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Michael Landon

Michael Landon

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Also Known As: Eugene Maurice Orowitz, Michael Lane Died: July 1, 1991
Born: October 31, 1936 Cause of Death: pancreatic cancer
Birth Place: Forest Hills, New York, USA Profession: actor, screenwriter, producer, director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Boyishly handsome, immensely popular TV star who appeared in occasional films, including the now-camp classic "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" (1957). Landon made his name as the romantic, impulsive youngest Cartwright brother, Little Joe, on the long-running hit "Bonanza" (1959-73), the first TV western broadcast in color and the number one series for seven consecutive seasons. Although he had scripted several episodes of "Bonanza", he sought complete authority over his next series, the wholesome family saga "Little House on the Prairie" (1974-82), in which he starred as frontier homesteader Charles Ingalls. Landon created the series and often directed and scripted episodes, which he imbued with his views on "faith" and "family". Landon next produced and starred as Jonathan, the probationary angel whose mission is to bring love and understanding to people in trouble, on "Highway to Heaven" (1984-88). He also produced, wrote and directed the TV series "Father Murphy" and numerous TV movies including "The Loneliest Runner (1976), based on incidents in his own life, and the autobiographical feature film "Sam's Son" (1984), about a champion javelin thrower. Landon died from pancreatic cancer after a long,...

Boyishly handsome, immensely popular TV star who appeared in occasional films, including the now-camp classic "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" (1957). Landon made his name as the romantic, impulsive youngest Cartwright brother, Little Joe, on the long-running hit "Bonanza" (1959-73), the first TV western broadcast in color and the number one series for seven consecutive seasons. Although he had scripted several episodes of "Bonanza", he sought complete authority over his next series, the wholesome family saga "Little House on the Prairie" (1974-82), in which he starred as frontier homesteader Charles Ingalls. Landon created the series and often directed and scripted episodes, which he imbued with his views on "faith" and "family".

Landon next produced and starred as Jonathan, the probationary angel whose mission is to bring love and understanding to people in trouble, on "Highway to Heaven" (1984-88). He also produced, wrote and directed the TV series "Father Murphy" and numerous TV movies including "The Loneliest Runner (1976), based on incidents in his own life, and the autobiographical feature film "Sam's Son" (1984), about a champion javelin thrower. Landon died from pancreatic cancer after a long, prominently media-covered but nonetheless dignified struggle at the age of 54.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Us (1991) Director
2.
  Where Pigeons Go to Die (1990) Director
3.
  Sam's Son (1984) Director
4.
  Killing Stone (1978) Director
5.
  Loneliest Runner, The (1976) Director
6.
7.
  It's Good to Be Alive (1974) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Us (1991) Jeff Hayes
2.
 Where Pigeons Go to Die (1990) Hugh Baudoum--Age 50
3.
 Sam's Son (1984) Gene Orman
4.
 Love Is Forever (1983) John Everingham
5.
 Comeback (1982) John Everingham
6.
 Loneliest Runner, The (1976) John Curtis--As An Adult
7.
 Little House on the Prairie (1974) Charles Ingalls
8.
 The Errand Boy (1961)
9.
 The Legend of Tom Dooley (1959) Tom Dooley
10.
 Maracaibo (1958) Lago [Orlando]
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Discovered by a Warner Bros. executive and encouraged to enter acting school
1956:
Made film debut in "These Wilder Years"
1957:
First TV appearance, "Cavalcade of America" (ABC)
1957:
First significant acting role, "I Was a Teenage Werewolf"
1959:
Made starring role debut in a series as Little Joe Cartwright on "Bonanza" (NBC); also wrote and directed episodes
:
Directed, produced, scripted and starred in own TV series, "Highway to Heaven"
1991:
Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (April)
1962:
Released a Bonanza-related single, "Gimme A Little Kiss/Be Patient With Me" on Columbia Records
1974:
Portrayed Charles Ingalls on the long-running NBC series, "Little House on the Prairie"; also executive produced, wrote and directed
1974:
Directed first TV-movie, "It's Good To Be Alive" (CBS)
1981:
Created the series, "Father Murphy" (NBC); also wrote and directed episodes
1982:
Executive produced but did not star in "Little House: A New Beginning" (NBC)
1983:
Reprised role of Charles Ingalls for three "Little House on the Prairie" (NBC) made-for-television movies; also executive produced
1984:
Wrote and directed first feature, "Sam's Son"; also co-starred in the film
1984:
Returned to series TV as Jonathan Smith, a probationary angel, in "Highway to Heaven" (NBC); also executive produced, wrote and directed
1990:
Wrote and directed the TV-movie, "Where Pigeons Go to Die" (NBC) starring Art Carney
1991:
Final film before his death, the CBS TV-movie, "Us"; also wrote, produced and directed
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Collingswood High School: Collingswood , New Jersey -
University of Southern California: Los Angeles , California -

Notes

"I want people to laugh and cry, not just sit and stare at the TV. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I think viewers are hungry for shows in which people say something meaningful." --Michael Landon ("The Complete Directory to Primetime TV Stars", 1987)

"Throughout his life, Landon had been able to turn trauma into triumph. He'd survived growing up with a weak father, a dranged mother, an unstable sister, the anti-Semitism that hounded him in Collingwood, New Jersey. He decided early that he would never take any crap from anybody. And he didn't." --Mark Morrison in TV Time, July 20-26, 1991)

Landon became addicted to tranquilizers due to the stress of "Bonanza"'s success and later was able to rehabilitate.

He was a active in "Make a Wish Foundation" for children with terminal diseases.

Founded the Michael Landon Tennis Classic in Tucson to benefit Arizona charities (c. 1981).

Inducted into Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1995

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Dodie Landon. Legal secretary. Married 1956; divorced 1962; six years Landon's senior; born 1930; remarried in 1976 (new married name Dodie Lake).
wife:
Lynn Landon. Model. Married 1963; divorced 1982.
wife:
Cindy Landon. Make-up artist. Married 1983; born c. 1957; survived him.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Eli Maurice Orowitz. East Coast studio publicist, theater manager. Jewish; worked for Paramount until clients moved to West Coast; later in life managed a Hollywood theater; deceased.
mother:
Peggy Orowitz. Actor, Broadway comedienne. Catholic.
son:
Mark Landon. Adopted during Landon's first marriage; born c. 1959; was Dodie Fraser's son.
son:
Josh Landon. Born c. 1959; adopted during Landon's first marriage to Dodie Fraser.
son:
Jason Smith. Born May, 1961; adopted in 1961 during Landon's first marriage to Dodie Fraser; given up by Dodie Landon after divorce from Michael Landon in 1962 to new adoptive parents Bill and Alma Smith.
step-daughter:
Cheryl Landon. Lynn Noe's daughter from previous marriage; born c 1953.
son:
Michael Landon Jr. Actor. Born c. 1964; mother Lynn Noe; made a 12-minute presentation film for new, syndicated "Bonanza" series in 1992.
daughter:
Leslie Ann Landon. Family therapist. Born c. 1962; mother Lynn Noe.
daughter:
Shawna Leigh Landon. Born c. 1971; mother Lynn Noe.
son:
Christopher Beau Landon. Born c. 1976; mother Lynn Noe; publicly disclosed his homosexuality in a cover story in THE ADVOCATE (December 7, 1999).
daughter:
Jennifer Landon. Mother Cindy Clerico.
son:
Sean Landon. Born c. 1986; mother Cindy Clerico.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Michael Landon: Life, Love and Laughter"

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