Shannen Doherty Opens Up About How ‘Little House’ Creator Michael Landon Inspired Her

Little House: A New Beginning --
Frank Carroll/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

Amid a tough cancer battle, Shannen Doherty has been looking back on her life and career in her podcast Let’s Be Clear with Shannen Doherty. In a recent episode, Doherty was joined by her mother, Rosa Elizabeth Doherty, and the pair discussed Doherty’s early career, including the highly coveted role of Jenny Wilder on the final season of Little House on the Prairie, which she got when she was just 11 years old.

Like many of her former costars, Doherty admitted that the show’s creator and star Michael Landon had a huge impact on her. “That show shaped me in so many ways and it still is the best experience of my entire career,” she revealed. “I adored him. He was a mentor. He taught me so much.”

Little House on the Prairie: A New Beginning Leslie Landon, Pamela Roylance, David Friedman, Shannen Doherty, Lindsay Kennedy, Stan Ivar, (Season 9), 1974-1983

Everett Collection

“It’s kind of amazing because, when I think about the long span of my career, but also how rough some jobs were — and unenjoyable to be a part of, a little bit toxic — it was really the experience on Little House that spurred that passion on for being an actor, and it was having a mentor like Michael Landon,” added Doherty, who is known for her roles in shows such as Charmed and Beverly Hills, 90210. “I don’t care what anybody else’s experience was like, I know the truth about that man, and he was just unbelievable.” She said that Landon was “so, so, so talented, so kind, so considerate, and it really helped shape me. And he was incredibly caring for my entire family.” In 1991, just a few years after the end of Little House, Landon died from his own cancer battle.

Little House on the Prairie Michael Landon, 1974-83

NBC/Everett Collection

In her podcast, Doherty also opened up about the harsh realities of a stage four cancer diagnosis. She said that she is working on selling her belongings to make things easier for her mother if she dies before her. Despite doing all she can to stay alive and get better, Doherty is not immune to the realities. After selling a lot of her things, she now has extra money to use for travel. “I get to take my mom on vacations because I have all this extra play money lying around,” she explained. “I’m not digging into the money that’s in my estate that’s going to make sure that everybody in my life is taken care of once I’m dead.”

Listen to Doherty’s podcast on platforms such as Spotify and Apple.

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September 2023

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