Born Eugene Maurice Orowitz, October 31, 1936, in Forest Hills, NY; died of liver and pancreatic cancer, July 1, 1991, in Malibu, CA. Actor, producer, writer, and director.
Landon is best known for his acting in three popular television series, Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, and Highway to Heaven. He began acting in television anthology series in the mid-1950s before making his feature film debut in I Was a Teenage Werewolf in 1957. From 1959 to 1973 Landon starred as Little Joe Cartwright in the NBC western Bonanza,which, at one point in its run, earned the distinction of being the most watched television show in the world. Landon began writing and directing episodesof Bonanza in the early sixties. Following Bonanza, Landon created, produced, and starred in Little House on the Prairie, a series based on Laura Ingalls Wilder's books that he also predominantly wrote and directed. When Little House ended in 1983, he served similar functions ona new series, Highway to Heaven, which he starred in from 1984 to 1988. When Highway to Heaven concluded its run it marked the end of a thirty-five year relationship between Landon and NBC, a feat many believe to bethe longest-running association between a network and a star in television history. In addition to his work in series television, Landon was also prolificin the creation of movies for television. He was the producer/writer/director, as well as supporting actor, on such productions as The Loneliest Runner and Where Pigeons Go to Die, and the producer and director of the films The Killing Stone and It's Good to Be Alive. He also wrote, directed, and appeared in the theatrical release Sam's Son. Throughout his career, Landon strove to create entertainment that was both thought-provoking and uplifting--he was said to have been drawn to optimistic themesdue to an unhappy childhood. At the time he learned of his illness, Landon'snew series US, in which he was to play a travelling reporter, had been accepted by CBS for the network's 1991 fall lineup. At Landon's request, the two hour pilot for the series was aired after his death.