by Herbie J Pilato
“The one thing I need to leave behind is good memories.” — Michael Landon
Michael Landon enjoyed an astonishing career as an actor, writer, director, and producer. His success was all the more impressive given that he was relatively small in stature (5’9″), and retained a boyishness that would have robbed a lesser man of the aura of authority needed to attain his career heights.
Landon was a popular staple on television in the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s until he succumbed to liver and pancreatic cancer at only 54-years-old on July 1, 1991. But he will forever be remembered as Joseph “Little Joe” Cartwright on three of TV’s top shows, all of which aired on NBC: Bonanza (1959–73), caring father Charles Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie (1974–1983) and Jonathan, the Angel, on Highway to Heaven (1984 to 1989).
“Grasshopper” Remember Charles
Actor Radames Pera, who portrayed “Young Grasshopper” on Kung Fu (ABC, 1974–1976), was later cast as John Jr. on Little House. Pera said Landon was “a consummate pro and real ‘actor’s director,’” but was ambivalent towards his fame, both embracing and suffering from it.
Writer/producer Herbie J Pilato is the host of the TV talk show THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, now streaming on Amazon Prime and the author of several pop-culture/media tie-in books. He has been part of TVWriter™ for over 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J HERE