could just be himself and be much more relaxed, because the kids didn't expect anything from him. We would be at a party and Michael would be off in another room with the children, entertaining and being crazy.
ET: And children are just so open and honest.
Cindy: Michael could be that way too. He was extremely honest, which I understand. There are some things about Michael which I understand more today than I even did back then. Maybe it's as we mature, as we go through things on our own, we learn to understand certain things. And like it or not, Michael could be brutally honest.
ET: How, are you doing? How are the kids doing?
Cindy: The kids are doing great. Things are good. I have a 15 and a 12-year old. Being a single parent now, that Michael has died is certainly something that takes a lot of time and commitment, and is so important and not having that father figure anymore is hard. Being a single parent is something that no one could prepare for.
ET: I'm glad that you say that he was touched by all the letters. That if he didn't know before he was ill, that he knew then how people felt about him.
Cindy: In Michael's eyes, he was just a worker. He was somebody who went to work and this is what he did for a living. Michael was not a star. He never saw himself that way, he never saw himself as special. He was just a man doing what he loved doing. He really did love it. He had extraordinary amounts of energy. This is a man that could sleep four or five hours a night, wake up in the morning happy and go off to work. Then he would come home singing with bags of groceries just incredible. And he never brought his work back to the house.
ET: He was special.
Cindy: He was special. He had the ability to really affect people in a really positive way and always get them to see the positive side of life.
ET: The last few days of Michael's life, how were they?
Cindy: They were very intense. Incredibly hard. He was home. It was extremely difficult. I mean, you're with the person that you love more than anything in the world, and the reality then does set in. It finally hits you that this person is no longer going to be in your life. And the family was all here and it was really painful and extremely hard to be in that situation. But he was laughing and making jokes up until the last minute. The last moments before he passed away, he was coherent. He would go in and out and then he passed away. But he still had a sense of humor. There was never self-pity for himself. Because of the way Michael was, it enabled all of us around him to be stronger. He did write me some letters and he did write me a wish book of things that he would like to see me do with the children.
ET: That's a beautiful thing. What were his wishes for you?
Cindy: Michael had said that he wanted to see me re-marry. To get married again and have a great life and be happy.
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