“Yellowstone” star Jen Landon had to cope with the death of her father, the legendary actor, writer and director Michael Landon, when he was just 54. And as the younger Landon told People in 2005, it was a devastating blow to handle as a small child.
“I was not ready,” Landon said. “I wasn’t ready to hear it at all, not at all.”
Her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1991. The actor tried everything, including homeopathic approaches like acupuncture, to stop the progression of the disease. But his condition deteriorated quickly. So finally Landon was told to say her final goodbyes to her father.
“I cried when they did that,” Landon said. “They took me over there. I was like, ‘No, I don’t want to! I don’t want to.”’
‘Yellowstone’ Star Has Fond Memories of Her Father
But her father lives on in Landon’s memories and in the stories she tells about him. In a 2019 interview with Closer Weekly, Landon recalled her father as a charismatic figure who always put his kids first.
“He was always so present as a father,” Landon told Closer Weekly. “He’d watch me jump around the pool for an hour straight. I think he genuinely enjoyed it. I felt admired by him — which is an amazing feeling to have as a child.”
Landon, who is often described by coworkers as very serious about his craft, was a fun presence around the house. Landon said that while he was firm, he was also impish.
“He was just the best!” she said. “That doesn’t mean we had free rein. There was a tremendous amount of respect and discipline that was implemented in our house — but my dad always made things so fun, too.”
For example, there was the time Landon dyed all the snow around their vacation ski lodge in Vail a bright pink using Nestle Quik powder. He then woke Landon and her friend up and sent them outside with spoons. And the “Yellowstone” star has never forgotten the mischievous joy with which he presented the giant slushy to them.
Michael Landon Overcame a Difficult Childhood to Be a Great Parent
Landon’s father had a tough childhood in Collingswood, New Jersey. He had few friends in the largely Protestant town and had to endure anti-Semitic bullying. His mother was depressed and suicidal, and it fell to him to save her life on more than one occasion.
But Landon’s father didn’t let his unhappy childhood hold him back later in life. And Landon herself said he provided the sort of happy home life he must have always wished he had as a kid.
“My dad didn’t believe in allowing past hardships to affect your present circumstances in a detrimental way,” the “Yellowstone” star said. “None of the things he experienced was ever apparent in the way he parented. He was all about turning things around, that’s why he liked underdogs and identified with them.”
Her father’s final battle with cancer was an unwinnable one. But he taught his daughter to be brave, and as a successful actress, she surely would have made him proud today.