Michael Landon was an American actor, producer, writer and director. Landon was one of America's finest show men starring in popular series such as Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, and in Highway to Heaven.

Early Life

Michael Landon was born Eugene Maurice Orowitz on the 31st of October 1936 to Eli Maurice Orowitz and Peggy O'Neill. It was not until he got into acting school that he changed his name from Eugene Maurice Orowitz to Michael Landon. Although Orowitz was born in Queens, New York, it was in a Collingswood suburb in New Jersey that he grew up. Orowitz was born in a family actively engaged in the entertainment industry. His father had a career as actor and movie theater manager and his mother was an actress.

While growing up, Young Eugene had a strong fascination for reading comic books and going on lone long walks. Although, a straight-A student in elementary school, Eugene's interest shifted from academics to sports by the time he got into high school. This interest paid off when he became an expert javelin thrower, setting a national high school record. However, Eugene performed poorly in academics and only got into college via an athletic scholarship. Barely in a year after, Orowitz dropped out of college due to his inability to maintain a consistent winning streak in his athletic performances.

After he left college, Eugene had to take up menial jobs to survive. It was during this time that a friend approached Eugene to seek his help for an acting audition. Instead of his friend, it was Orowitz who got admitted to acting school. Afterwards, he changed his name from Eugene Maurice Orowitz to Michael Landon. Twelve weeks later, he appeared in his first TV role.

Professional Career

After taking a number of small roles in television Westerns and drama series, Landon made his film debut in the famous 1957 film I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Landon then went on to consolidate his reputation in the 1959-73 television series, Bonanza. Bonanza went on to become the foremost television series 1964 to 1967. By the time Landon starred in the 1974-83 television series, Little House on the Prairie, he had endeared himself to the American audience. Landon also wrote and directed some of the films he starred in.

Personal Life

In 1956, Landon married Dodie Levy-Fraser, a widowed legal secretary. Dodie had a son from her previous marriage, Mark, whom Landon adopted. Four years later, the couple welcomed a son, Josh. The marriage between Landon and Dodie ended in 1962.

A year later, Landon would remarry, tying the knot with Marjorie Lynn Noe, a divorced model and actress. Lynn Noe had also had a child from her previous marriage, Cheryl, whom Landon also adopted. However, just like his previous marriage to Dodie, Landon's marital engagement with Lynn Noe also ended with a divorce in 1982. Together, they had four children. After his divorce with Lynn Noe, Landon remarried again in 1983 to makeup artist, Cindy Clerico, whom he remained married to till his death in 1991. The couple had two children.

In early 1991, while vacationing in Utah, Landon was hit with a severe abdominal pain. He was later diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Doctors said the cancer was beyond medical intervention and terminal. In the July of the same year (1991), Landon passed away. He was aged 54.

Last Modified: 14 May, 2018

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