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Michael Landon who played Charles Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie and Little Joe Cartwright on Bonanza

Michael Landon was born Eugene Maurice Orowitz October 31, 1936 in Queens, New York. He chose his stage name randomly out of a telephone directory. He is known for his long time role as 'Little Joe' Cartwright on the TV show Bonanza. However, Michael is probably best known for his role as Charles Ingalls on the TV show Little House on the Prairie . Landon also played the popular role of Jonathan Smith on the series Highway to Heaven. Landon holds a record for the most time starring in full one hour TV shows, more than any other actor or actress. The three main shows he starred in were tremendously successful which helped him earn this title. He tended play family oriented roles and stick to family oriented shows.

Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls on the TV show Little House on the Prairie

Michael Landon as 'Little Joe' Cartwright on the TV show Bonanza

Landon made his first film appearance in These Wilder Years in 1956. He co-starred with James Cagney, Barbara Stanwyck, Walter Pidgeon, Dorothy Adams, and Dean Jones. That same year he made his first TV series appearance on the show Sheriff of Cochise starring John Bromfield, Stan Jones and Roy Engel.

Michael would go on to appear in Studio 57 starring Marguerite Chapman, Robert Armstrong, Jean Byron, Paul Bryar, and Don Haggerty; The Adventures of Jim Bowie starring Scott Forbes, Minerva Urecal and William Schallert; Crusader starring Brian Keith, Edwin Reimers and Wilfred Knapp; Wire Service starring Dane Clark, Mercedes McCambridge and George Brent; and Landon would star in two appearances in Crossroads starring Jeff Morrow, Robert Carson and Frank J. Scannell.

Michael appeared in Dr. Christian starring Macdonald Carey, Jan Shepard and Jack Hogan; Fight for the Title starring George Brenlin, Don Haggerty, William Newell, Bill Erwin, and Arlene McQuade (1957); The 20th Century-Fox Hour: End of a Gun starring Jimmy Baird, John Drew Barrymore, Lyle Bettger, Richard Crane, and Jamie Farr ; Cavalcade of America: The Man from St. Paul co-starring Bud Alberts, Stacy Keach, Claire Carleton and Bonnie Franklin; Telephone Time starring John Nesbitt, Frank Baxter and Maurice Marsac; State Trooper starring Rod Cameron, Robert Armstrong and Don Haggerty;

Landon landed his first starring role in a film in 1957 playing the role of Tony Rivers in I Was a Teenage Werewolf co-starring Yvonne Fedderson, Whit Bissell, Barney Phillips, and Malcolm Atterbur.

Michael Landon and Whit Bissell in the film I Was a Teenage Werewolf 1957

Michael Landon as Tony Rivers in I Was a Teenage Werewolf 1957


He would go on to appear in The Court of Last Resort starring Robert H. Harris, Carleton Young and S. John Launer; Suspicion starring Dennis O'Keefe, Holly Bane, Clark Howat, Marian Seldes, and Jack Klugman; and 3 episodes of Tales of Wells Fargo starring Dale Robertson, William Demarest and Kit Carson.

Landon would appear in U.S. Marshal starring John Bromfield, James Griffith and Buck Young; Cheyenne starring Clint Walker, Clyde Howdy and Fred Carson; Maracaibo co-starring Cornel Wilde, Jean Wallace, Francis Lederer, and Abbe Lane; High School Confidential! co-starring Russ Tamblyn, Jan Sterling, Mamie Van Doren, Diane Jergens, John Drew Barrymore, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Charles Chaplin Jr.; several episodes of Schlitz Playhouse with John Forsythe, Abby Dalton, Claude Akins, Staats Cotsworth, Jean Allison, DeForest Kelley, Robert Crosson, Joyce Cunning, and Andrew Duggan; Alcoa Theatre: Johnny Risk co-starring Lew Ayres, Bonnie Bolding, Robert Griffin, DeForest Kelley, and Alan Hale Jr.; God's Little Acre co-starring Robert Ryan, Tina Louise, Buddy Hackett, Aldo Ray, Jack Lord, and Vic Morrow; The Texan starring Rory Calhoun, Regis Parton and Duncan Lamont; and Trackdown starring Robert Culp, Norman Leavitt and Ellen Corby.

Michael Landon in his younger years

Landon landed his first regular role on a TV series as 'Little Joe' Cartwright on the TV show Bonanza in 1959. He co-starred with Lorne Greene (Ben Cartwright), Dan Blocker ('Hoss' Cartwright), and Pernell Roberts (Adam Cartwright). Landon would play the role of Little Joe until the show ended in 1973. He starred in an incredible 429 episodes over 14 seasons.

Cast of Bonanza, the early years left to right: Pernell Roberts (Adam Cartwright), Michael Landon ('Little Joe' Cartwright), Lorne Green (Ben Cartwright), and Dan Blocker ('Hoss' Cartwright)

Michael Landon as 'Little Joe' Cartwright in the TV western Bonanza


In 1959 Michael also appeared in Frontier Doctor starring Rex Allen, Alan Dinehart III and Chubby Johnson; Wanted: Dead or Alive starring Steve McQueen, Wright King and Jack Tornek; Tombstone Territory starring Pat Conway, Richard Eastham and Quintin Sondergaard; Playhouse 90: Project Immortality co-starrng Lee J. Cobb, Gusti Huber, Patty McCormack, and Kenneth Haigh; The Rifleman starring Chuck Connors, Johnny Crawford and Paul Fix; The Legend of Tom Dooley co-starring Jo Morrow and Jack Hogan; and Johnny Staccato starring John Cassavetes, Eduardo Ciannelli and Frank London.

Michael Landon and Dan Blocker of the TV show Bonanza


During his run on Bonanza. Landon starred in Luke and the Tenderfoot co-starring Richard Bakalyan, Jim Bannon, Charles Bronson, Edgar Buchanan, and Dick Bernie (1965); Swing Out, Sweet Land co-starring John Wayne, Ann-Margret, Dan Blocker, Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Lorne Greene, Celeste Holm, and Phyllis Diller (1970); The Red Skelton Hour starring Red Skelton, Billy Barty, David Rose, and Bob Duggan (1970); The Special London Bridge Special with Jennifer O'Neill, Kirk Douglas, Tom Jones, Jonathan Winters, Chief Dan George, Lorne Greene, and Charlton Heston (1972);

Members of the Cartwright family from the TV show Bonanza. Michael Landon ('Little Joe'), Lorne Greene (Ben), and Dan Blocker ('Hoss')

The Ingalls family from Little House on the Prairie . Front: Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls), Karen Grassle (Caroline Ingalls), Melissa Sue Gilbert (Laura Ingalls) Back: Michael Landon (Charles Ingalls), Lindsay or Sidney Greenbush (Carrie Ingalls)

Also during this time period, Landon produced, wrote, and even directed a couple of episodes, but did not star in "Little House" star Merlin Olsen's own show Father Murphy from 1981 to 1983.

After Little House on the Prairie . Landon starred in Love Is Forever with Laura Gemser, Priscilla Presley, Edward Woodward, and Jürgen Prochnow (1983); Little House: Look Back to Yesterday co-starring Melissa Gilbert. Dean Butler, Victor French. Richard Bull, Jonathan Gilbert. Allison Balson, Kevin Hagen, Shannen Doherty, and Leslie Landon (1983); Little House: The Last Farewell co-starring Melissa Gilbert, Dean Butler, Victor French. Richard Bull, Jonathan Gilbert. Allison Balson, Kevin Hagen, Karen Grassle. Shannen Doherty, and Leslie Landon (1984); and Sam's Son co-starring Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, Timothy Patrick Murphy, Hallie Todd, Jonna Lee, William Bassett, and James Karen (1984). Landon would produce, but have only his voice heard in the Holiday TV movie Little House: Bless All the Dear Children (1984).


In 1984, Landon would be at it again producing, directing, writing AND acting in most episodes his new TV show Highway to Heaven. He would star as Jonathan Smith a fallen angel sent to earth to do good. Landon teamed up with his co-star and director of the "Little House" TV movies, Victor French as police officer Mark Gordon. His other co-stars on this hit show would be a line of weekly guest stars a few of which are established stars, however they were mostly up and coming stars including Jennifer Parsons, Mary McCusker, Robin Riker, Dennis A. Pratt, David Spielberg, Helen Hayes, Ned Beatty, Herb Edelman, Peter Billingsley. Eli Wallach, Danny Pintauro, Will Estes, Christine Healy, and Leann Hunley. The show would run for six successful years ending in 1989.

Victor French (Mark Gordon) and Michael Landon ( Jonathan Smith) in the TV show Highway to Heaven