For many fans of classic television, Michael Landon is one of the all-time great performers. A star of such popular and timeless shows as Little House on the Prairie, Landon was on television for almost his entire life. He died when he was still in his prime, struck down by a devastating pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
Still, he remains beloved by millions of fans around the world, fans who appreciate the talent that he evidenced and the touching shows that he helped to realize. While Landon was a perfectionist when it came to his work, his personal life was a bit messier, and to this day, fans discuss the controversial relationships that he formed behind the scenes.
What is Michael Landon best known for?
Landon was born in 1936 and received early acclaim for his prowess in sports. He was a renowned javelin thrower, earning an athletic scholarship before a devastating injury sidelined his career and left Landon looking for other opportunities.
In the mid-’50s, Landon appeared in a few movies and television shows, mainly in Westerns and teen comedies.
In 1959, Landon landed one of the leading roles in the new television series Bonanza. As Little Joe Cartwright, Landon quickly became a television favorite. He continued to act in the series until it went off the air in 1973. To this day, Bonanza remains one of the most popular television Westerns of all time.
Following his run on Bonanza, Landon began production on Little House on the Prairie. The show would go on to become another instant classic, a series that formed stars like Melissa Gilbert. By the time that Little House on the Prairie debuted on television, Landon was a huge star — and he remained a major celebrity until his death from pancreatic cancer in 1991.
Michael Landon’s first two wives
Landon’s personal life often made the headlines. In 1956, when Landon was an up and coming young actor, he married Dodie Levy-Fraser and adopted both of her children.
The two were married until 1962 when they divorced. One year after Landon’s divorce from his first wife, he married an actress named Marjorie Lynn Noe. Landon adopted Noe’s daughter, and the couple would go on to welcome four more children of their own.
Landon and Noe were married for many years, all during the height of Landon’s fame. However, their relationship ended in scandal, amidst reports that Landon was having an affair with a young makeup artist on the set of Little House on the Prairie. Landon ultimately filed for divorce from Noe in 1982.
“I would have done anything to make that relationship continue, but I could not,” Landon said at the time, of his marriage to Noe. “It’s not just difficult for the wife. It is painful for the husband too. But it is far better than letting it stay the way it was.”
Who was Michael Landon married to when he died?
Less than a full year after Landon’s divorce from Marjorie Lynn Noe, the actor married Cindy Clerico, the makeup artist with whom it was rumored he was having the affair. Although their marriage started in controversy, it seems that it was ultimately successful, since they went on to have two children together.
Landon and Clerico were still happily married when he died from cancer in 1991. While Landon’s legacy is not a perfect one, as evidenced by his three marriages, he was clearly a man who embraced life and all that it had to offer — even when it landed him in some hot water with fans and tabloids.
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