Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Michael Landon ~ A Biography

Michael Landon on Findagrave

Eugene Maurice Orowitz

Birth: Oct. 31, 1936
Queens County
New York, USA

Death: Jul. 1, 1991
Los Angeles County
California, USA

Actor, Motion Picture Director. 
Born in Forest Hills, New York, the family moved to Collingswood, New Jersey, when he was four. Although he had a genius level IQ he failed to maintain passing grades in high school. He was, however, a popular student and was considered by most to be very funny. Discovering the javelin turned his life around. He became so proficient in the sport that he was offered several athletic scholarships and accepted the offer from the University of California. While there he injured his arm and was forced to relinquish the scholarship. He dropped out of college and became employed at a warehouse in California. An audition was planned at Warner Brothers Studio for Michael and a co-worker. Warner Brothers was impressed with his audition. They signed him and sent him to acting school for four months. During this time he decided to take a stage name and chose the name Michael Landon, picking it from a telephone book. His first notable appearance on film was in "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" in 1957. Around this time producer David Dortort had a television show in the works that he had created called Bonanza. Dortorts successful persuasion to the network that he could make a hit television show with relatively unknown actors was another turning point in Michael's life and would form the basis of his career. Dortort chose him for the roll of Little Joe Cartwright. The show premiered on September 12, 1959 and was a hit for 10 of the 14 years it was on the air. While involved in Bonanza he was able to nurture his talent of writing and directing. He wrote and directed several of the episodes. His next project was Little House on the Prairie. The series, which premiered in 1974 and ended in 1983, was very successful. Relationships with his fellow actors on these projects were an essential part of his life and many remained close friends until his death. In 1984 he started his last television series, Highway to Heaven, which was to run until 1989. He was working on the production of a series when he became ill and was not able to see it to fruition. In April of 1991 he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was married three times. His first wife was Dodie Frasier. They were married from 1956 until 1962. In 1963 he married model Marjorie Lynn Noe and they divorced in 1982. He married makeup artist Cindy Clerico on February 14, 1983. He was the father of five sons and four daughters. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum posthumously inducted him into the Western Performers Hall of Fame in 1998. His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located at 1500 N. Vine Street. 

(bio by: Julie Karen Hancock (Cooper) Jackson) 

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