Michael Landon

Michael Landon Headshot

Actor • Director

Birth Name: Eugene Maurice Orowitz

Birth Date: October 31, 1936

Death Date: July 1, 1991

Birth Place: Forest Hills, New York

Children: Jen Landon, Michael Landon Jr., Christopher Landon

Grandchildren: Rachel Matthews

Michel Landon was an immensely popular TV star who also appeared in occasional films, including the 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 No. 1 series for seven consecutive seasons. Although he had scripted several episodes of "Bonanza," he sought complete authority over his next series, the pioneer family saga "Little House on the Prairie" (1974-82), loosely based on Laura Ingalls Wilder's autobiographical children's novels, 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 was 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.

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