Michael Landon Poster

Trivia (105)

Children: Mark Fraser Landon (adopted-born October 1, 1958); aka Mark Landon) and Josh Fraser Landon (adopted as newborn in 1960-born February 11, 1960) with Dodie Levy-Fraser. Leslie Ann Landon (born 11 October 1963; aka Leslie Landon), Michael Graham Landon (born June 20, 1965; aka Michael Landon Jr.), Shawna Leigh Landon (born December 4, 1971; aka Shawna Landon) and Christopher Beau Landon (born February 27, 1975; Christopher Landon) with Lynn Noe and Jennifer Rachel Landon (born August 29, 1983; aka Jennifer Landon) and Sean Matthew Landon (born June 1986) with Cindy Landon. He also had a stepdaughter, Cheryl Ann Pontrelli.

Following his death, he was interred at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Actress Melissa Gilbert's son Michael (born 1995) was named after him.

His birthplace, Forest Hills, is a neighborhood area in Queens, New York.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy Reagan, attended Landon's memorial service the day after his death.

Inducted (as a cast member of Little House on the Prairie (1974)) into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1998.

Always claimed to have chosen his professional name by picking the name Michael Landon out of the Los Angeles telephone directory.

His father, Eli Maurice Orowitz, was a studio publicist and theater manage;, his mother, Peggy Kathleen O'Neill Orowitz, was a popular comedienne and dancer.

His father was from a Jewish family and his mother was of Irish Catholic background.

Never legally adopted his stepdaughter, Cheryl, because of her birth father's objections.

Won the freshman javelin toss at the University of Southern California-Los Angeles.

Comedian and ex-talk show host, Johnny Carson was a longtime friend of his and had (in private) always confided in Landon and shared his own issues with him.

Before his death, he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) to talk about his brave battle against cancer and his life and this was the highest-rated show of all time.

He was attending USC on an athletic scholarship but tore his shoulder ligaments, which would prevent him from throwing the javelin again.

His last wife was former make-up artist Cindy Clerico, whom he met near the end of the "Little House" run in 1981, and married two years later.

Grew up in southern New Jersey in the town of Collingswood.

Charles Ingalls, Landon's character on Little House on the Prairie (1974), was ranked #4 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" [June 20, 2004 issue].

Studied karate under Chuck Norris, as did the children of his Bonanza (1959) co-star Dan Blocker.

Before he became a successful actor, he worked in a warehouse and at a gas station.

Had starred with Victor French on two of his successful television series: Little House on the Prairie (1974) and Highway to Heaven (1984).

His second wife, Marjorie Lynn Noe, was one of the few people who refused to attend his funeral, because, as she told her children, the divorce had already been like a death to her.

When he filed for divorce from Lynn, it cost him $26 million. Though he gave her his $3.5-million, 35-room Beverly Hills mansion, this bitter divorce was a devastating blow for Lynn, who stated on television after his death that her ex-husband had become her angel (April 16, 1981).

In 1954, he was the national high school record holder in the javelin throw.

Wrote and directed two movies that were semi-autobiographical: The Loneliest Runner (1976) and Sam's Son (1984).

12 years after his death, his eldest sister, Evelyn, died on New Years' Day, 2003.

He smoked four packs of unfiltered Menthol cigarettes a day starting around 1961, which probably contributed to the pancreatic cancer that killed him.

His stepdaughter, Cheryl, recalled in his biography, "I Promised My Dad", that once Landon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he realized that all the years of smoking, drinking and eating an unhealthy diet had taken their toll. Later, despite going on a regimen that included a naturalistic approach to the cancer (coffee enemas and a healthy diet), Landon was devastated to learn that the cancer had tripled in size.

He was left-handed, and his awkward handwriting (he often hand-wrote scripts) sometimes made it difficult for his secretary to read what he had written).

Despite only being given a 3-5 per cent chance of survival, Landon announced he was going to beat his pancreatic cancer. However, by the time of the diagnosis, the cancer had already spread to his liver and stomach.

Wore lifts on Bonanza (1959) so he would not be dwarfed by considerably taller co-stars Dan Blocker and Lorne Greene.

Like his Bonanza (1959) co-star Lorne Greene, Landon was a staunch supporter of the Republican Party.

Michael Landon passed away on July 1, 1991, almost four months away from what would have been his 55th birthday on October 31.

Attended and graduated third from the bottom of his class at Collingswood High School in Collingswood New Jersey (1954). Had an I.Q. of 159.

He was buried at the same cemetery as his television father, Lorne Greene (Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery, Culver City, California).

Best remembered by the public for his role as Little Joe Cartwright on Bonanza (1959) and for his starring role as Charles Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie (1974).

Brian Keith and Ernest Borgnine attended his funeral.

Was very good friends with: Shirley Jones, Karen Grassle, Robert Fuller, James Drury, Doug McClure, Larry Hagman, Bill Bixby, Michele Lee, Brian Keith, Wink Martindale, Buddy Ebsen, James Arness, Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Don Knotts, Dick Van Dyke, Chuck Connors, Dabbs Greer, Dan Blocker, Robert Conrad, Ronald Reagan, Johnny Carson, Kent McCray, William F. Claxton, Mariette Hartley, Connie Stevens, Abby Dalton, Ruta Lee, Lorne Greene, Victor Sen Yung, Richard Mulligan, Moses Gunn, Bob Eubanks, Lew Ayres, Ernest Borgnine, Charlotte Stewart, Bonnie Bartlett, Merlin Olsen, Victor French, Mickey Rooney, William Schallert and Richard Bull.

His daughter Leslie Landon attended the same middle school as his future Little House on the Prairie (1974), co-star, Melissa Gilbert. Leslie heard Gilbert in the school cafeteria say that she was going to play Laura Ingalls.

Encouraged his children, not to make the same mistake he had made when he was a teenager. As a result, his children were told to study, without watching television. He made an exception, however, for Little House on the Prairie (1974).

Landon had appeared in almost every episode of Little House on the Prairie (1974), from 1974 to 1982, with the exception of the final year. He appeared in 177 of the 204 episodes of the series.

Little House on the Prairie (1974), co-star, Karen Grassle once said in an interview that Landon had a very lonely childhood as a result of his parents fighting.

Had a great deal of hobbies during the prime of his life: fishing, karate, golfing, swimming, spending time with his family, painting, cooking, playing bridge, playing with disabled people and weightlifting.

He once invited Shirley Jones to an art exhibit.

After his second divorce and the cancellation of Little House on the Prairie (1974), Melissa Gilbert did not keep in touch with Landon at all, until she reluctantly called him, after watching her television father on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962). After the call, she went to the Landon home and was his caregiver until his death.

His adoptive son, Mark Landon, died in May 2009 at age 60.

His final series Highway to Heaven (1984) was canceled at the end of the fifth season, because of low ratings.

Attended Ronald Reagan's second inauguration as Governor of California on January 3, 1971, and his first inauguration as President of the United States on January 20, 1981.

Publicly supported Richard Nixon in the 1972 presidential election, and campaigned for Ronald Reagan in the 1980 and 1984 presidential elections.

Left an estate worth $100 million.

On May 21, 1991, he had a near fatal blood clot in his left leg that was successfully treated at Cedars-Sinai Hospital.

Encouraged by his wife, Landon quit smoking in summer 1989 following his friend Victor French's death.

Almost got the lead role on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959), which went to Dwayne Hickman.

Was raised near the same city as Bill Cosby.

Was a commercial spokesperson for the public service message, Pharmacists Against Drug Abuse, in the early 1980s.

Michael and his first wife Dodie were adopting a son named Jason in 1961. Shortly before or after their divorce in 1962, Dodie gave the child up for adoption to another couple.

When Michael and Dodie's marriage was floundering, they thought adopting another baby might help, they called him Jason. But they both realized before the final adoption papers had been signed, that it was not the answer. They gave the infant back to the agency and went ahead with a divorce. Michael moved out and got his own apartment (he was allowed visitation w/Mark and Josh). He saw Lynn Noe (second wife) on the Bonanza set and married her in 1963.

Was diagnosed with cancer, at the very same time actor Bill Bixby was. Coincidentally, both Bixby and Landon were at the same hospital [April 5, 1991].

Began his career as a contract player for Warner Bros. Pictures in 1956.

Beat out two other actors Robert Blake and Robert Fuller for a co-starring role as Little Joe Cartwright on Bonanza (1959)despite initially being all most passed over for the role. This was because David Dortort had mixed feelings about the new, unfamiliar actor auditioning for the role, thinking Landon was way too young to play the role. With the encouragement of David's wife, who picked up a publicity still of Landon, her husband changed his mind, and bestowed Landon the role.

Was hired to direct several episodes of Black Sheep Squadron (1976) that starred Robert Conrad. He was unavailable to do so, due to his contractual obligations working on Little House on the Prairie (1974), at the same network that Black Sheep Squadron, was on, which was NBC.

Was associated with NBC from 1956 through 1990.

Used to play tennis with Robert Fuller.

His widow Cindy Landon is a vegetarian.

During childhood, he always worried about his mother's suicide attempts.

Had lived in the same area as Dick Van Dyke, Pernell Roberts and Larry Hagman.

Acting mentor and friends with Melissa Gilbert.

Acting mentor was Lorne Greene.

In 1993, TV Guide listed the Bonanza (1959) two-hour wedding episode, "Forever", as one of television's most memorable specials. Landon's script fondly recalled brother Hoss, who was initially the story's groom, before Dan Blocker's untimely death.

Longtime friends with Victor French.

Began directing at age 32.

When he married Dodie Levy-Fraser, his parents did not attend the wedding.

Before he was a successful actor and director, he was also a singer.

Depression ran in his family.

Was a commercial spokesperson for Kodak Camera in the 1970s and 1980s.

He met Marjorie Lynn Noe on the set of Bonanza (1959). They were married for 19 years until their 1982 divorce.

He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1500 North Vine Street in Hollywood, California on August 15, 1984.

Michael Landon passed away on July 1, 1991. Just two months before his death, he made his final guest appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962).

A plaque and small playground referred to as the "Little Treehouse on the Prairie" was erected in Knights Park, a central park in Landon's hometown of Collingswood. In 2011, the plaque was removed from the park by the borough and was later given to a local newspaper by an unnamed person. According to the Collingswood, New Jersey website, the plaque was removed during a fall cleanup with plans to return it to a safer location. The plaque was reinstated next to a bench in a safer location the following summer.

After Bonanza ended he Immediately jumped to Little House on the Prairie (1974) for the lead role of Charles Ingalls, primarily because of his popularity on Bonanza (1959).

His future Little House on the Prairie (1974) co-star, Karen Grassle was a huge fan of Bonanza (1959), who in turn was handpicked to play his wife, Caroline Ingalls, on the series. However, Karen Grassle admitted that she didn't know which Cartwright son, Michael Landon played at the time that she was cast.

Was the very first guest on the revised version of Match Game (1973).

He directed an episode of Highway to Heaven (1984) in which young kids were being diagnosed with cancer while attending summer camp. In real life, he had also faced the same disease and succumbed to it six years later.

He was one of the four celebrities behind Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and Lucille Ball to appear on the front cover of TV Guide, 15 times.

His ex-Little House on the Prairie (1974) co-star, Melissa Gilbert said in an interview that when she lost her father, Landon became like a surrogate father to her.

His private life was always bothered by tabloid headlines.

He attended and celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at Temple Beth Sholom, a Conservative synagogue, then located in Haddon Heights, an area that did not allow Jews until after World War II, now in Cherry Hill. His family recalls that Landon "went through a lot of hassle studying for the big event, which included bicycling to a nearby town every day to learn how to read Hebrew and do the chanting".

He was always known to keep his friendship with Johnny Carson and his marriage to Cindy Landon private.

He wore four-inch lifts in Bonanza (1959) and Little House on the Prairie (1974).

In the "Little House on the Prairie" books, Charles Ingalls wore a beard, but when the books were turned into a series Landon's character never wore a beard.

He never practiced any religion as an adult.

Had hired five of his real life children for Little House on the Prairie (1974).

Despite being one of the biggest names in television history, he never came close to being nominated for an Emmy Award, in any category.

His favorite drink was vodka.

In a 1985 interview, Landon claimed he ate lunch alone at Collingswood High School, and that he never had a date as a teenager because no Christian father in the town would allow his daughter to go out with a Jew.

He was most widely known to be a social butterfly.

When Eugene wanted to try out for the javelin, his father wasn't too impressed. Eli questioned him about it, wanted that javelin out of the house, when Eugene refused, prior to practicing it in track.

Landon wanted to give acting a try, and attended Estelle Harman's Acting Classes.

In 1950, aged 13, he was voted the School Athlete of the Year, at the same time, he began to grow long hair.

On [Little House on the Prairie (1974)], his character was the father of 4 children, in real-life, he was the father of 9 children.

In 1954, at the same time Eugene was going to college in California, his family also moved to California, as well. Eugene also lived with his parents.

Searching for refuge, young Eugene would walk to Newton Lake Park, in Collingswood, New Jersey, he would go there everyday, where there was a dock. His sister, Victoria King, would go to the park with her brother, and sit with him, all day, hearing all the stories from him that he made up.

On [Little House on the Prairie (1974)], his character called [Melissa Gilbert]'s character, "Halfpint," in real-life, Landon nicknamed Gilbert, "Halfpint.".

When Landon was doing [Highway to Heaven (1984)], NBC wanted a handsome young, unfamiliar actor to play Mark Gordon, but he insisted he would only agree to star in the series if his friend and [Little House on the Prairie (1974)], co-star, [Victor French] was cast.

In late 1990, he took a ski vacation with his family, while out skiing in Park City, Utah, at the same time, he was out exercising, he learned that he had serious stomach problems, he needed to see a doctor, and had diagnosed him with terminal pancreatic cancer.

Before he was a successful actor, he was selling blankets.