MICHAEL LANDON BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Michael Landon was born Eugene Maurice Orowitz in Forest Hills, Queens, New York, on October 31, 1936. He was an American actor, director, writer, and producer. He is most famous for his work in television, as he appeared on TV for twenty-eight years. His largest known works include positions on “Bonanza” (1959-73), “Little House on the Prairie” (1974-83), and “Highway to Heaven” (1984-89). The actor starred in some movies, also.
After being forced to quit college due to an arm injury, Landon decided to pursue acting. He believed he needed a more suitable name, so he changed his to Michael Landon. He went with his friend to audition at the Warners Brother acting school, and although his friend didn’t make it, he did. Landon acted in a few television shows, but nothing outstanding. His very first appearance, however, was in “Telephone Time” (1956) as the main character. Landon’s initial experience in films was as an uncredited pool boy in “These Wilder Years” (1956).
His first film lead was in the now famous “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” (1957), as teenager Tony Rivers. Landon’s first good reviews came from the comedy/drama “God’s Little Acre”, in which he plays albino Dave Dawson. He achieved additional exposure in the western “The Legend of Tom Dooley” (1959), which ultimately helped him seize his next big television role. In 1959, Landon landed a part in NBC’s “Bonanza” as the youngest of the three Cartwright brothers, Little Joe, who was rebellious to some extent and a bit cocky, but also very smooth with the ladies. The show prospered and made Michael Landon a household name.
Fourteen years later, “Bonanza” came to a close. One year later, though, the actor grabbed a spot on NBC’s “Little House on the Prairie” (1974), a show based on a popular book written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. He portrayed the male lead, Charles Ingalls, who was a wholesome family man and farmer. The show put an emphasis on family values, and was even nominated for several Emmy and Golden Globe awards. He quit the show a year before it ended, for he saw his TV kids were grown up. He quickly returned to television, however, but swerved away from the westerners he had been doing for twenty-three years, in the NBC series “Highway to Heaven” (1984). He played Jonathon Smith, an angel whose only job was to help save people’s lives. He also produced, wrote, and directed the hit. Landon ended the show in 1989, for his boss and co-star, Victor French, died due to lung cancer.
Next, Landon co-produced the made-for-TV movie “Love is Forever” (1983), and also starred in the romantic flick. Additionally, he wrote, directed, and made an appearance in the movie loosely based on his own life “Sam’s Son” (1984). In 1991, NBC let the actor go, thus he switched over to CBS. Here he starred in the two hour pilot “Us” (1991). He was meant to continue and the show was meant to prosper, but Landon was halted because of pancreatic cancer. His final public appearance occurred on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in June of 1991. On July 1 of 1991, Landon passed away in Malibu, California.
He died with a Golden Globe nomination for “Little House on the Prairie”, as well as wins for four small awards. He currently has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to television. Actor and “Little House on the Prairie” co-star Melissa Gilbert furthermore commemorated Landon’s life and achievements by naming her son after the actor.
1991 The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
1990 American Red Cross Emergency Test
1989 Blue Angel
1987 Desperate Passage
1985 Monsters and Maniacs
1984 Sam's Son
1984 Highway to Heaven
1984 Little House: The Last Farewell
1983 Love is Forever
1981 The Wonderful World of Disney
1979 Little House Years
1976 The Loneliest Runner
1974 Little House on the Prairie
1972 The Special London Bridge Special
1965 Luke and the Tenderfoot
1961 The Errand Boy
1959 The Legend Of Tom Dooley
1958 High School Confidential!
1958 God's Little Acre
1957 Suspicion: The Story of Margery Reardon
1957 I Was a Teenage Werewolf
1957 Fight for the Title
1956 These Wilder Years
1956 Telephone Time