‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon Once Opened Up About Faith Following Cancer Diagnosis

by Joe Rutland

Michael Landon, whose TV work on “Little House on the Prairie” and other shows remains on the air today, was facing a serious health crisis.

Landon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April 1991, something that made him take a long, hard look at life’s deeper meanings. Prior to his death on July 1, 1991, he shared some thoughts on faith and God.

″I believe in God, I believe in family, I believe in truth between people, I believe in the power of love,” Landon said in a 1991 interview with The Associated Press. “I believe that we really are created in God’s image, that there is God in all of us.

″So I don’t see why I should fear death – and I don’t,” Landon said. “I don’t want to die, and I’m going to fight like hell not to, but I’m not afraid to die.”

Michael Landon Appears On ‘The Tonight Show’ In 1991

During the months after receiving his diagnosis, Landon continued to put forth a brave face. He admitted to being a heavy smoker and drinker in his life.

One of his last on-air appearances was on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in May 1991. He and Carson had been friends for a number of years with both contributing, in their own ways, to NBC’s success. Landon had three series, “Bonanza,” “Little House on the Prairie,” and “Highway to Heaven,” appear on NBC.

Carson was “The Tonight Show” host from 1962 through 1992.

In the interview, Landon is quite honest and frank about his health condition. He receives quite an ovation from the audience and Carson asks him, obviously, about his health and family.

Take a look at this moment from television history on “The Tonight Show.”

Landon Would Stop Production Constantly on ‘Bonanza’

One of the things that made Michael Landon difficult for a lot of people to work with was his attention to detail. It was almost like everything needed to be perfect or else.

Landon often held up production and complained about other people’s work, according to Bonanza: A Viewer’s Guide to the TV Legend by David R. Greenland.

David Dotort, a producer on “Bonanza,” said Landon constantly stopped the show. The producer said he brought in an intermediary to get things moving.

“It got bad because Landon developed very quickly as a good director,” Dotort said. “Then, as an actor, he began to criticize what he thought were errors being made by other ‘Bonanza’ directors. They’d come to me and say, ‘We spend most of our time arguing.'”

Landon ultimately had to have cast members tell him to chill out. It didn’t always work, though. Once he got “Little House on the Prairie,” though, Landon could take his ideas there and make them work.