‘Bonanza’ Star Michael Landon Discussed Daughter’s Brutal Car Accident: ‘I Never Prayed So Hard in My Life’

by Jennifer Shea

“Bonanza” star Michael Landon went through some difficult experiences in his life, but until he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in 1991, the most harrowing one may have been the car crash that left his daughter in a coma.

In a July 7, 1982 appearance on “The 700 Club,” Landon talked about his daughter Cheryl’s car accident in Arizona. Everyone else in the car had died instantly. When he first got word of what had happened, Landon said, he was in Utah. The doctor told him over the phone that as he saw it, Cheryl didn’t stand much of a chance of surviving.

The “Bonanza” star made it to Tucson as fast as he could. Cheryl was still alive, but barely. Landon, ignoring the doctor’s prognosis, stayed at her bedside and prayed.

“Most people don’t really pray very hard until they really need it,” Landon said. “It’s the same as, a lot of people get very religious when they get very old. Whether or not it’s a ‘just in case’ kind of thing, I don’t know. But I never prayed so hard in my life as I did there. And she lived.”

“And I made a lot of promises,” Landon added, “that I would like to keep.”

Watch a clip of Landon’s remarks here:

‘Bonanza’ Star Had Nine Children

Landon had nine children total. He adopted wo sons, Mark and Josh, when he married his first wife, Dodie Levy-Fraser, in 1956. Mark died in 2009 at age 60.

Landon adopted Cheryl when he married Marjorie Lynn Noe in 1963. Leslie Ann and Shawna Leigh are Landon’s biological daughters with Noe. Michael Jr. is Landon’s biological son with Noe. And Christopher Beau is the youngest biological child from Landon’s second marriage.

In 1983, Landon married Cindy Clerico, a makeup artist from “Little House on the Prairie.” They had two children together, Jennifer Rachel and Sean Matthew, per Wide Open Country.

In his final appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” Landon lashed out at the tabloids for reporting that nine kids weren’t enough for him and he was trying for a tenth – so that his wife would have something to remember him by. At that point, beside his nine kids, Landon also had nine dogs and three grandchildren to take care of.

Fortunately for Landon, he is remembered fondly by his kids, who tell stories about their dad’s mischievous sense of humor and great heart.