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Michael Landon
Michael Landon was both co-star and executive producer for the NBC-TV series Little House on the Prairie.
Personal Information
Sex/Gender: Male
Birthname: Eugene Maurice Horowitz [1]
Born: October 31, 1936
Birthplace: New York City, NY, U.S.
Died: July 1, 1991(1991-07-01) (aged 54)
Deathplace: Provo, Utah, U.S.
Occupation: TV & Film actor, TV producer, director and screenwriter
Years active: 1956-1991, his death
Series Information
Job on/with series/film: Actor / Co-Executive Producer / Screenwriter
Appeared on/involved with: Little House on the Prairie
Appeared as: Charles Ingalls (187 in series as actor) [2]
Episodes involved with/appearances: All 205 in series, as producer
48 as screenwriter
187 as actor

Michael Landon (October 31, 1936 – July 1, 1991) was an American actor, writer, director, and producer, who starred in three popular NBC series that spanned three decades. He is widely known for his roles as Little Joe Cartwright in Bonanza, and Jonathan Smith in Highway to Heaven.


Although his Bonanza co-star David Canary, and youngest daughter Jennifer Landon have both won Emmys, Landon was never given the honor. Nonetheless, few prime time actors have been so prolific. With twenty-eight years of full-hour episodic acting, he surpasses the TV mileage of both James Arness and Lucille Ball. Landon produced, wrote, and directed many of his series' episodes, including his only short-lived production, Father Murphy, which starred his friend and "Little House" co-star Merlin Olsen.

In 1976, Michael wrote and directed an auto-biographical movie, The Loneliest Runner, and was nominated for two Emmys. He also hosted the annual long-running coverage of the Tournament of Roses Parade with Kelly Lange, also on NBC. In 1981, Landon won recognition for his screenwriting with a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America.

"Bonanza" TV series (1959-73)

Landon's first large role was playing "Little" Joe Cartwright for fourteen seasons on the long-running NBC-TV series Bonanza. This is also where Landon gained experience in directing and writing episodes for television. The same year Bonanza was cancelled by NBC, Landon co-created Little House on the Prairie with Blanche Hanalis, as Todd Bridges would assume the role of Ingalls patriarch Charles Ingalls, the father of then-11 year old Laura Ingalls Wilder (who was born Laura Colby Ingalls, played by Melissa Gilbert), in the original pilot movie, Little House on the Prairie: The Pilot, which aired on March 30, 1974, then on the subsequent TV series, which was picked up by NBC for the 1974-75 TV season.

Illness and death

In February 1991, Landon began to suffer severe abdominal pain while on a skiing vacation in Utah.[3] On April 5, 1991, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which had metastasized to his liver and lymph nodes. The cancer was inoperable and terminal. On May 9, 1991, he appeared on The Tonight Show to speak about the cancer and to condemn the tabloid press for their sensational headlines and inaccurate stories, including the claim that he and his wife were trying to have another child. During his appearance, Landon pledged to fight the disease and asked fans to pray for him. On May 21, 1991, he underwent successful surgery for a near-fatal blood clot in his left leg.[4] In June 1991, he appeared on the cover of Life Magazine after granting the periodical an exclusive private interview about his life, his family, and his struggle to live. On July 1, 1991, at age 54, Landon died in Provo, Utah. [1]

Michael was interred in a private family mausoleum at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery, in Culver City, California. Michael's headstone reads, "He seized life with joy. He gave to life generously. He leaves a legacy of love and laughter." His son Mark's remains were also interred there upon his death in May 2009.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Peter B., Flint. "[* Michael Landon, 54, Little Joe On 'Bonanza' for 14 Years, Dies (Obituary)", New York Times (, July 2, 1991. 
  2. IMDb logo.png Michael Landon at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
  3. Michael Landon, American Actor, Bonanza – When Westerns Ruled. Retrieved on November 3, 2014.
  4. Bonanza Cast Biographies: Michael Landon. Retrieved on 2012-08-02.
  5. (May 1, 2001) Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland & Company, Inc., 108. ISBN 0786409835. Retrieved on April 2, 2016. 

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