'Little House on the Prairie': Why 1 Cast Member Didn't Support Lynn Noe During Her Divorce From Michael Landon

In 1983, Little House on the Prairie star Michael Landon got married for the third time. The actor’s second wife, Lynn Noe, was popular around his show’s set. Many of Landon’s TV family members spent time with Noe and Landon’s children often. The closeness she shared with some of the series’ employees made the set a difficult work environment. 

While several Little House on the Prairie cast members were affected by Landon’s decision, one cast member didn’t side with Noe during the divorce. 

Michael Landon’s affair with Cindy Clerico

On Little House on the Prairie, Landon played Charles “Pa” Ingalls, the patriarch of his family. When he finished filming, Landon would often pull pranks on the child actors. Landon hurt his image as a perfect father when news broke that he divorced Noe after 19 years of marriage. Following the divorce, Landon married Cindy Clerico, who was 28. Landon was in his late 40s and had four children with Noe. 

In a 1985 interview with People, Landon addressed his relationship with Clerico. By then, the couple was married for two years. Still, the public assumed that Landon was having a mid-life crisis due to Clerico’s age. Landon confirmed his love for his new wife and said he didn’t choose her because she was younger than Noe. 

“You don’t dissolve a relationship to go to bed with someone 20 years younger,” he said. “You have to have major differences, and a deep-rooted need to stop a relationship after as many years as I was married. I would have done anything to make that relationship continue, but I could not. It’s not just difficult for the wife. It is painful for the husband too. But it is far better than letting it stay the way it was.”

Why Alison Arngrim sided with Michael Landon’s mistress

Landon’s decision to divorce Noe affected his cast members. Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls in the series, reflected on that time in her memoir, Prairie Tale. In the book, she shared that she referred to Noe as “Auntie Lynn,” and her family supported her over Landon. The divorce soon drove a wedge between Gilbert and Landon’s off-screen friendship. 

Although Landon upset Gilbert by his actions, not everyone on Little House on the Prairie had the same devastation. Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson, said she never developed a close relationship with Noe like Gilbert. She also shared that she felt connected with Clerico and supported her relationship with Landon per From The Desk. 

“The divorce was really hard for a lot of people,” she said. “I didn’t have that type of relationship with him though.  I hadn’t really hung out with Lynn that much and certainly hadn’t gone to Hawaii with them. Cindy (who later became Mrs. Landon) was close to my age. I saw her every day. We traded records and magazines and talked about going to the same rock concerts.  And to top it off, she was MY stand-in on the show!”

Alison Arngrim said Michael Landon had a ‘successful’ third marriage

In addition to not having a relationship with Noe, Arngrim said she thought Landon and Clerico would last. After they got married in 1983, the couple had two children- Jennifer and Sean. They remained together until Landon died of pancreatic cancer in 1991.

During her interview, Arngrim said Landon made the best choice for himself at the time. She then confirmed that, as of 2018, she’s still friendly with Clerico. 

“His marriage to Cindy was quite successful, with a couple more kids and everything,” Arngrim said. “Cindy has now become a major animal protection activist and has received awards like ‘Philanthropist of the Year,’ etc. (We’re friends on Facebook.)”

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