Michael Landon

October 31, 1936 – July 1, 1991 

Now I won’t have to worry about the new series making it or not.


Michael Landon
Michael Landon


Landon was born Eugene Maurice Orowitz, in Forest Hills, NY, and made his film debut in 1957, in the film I Was A Teenage Werewolf. He played “Little Joe,” on the television show Bonanza for 14 years, and made a new generation of fans in that Shannen Doherty vehicle Little House on the Prairie, also known as the poor man’s The Waltons. There was also that show Highway to Heaven, which was pretty popular as well, but I hated it.

On Friday, April 5th, 1991, Landon was hospitalized at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, (thank you Terri Rios) for what was thought to be an ulcer.



He was given the news that they discovered tumors in both his liver and pancreas. From what I can gather, Landon had been known to overindulge in alcohol and cigarettes. Having only a 3 to 5 percent chance of survival, his publicist Harry Flynn released the statement, “Michael said he is going to beat it.”

Landon returned to his $7 million home on Bonsall Drive, in Malibu, and went under extensive treatments in the following months, including chemotherapy, holistic medicine and even coffee enemas.



On May 8th, he made his final public appearance on The Tonight Show, with his old buddy, Johnny Carson.

Fans turned the outside of their home at number 5920, into chaos.



They were staging some sort of vigil in the road in front of the gates, tacking messages to the gate.



Why must people insist upon writing messages and posting them like that? Why? Take pictures, don’t leave shit. Like he’s gonna read it.

Gone is my moral high ground, here is the best photo I could get of the house, courtesy of my pal Larry, who I begged to stand up in the car and take it.



Pathetic, I know, but here we are, aren’t we? To compound the excitement, here is a photo of the service entrance.



On July 1st, Landon realized the end was very near, (like thisnear) and asked his 34-year-old wife Cindy to bring all 9 kids (he was a member of the Mel Gibson procreation society) (Okay, some were adopted) into the bedroom. “I love you all very much, but would you all go downstairs and give me some time with Cindy.” She was the only one with him when he closed his eyes, and died a few minutes later. It was 1:10 p.m., and he was 54 years old.


Michael Landon's Death Certificate


Upon the news of his death, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce placed a wreath on his star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.




Landon was cremated on the 2nd of July, and on the 5th, there was a memorial service for him at Hillside Memorial Park. The theme from Little House on the Prairie was played on loudspeakers, while 500 guests jammed the chapel. Guests included Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Ernest Borgnine, Brian Keith, Merlin Olsen, Melissa Gilbert, and Melissa Sue Anderson. His wife Cindy brought along the white box containing his ashes to the service, and afterwards, his ashes were buried in the family plot.


View his grave.


Trivia: Landon is buried about 50 yards from his Bonanza co-star, Lorne Greene.

More: I saw a talk show a while back, featuring one of Landon’s daughters. She claimed that Michael talks to her from the beyond, and tells her what to do with his money. Charitable contributions, etc. Though I don’t necessarily disbelieve these stories, the impression I got was that she should invest in long term accommodation at the HooHoo Hotel.



MORE, sent in 19 April, 2001 by Findadeath.com friend Dan Carlin:

Michael Landon was born and raised in Collingswood, New Jersey, and attended Collingswood high school there.  He was the spokesperson for W.A.R., Women Against Rape, which is based there. Joan McKenna is the head of this national group. There is a memorial set up in a local park to honor him, near the home where he grew up.



UPDATE December 2004, from Find a Death friend Don:

Hi Scott – I emailed you (in 6/2000) with a half-promise to send along pix of the Winter Dance Party, which my friend had participated in. I’m sorry that I never reported back to you the fact that my ex-employer had deleted all the photos, some of which I know you would have been interested in.

This is a recollection of an anecdote my father told me, when he was on a TV show called “Michigan Outdoors” (I’m sure you might remember Mort Neff – my pop was Dick Black, and covered the west side of the state).  He, Mort, and Howard Shelley all were at a celebration regarding the Mackinac Bridge; also attending were Michael Landon, Lorne Greene, and Dan Blocker.  The shows had a mutual sponsor, namely Chevrolet.  I believe the agency was involved in this event – Campbell-Ewald.

The story is set in a bar in St. Ignace, where they were introduced to each other, and the core of it was the joviality of all three, especially Dan, but the humorous part is the name which Michael used when addressing Lorne: “Dada”…

Hope that’s interesting and useful.  Keep up the good work on your site, which I’ve spent WAY too much time on lately.


Regards, Don

Thanks for the info, Don!



UPDATE February 2005, from Find a Death friend Carmen:

Howdy again Scott,  This is Carmen of Wylie, TX with some info that could unfurl into some good “jawing” as we say down here.

When I was in LA 87-91, I had a client whose husband was best friends with Landon. Their children had guest appearances all the time on the “Prairie” show to boost their income, so naturally it behooved her to say he was an angel. Anyhoo – she said Landon was a fantastic friend, and helped a lot of people out who were not as wealthy as he was, but I became to know the other more money grubbing side which I’ll get to.

I also knew Melissa Sue in ’90 when she was a make-up artist at the Lancome’ counter at Topanga Canyon Mall. She and another cast member clued me in on the fact that the crew had A LOT of medical problems that were believed to be caused by the land that they filmed on, which Landon bought very cheap because it was right next to Rocketdyne in Simi Valley, (LA’ers call it “Slimy Valley), which produced lots of weaponry that has always been toxic. Anyway, if you can get the scoop on the demise of the cast most likely they are all on their last leg. Melissa was very nice and I knew her boyfriend, a rocker at that time, and I felt sorry for all those people who worked on such dangerous property which Landon knew full well the details.  Yes, he could have been a drinker and smoker, but he sure was young to have all those tumors. I am pretty sure the remaining cast members have serious health issues today. Thanks and I LOVE your site!

Carmen – Wylie, TX

Thanks for the info, Carmen!



Also February 2005, from Find a Death friend Tim:

I was one of those in vigil at Michael Landon’s gate. I deeply regret it now, but at the time I wanted to test it, and see if prolonged and intense prayer would help to heal this man who brought so much good into the world through entertainment.  I was doing “a good thing” to bring help down from God for him. I was there all day at his gate and slept in my car three days or so.  I never spoke or intruded in any other way, but prayed there by the gate.  I thought it was worth a try.  I’d never done anything like that before.  Michael’s kids and friends and actors on the shows were nice to me and one waved to me on the coast highway.

As fate had it, my car broke down the day I was leaving, and his wife Cindy Landon was driving by and stopped and called me by name, and was very very nice to me. She acted as though she was glad I was there, but might have just been polite. She gave me a lift in her Mercedes and offered to repair my car, and I declined the offer, not wanting to be any burden to her life. I found alternate help and had the the care towed, but before I left, Cindy sent out a box of lunch for me and a $50 bill that her servant said would go bad for me to turn down. That’s a pretty class act.

Thanks for the info, Tim!



9 thoughts on “Michael Landon

  • April 22, 2022 at 4:30 am

    Hi my name is. Ann Therese
    I play in Michael Landon Jonathan smith angel.
    Thank you. Have go show tv movies star
    Starting lady’s Anna. And eloy. Babauta

  • January 31, 2021 at 12:44 am

    Michael Landon and his Appaloosa. If I could roll my R’s, you’d hear me purrrrrr…
    On another note, Smelly Melly Gilbert was very mean and nasty to ML, until she heard he was dying. Then she played up to him with her pity party. She’d have nothing, and be a nobody, if it wasn’t for him. And after everything, she IS a nobody; ungrateful twit.

  • September 24, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    The info Don Carlin presented was not accurate. Landon was born in Forest Hills, NY. He moved to Collingwood NJ when he was a child.

  • June 7, 2020 at 8:43 am

    Scott! Hey! I want to share a story with you, despite the fact that you just induced me to cringe my way through roughly 18 seconds of Telly Savalas butchering George Harrison’s beautiful song.

    Karma’s a bitch, Scott.

    When I was just a kid growing up in the early 1970s San Fernando Valley, my dad enrolled us in a local Father & Son Indian Guides troop. My dad was cool that way, and looking back on it I’ll bet he found the whole Cub/ Boy Scouts routine to be a little too ‘Ronald Reagan/ John Birch’.

    From what I’ve been hearing in the here & now, dad probably saved me some time in therapy.

    Getting back to the Indian Guides:
    So I don’t remember as much as I wish I did about this era of my life, but one thing was for sure: Michael Landon and his son Michael Jr. were members of our Indian Guides Troop, and that was about as cool as it gets to a 1972-ish Bobby Brady lookalike/ dressalike. Mike & son weren’t always able to attend our meetings, but I think Michael tried to make up for that but taking the troop on awesome field trips to the mountains and one time, one of the Bonanza sets. I have no idea where exactly that was, but I’m pretty sure it couldn’t have been the actual *Ponderosa Theme Park way up in Lake Tahoe. I was actually up THERE much later in the early 90s, before they razed it for (you guessed it) condos.

    So from what I’m reading in the here & now, I hope the set we went to wasn’t in ‘Slimy’ Valley. (checks pancreas)

    My recollections of ML are that he was an EXTREMELY cool guy, and knew how to make his time with the troop count. Also, on a weird side note, Michael Jr. and I looked almost exactly alike. I mean literally, there were instances where people had trouble telling us apart.

    From what I’m reading in the here & now… was Michael Jr, one of the adopted kids? Because I was. (hmmmmm)

    Anyway, my dad passed away about 2 years before Landon in 1989, otherwise I’d have many more details about this highly enjoyable era of my life. I should look up Mike Jr. and see what he remembers. (and maybe check our DNA) Wanna hear a “fun” fact about my dad’s death? It was his second bypass surgery, and he was recovering at Cedars-Sinai. Something went wrong, and he passed away when we were all thinking the tough part was over.

    The “fun” fact is that the very same heart surgeon who lost my dad lost a patient named Lucille Ball about 3 weeks later.

    *Ponderosa Ranch: That place was UBER f***ing cool Scott. Little Joe’s iconic green jacket was right there hanging on a coat rack as you walked in the door of the main house.

    From what I’m reading in the here & now, I would have absconded with that iconic green jacket just for you, Scott: Savalas or no Savalas.

    Good times. https://www.tripsavvy.com/bonanza-ponderosa-ranch-1478031

    • September 24, 2020 at 2:29 pm

      Michael Landon Jr was Mike’s biological son. I don’t think he looked anything like Bobby Brady as you said you do.

      • January 26, 2021 at 2:11 pm

        Right. ML Jr was ML’s biological son and had light blonde hair as a boy, hair so blonde it was almost white.

        • August 9, 2021 at 10:29 am

          To Dirk and Liz: First off, I was fully joking about actually thinking I was related to Mike Jr. : )

          Secondly, I looked like Bobby Brady mostly in that my mom dressed me like him. (at least until I discovered that I liked ripped-up Levi’s better) So yes, as a kid my hair WAS very blonde just like Mike Jr’s and you have to trust me: We literally looked like twins. Michael Sr. and my dad cracked multiple jokes about it, and somewhere out there are a few photos, IIRC. And I still plan to try contacting Jr about all this lol.

          Anyway, good times for sure.

    • October 14, 2022 at 3:44 pm

      The Ponderosa at Lake Tahoe wasn’t immediately razed after it closed. The new owner – some dot commer from Silicon Valley – kept it intact as a private playground for years. Guess he liked role-playing. Who knows? Finally razed in 2019, house & barn moved out to Elko to reopen for tourists.

      Worth noting that Pernell Roberts attended Landon’s service & gave a eulogy, but came & went through a back entrance to avoid the press. He also eulogied Lorne Greene (hopefully after he died) & Victor Sen Yeung, who played Hop Sing. Even paid for Victor’s funeral & graveside. So much for being the “bad” cast member.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.