Michael Landon

Birthday: Oct 31, 1936
Birthplace: Forest Hills, Queens, NY
The son of a Jewish movie-publicist father and an Irish Catholic musical-comedy actress, Michael Landon grew up in a predominantly Protestant New Jersey neighborhood. The social pressures brought to bear on young Michael, both at home and in the schoolyard, led to an acute bedwetting problem, which he would later dramatize (very discreetly) in the 1976 TV movie The Loneliest Runner. Determined to better his lot in life, Landon excelled in high school athletics; his prowess at javelin throwing won him a scholarship at the University of Southern California, but a torn ligament during his freshman year ended his college career. Taking a series of manual labor jobs, Landon had no real direction in life until he agreed to help a friend audition for the Warners Bros. acting school. The friend didn't get the job, but Landon did, launching a career that would eventually span nearly four decades. Michael's first film lead was in the now-legendary I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), widely derided at the time but later reassessed as one of the better examples of the late-'50s "drive-in horror" genre. The actor received his first good reviews for his performance as an albino in God's Little Acre. This led to his attaining the title role in 1959's The Legend of Tom Dooley, which in turn was instrumental in his being cast as Little Joe Cartwright on the popular TV western Bonanza. During his fourteen-year Bonanza stint, Landon was given the opportunity to write and direct a few episodes. He carried over these newfound skills into his next TV project, Little House on the Prairie, which ran from 1974 to 1982 (just before Little House, Landon made his TV-movie directorial bow with It's Good to Be Alive, the biopic of baseball great Roy Campanella). Landon also oversaw two spinoff series, Little House: The New Beginning (1982-83) and Father Murphy (1984). Landon kept up his career momentum with a third long-running TV series, Highway to Heaven (1984-89) wherein the actor/producer/director/writer played guardian angel Jonathan Smith. One of the most popular TV personalities of the '70s and '80s, Landon was not universally beloved by his Hollywood contemporaries, what with his dictatorial on-set behavior and his tendency to shed his wives whenever they matured past childbearing age. Still, for every detractor, there was a friend, family member or coworker who felt that Landon was the salt of the earth. In early 1991, Landon began work on his fourth TV series, Us, when he began experiencing stomach pains. In April of that same year, the actor was informed that he had inoperable pancreatic cancer. The courage and dignity with which Michael Landon lived his final months on earth resulted in a public outpouring of love, affection and support, the like of which was seldom witnessed in the cynical, self-involved '90s. Michael Landon died in his Malibu home on July 1, 1991, with his third wife Cindy at his side.

Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet Little House on the Prairie: Merry Christmas Engalls Actor 2014
No Score Yet A Bing Crosby Christmas Actor 2000
No Score Yet The Legend of Tom Dooley Actor 2000
No Score Yet Monsters and Maniacs Actor 1988
No Score Yet Sam's Son Director Gene Orman Screenwriter 1984
No Score Yet Love Is Forever John Everingham Producer 1983
No Score Yet Killing Stone Producer Director Screenwriter 1978
No Score Yet Del mero corazon Actor 1978
No Score Yet It's Good to Be Alive Director 1974
No Score Yet Ride the Wind Actor 1966
50% The Errand Boy Guest Star 1961
No Score Yet The Legend of Tom Dooley Tom Dooley 1959
No Score Yet Maracaibo Lago Orlando 1958
No Score Yet God's Little Acre Dave Dawson 1958
70% High School Confidential Steve Bentley 1958
40% I Was a Teenage Werewolf Tony Rivers 1957
No Score Yet These Wilder Years Boy in Poolroom 1956
No Score Yet Golden Age of TV Dramas Actor 1951


No Score Yet Bonanza
Screenwriter Director Joe Little Joe Little Joe Cartwright Joe Cartwright Litle Joe
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No Score Yet Match Game
  • 2016
No Score Yet Highway to Heaven
Executive Producer Screenwriter Director Jonathan Smith
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No Score Yet When Calls the Heart
Producer Director
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No Score Yet Little House on the Prairie
Producer Executive Producer Screenwriter Director Charles Charles Ingalls
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No Score Yet Sesame Street
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