11 Interesting Facts In Celebration Of Michael Landon

Michael Landon was one of the world’s most loved entertainers, but he suffered a tragic death on the 1st of July, 1991.

He died of pancreatic cancer after several decades of entertaining people with his roles on TV. For anyone who ever watched Little House on the Prairie, Michael Landon was like a father figure to us all, someone we could look up to for motivation, for inspiration.

When we love someone so much, it’s hard to imagine that there are things about them that we might still not know.

So in celebration of Michael Landon and his works, we’ve compiled a couple of facts about him both on and off screen.

If you have anything you’d like to add, we’d love to hear from you. Do leave your thoughts over comments in Facebook, and SHARE with all other Michael Landon fans!

1. He saved his mother from drowning when he was just a kid

Flickr / State Library of New South Wales

Peggy Kathleen O’Neill Orowitz, his mother, had an illustrious career as a dancer and comedian, however she also suffered from clinical depression. The illness led her to try and drown herself during a family vacation, but her son came to the rescue.


2. He had a strong IQ, but he still didn’t perform well in school

Wikimedia Commons

His IQ was more than impressive at 159, but he graduated amongst the bottom of the class because he put all his focus on athletics.


3. He broke records as an athlete

Wikimedia Commons / NBC Television

He broke the record for javelin throwing and even earned himself an athletic scholarship to University of Southern California, but his athletic ambitions came to a halt due to a torn ligament.


4. His stage name “Michael Landon” was taken off a phone registry

Wikimedia Commons / Film screenshot

His birth name was Eugene Maurice Orowitz, but he chose a simpler name by flipping through the phone book.


5. He had naturally gray hair

YouTube / Little House on the Prairie

His hair started graying early in his 20s, and so he had to seek professional help to maintain a brunette mane of hair.


6. He knew Karate

YouTube / Movieclips

He learnt the martial art from Chuck Norris from “The Way of the Dragon” fame.


7. He was close personal friends with Johnny Carson

YouTube / Johnny Carson

They had been confidantes throughout their life, and that’s why Michael Landon felt comfortable discussing his cancer with Carson on his show.


8. He Had A Falling Out With Melissa Gilbert

YouTube / Little House on the Prairie

Melissa Gilbert became quite close with her onscreen father, Michael Landon, especially after her own father died when she was 11. However, when Michael Landon fell in love with Lynn Noe and divorced his first wife, Melissa was heartbroken. They only reconnected later in Michael Landon’s life, when he started battling cancer. She would later give birth to a baby boy whom she’d name Michael in his memory.


9. He was signed with NBC for 34 years

Wikimedia Commons / AndyLindgren

He had been appearing in NBC roles since 1956, when he merely had guest roles, but then he cemented his relation with the network with roles in Bonanza, and Little House on the Prairie.


10. The poem that Charles read out in Season 2 was written by Michael Landon himself

Wikimedia Commons / Taph Madison

The eulogy for Julie Sanderson had been written by Michael Landon himself. In fact, Melissa would later use the same eulogy at Michael Landon’s funeral.


11. He was the writer and director of two semi-autobiographical movies

Wikimedia Commons / NBC-TV

The movies The Loneliest Run (1976) and Sam’s Son (1984) both had autobiographical beats in place from Michael Landon’s own childhood, such as the characters’ habitual bed wetting.

Do you have any other facts to share about Michael Landon? Let us know in the comments and be sure to SHARE it with all Michael Landon fans!