Eugene Maurice Orowitz He was "a great man". And the Michael Landon that he ended up adopting in his career was one of those actors who were so similar to his characters. Or vice versa: it could not do more than "good" in The Ingalls family, first, and in Way to heaven then. But on April 5, 1991, Eugene was diagnosed: pancreatic cancer, with metastases to the liver and lymph nodes. Less than three months later, on July 1, 1991, he died. He was just 54 years old.
It was then that those who knew him personally regretted his departure, just as did those who saw him on screen. Because both of them could enjoy it. Although they wished it was more time. Loved on and off the set. In an environment where egos and selfishness are superfluous, that speaks volumes about who he was.
Born October 31, 1936 in New York, he was the son of a Catholic mother and a Jewish father. And throughout his childhood he was a victim of anti-Semitism from his schoolmates, a circumstance that only at the end of his life could he make known.
But Michael was not unhappy only at school, but also at home. Her mother had psychiatric disorders, and on several occasions she would have threatened her family with suicide. This kept him in suspense permanently, so he could rarely afford to enjoy innocence like any other child.
However, these adversities caused Michael to forge a strong character, which allowed him to fight until he became one of the most important actors and producers in Hollywood. In the middle, obviously, he had to overcome more than one obstacle.
At just 16 years old he had an accident when he participated in a motorcycle race, which left him with his face practically disfigured. The surgeons managed to rebuild his features. Once recovered, he decided to get away from his family by marrying Dodie Levy Fraser
However, determined to achieve his goal, Michael survived by making commercials and some supporting roles in small-time movies. Until in 1959 his great opportunity came at the hand of Bonanza, a series that lasted 14 years and that allowed him to achieve fame internationally, with his character of Joe Cartwright.
In parallel, Michael married Marjorie Lynn Noe, with whom he had four children: Leslie, Michael, Shawna and Christopher. And he began to enjoy a very good economic pass. But by then he must have also struggled with his addictions - some mention alcohol and others, tranquilizers - which was not an easy task.
Finally, in 1974 came The Ingalls family, a series based on the seven novels written by Laura Ingalls in the nineteenth century, he produced, wrote, directed and acted himself. Thanks to her, Michael conquered the world with his character of Charles Ingalls: it was engraved in the collective unconscious as the good and noble American with whom everyone would like to be. The series ran until 1983.
"I want people to laugh and cry, not just sit and watch television. Maybe I'm out of fashion, but I think viewers are hungry for shows where people say something meaningful, "he said of his productions, while critics questioned him for ever appealing to sensitivity.
In 1973, meanwhile, Charly pontrelli –Daughter of his wife- suffered an accident that took two years of recovery, to which he had to add another two more to overcome his addiction to barbiturates. This inspired Michael to create Way to heaven, a series with which he tried to help people get ahead. Released in 1984, it played Jonathan Smith, an angel who came down to help the people who needed to regain faith to overcome their problems.
They say that Michael's decision to turn this family experience into fiction ended up affecting their marriage. And that every love break depressed him. So, determined not to be alone, in 1983 he joined Cindy Clerico, a makeup artist 20 years younger with whom she had her children Jennifer and Sean. With her he shared his last years in Los Angeles, California, until the disease surprised him.
“Two things can happen to me: I win or I lose. And I am prepared for both things ”, Michael had confessed to the magazine Life when you were diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was undergoing experimental chemotherapy treatment. Days after giving that interview, he died.