HomeEntertainmentMichael Landon: How Old Was the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star When He Died?

Michael Landon: How Old Was the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star When He Died?

by Emily Morgan
(Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

Fans will celebrate the late Michael Landon for his charisma, charm, and talent during his successful career. Along with his dangerously good looks, the actor became a breakout star on some of America’s most beloved shows. Tragically, he left this world much too soon at the age of 54.

Tragedy struck the Landon family when doctors revealed the heartbreaking verdict that he had been diagnosed with cancer. Moreover, his cancer would end up taking his life just three months after the actor received the news.

Michael Landon was born Eugene Maurice Orowitz on October 31, 1936, in Forest Hills, N.Y. Landon’s childhood was far from perfect as he said he often had to undergo beatings from his suicidal mother, who had said she wanted him dead. Despite this, he was a successful student and athlete in school. He earned himself an athletic scholarship to USC for javelin.

His athletic career ended in college, and later, he signed up for Warner Bros’ acting school and changed his name. Just months later, he booked a starring role in the show “Telephone Time” in 1956.

Fans Celebrate Michael Landon For Iconic Roles

Later in 1957, Michael Landon made his movie debut in “I Was a Teen-Age Werewolf.” After booking other small parts, he got his big break when he landed the role of Little Joe Cartwright in “Bonanza.”

During his decades-long career as an actor and producer, Americans watched him grow up via their television screens during his run on shows such as “Bonanza” and “The Rifleman.” Later, fans fell even more in love with him when he portrayed Charles Ingalls, the Ingalls family’s patriarch on “Little House on the Prairie.”

Michael Landon passed away on July 1, 1991, at his Malibu home with his wife, Cindy, and other family members at his side. According to the family, since the previous spring, his medical condition had declined quickly since April 8, when he announced he had terminal liver and pancreas cancer.

“I am going to fight it,” the father of nine said at his home before he died. “Every moment gets a little more important after something like this. Live every moment, guys.”