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Michael Landon Prayed near Dying Daughter Who He Adopted over a Decade Earlier for Her Unlikely Recovery

Oyin Balogun
Jun 25, 2022
08:20 A.M.
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Michael Landon faced many difficulties, including dealing with the consequences of his daughter Cheryl's drug addiction. After she almost died from a drug overdose, the actor almost lost her again in a fatal car crash. What happened after? Find out.

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Born Eugene Orowitz in October 1936, Michael Landon was best known as an American Actor and Filmmaker. He made his film debut in the 1957 movie "I Was A Teenage Wolf," after which he bagged other significant roles such as Little Joe Cartwright in "Bonanza" and Charles Ingalls in "Little House on the Prairie."

For Landon, achieving such greatness in the movie industry was an incredible feat, seeing that he had a difficult childhood. He was born to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother and was exposed to his parents' bitter fights at a young age.

Michael Landon, in Hollywood, California, circa 1990 | Source: Getty Images

Michael Landon, in Hollywood, California, circa 1990 | Source: Getty Images

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The traumatic moments were so much that the actor once revealed he always wanted to get away from his family. Landon also described his mother as a mentally unstable and childish person. According to the actor, his mother always tried taking her life through various means, like sticking her head in the oven.

At some point, he became used to his mother's attempted suicide acts and would think, "Gee, if it's Tuesday, it must be suicide." Overall, Landon's upbringing left him with many scars, which made him promise that his family would not experience the same traumatic things.

Michael Landon photographed for "American Jr. Miss" on March 26, 1974, in Los Angeles. | Source: Getty Images

Michael Landon photographed for "American Jr. Miss" on March 26, 1974, in Los Angeles. | Source: Getty Images

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In the "Little House on the Prairie," star words: "I never wanted to have a family even close to what my parents had, and I never have." Here are more details about the filmmaker's personal life.

LANDON'S FIRST MARRIAGE AND HIS KIDS

Dodie Levy-Fraser posing at home with Michael Landon and their cats, circa 1960. | Source:Getty Images

Dodie Levy-Fraser posing at home with Michael Landon and their cats, circa 1960. | Source:Getty Images

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In 1956, Landon walked down the aisle for the first time with Legal Secretary Dodie Levy Fraser. Upon their marriage, the actor adopted his wife's 12-year-old son, Mark, from a previous relationship and took good care of him. Later, the couple adopted another son, Josh, when he was a baby.

A few years later, Landon and Fraser decided to expand their family again. They adopted another boy, Jason, when he was a week old, right before their divorce.

Headshot of American actor Michael Landon smiling in costume from the television series, "The Little House On The Prairie." | Source: Getty Images.

Headshot of American actor Michael Landon smiling in costume from the television series, "The Little House On The Prairie." | Source: Getty Images.

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Although the children were not his flesh and blood, Landon did not treat them any differently and made it known to the world how much he cared about his sons. He hated it when people would call Josh and Jason adopted because, to him, they were his sons.

"They're my sons — period. Not my 'adopted sons.' They're my sons, and I'm their father until they die — or I die," Landon once said.

Michael Landon poses with the People's Choice Award during a 1989 Beverly Hills, California, photo portrait session. | Source: Getty Images.

Michael Landon poses with the People's Choice Award during a 1989 Beverly Hills, California, photo portrait session. | Source: Getty Images.

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Unfortunately, while Josh remained the actor's son till the latter's demise, it was not the same for Jason. Following Landon and Fraser's divorce in 1962, the legal secretary gained custody of their three sons. However, it was tough on Fraser, as a single mother of three, and she decided she could not continue raising Jason.

So, Fraser gave her youngest son to another couple, Bill and Alma Smith. Years later, during Jason's adolescent years, he tried to reach out to Fraser and Landon but never got a response and decided to let them be.

Michael Landon on March 6, 1991 at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California | Source: Getty Images

Michael Landon on March 6, 1991 at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California | Source: Getty Images

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For Jason, dealing with abandonment was difficult, but it is believed that it was more difficult for Landon because he never spoke about it. Later, American Singer Nik Venet explained that Landon did not know how to handle the situation, hence his decision to remain mute about it.

After his first divorce, the actor gave love a second chance. He tied the knot with his second wife and fellow movie star, Marjorie Lynn Noe, in 1963.

Michael Landon, who plays a leading role in the TV series 'Bonanza', with his wife Lynn and their young daughter, Cheryl in August 1965. | Source: Getty Images.

Michael Landon, who plays a leading role in the TV series 'Bonanza', with his wife Lynn and their young daughter, Cheryl in August 1965. | Source: Getty Images.

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While married, Landon adopted Cheryl, Noe's daughter, from a previous relationship. Later, the couple would welcome four more children, Leslie, Michael Jr, Shawna, and Christopher.

Sadly, after 19 years of marriage, Landon and Noe called it quit in 1982. Many assumed that the couple's marriage ended because the actor wanted a younger woman, Cindy Clerico, whom he later married and welcomed two children, Jennifer and Sean with. However, Landon claimed it was because they did not grow in the same direction. In his words:

"I don't consider that a failed marriage. I don't think it was a disaster. We just didn't grow in the same direction. We became different people. We both changed."

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Michael Landon and , Marjorie Lynn Noe with their children Michael Landon Jr, Leslie Landon, Sean Landon and Jennifer Landon appearing on the ABC tv special 'The Barbara Walters Special'. | Source: Getty Images

Michael Landon and , Marjorie Lynn Noe with their children Michael Landon Jr, Leslie Landon, Sean Landon and Jennifer Landon appearing on the ABC tv special 'The Barbara Walters Special'. | Source: Getty Images

On the other hand, Cheryl had a different notion about her parents' marriage and divorce. According to her, in the couple's 17th year, Landon began acting strangely, and she could sense something in the air. Cheryl said her dad was caught up living in a lie and was dealing in deceit.

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Cheryl said at some point, Landon began to treat Noe "dreadfully," and she could not believe the actor could be so cruel to her mother.

The young lady also disputed Landon's claims of not having a "failed marriage." According to Cheryl, when the couple parted ways, she did not see two happy parents for an extremely long time.

Lynn Noe and Michael Landon at the Hollywood Radio and Television Society's 16th Annual International Broadcasting Awards on March 4, 1976, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Lynn Noe and Michael Landon at the Hollywood Radio and Television Society's 16th Annual International Broadcasting Awards on March 4, 1976, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

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Overall, Cheryl made it known that Landon was close to destroying his family, but thankfully, Noe fought her way back and created a new life for herself.

Although many believed Landon was a lousy husband, the actor tried to be an excellent father to his kids, including Cheryl, who had a problematic past.

Michael Landon and his wife, Marjorie Lynn Noe, at the opening night of singer Susan Barrett's performances in Hollywood, California, in November 1966: | Source: Getty Images

Michael Landon and his wife, Marjorie Lynn Noe, at the opening night of singer Susan Barrett's performances in Hollywood, California, in November 1966: | Source: Getty Images

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Cheryl was hooked on drugs at a young age, and when she was 19, she overdosed on a combination of drugs and nearly died. Landon was present throughout his daughter's addiction, but it weighed significantly on him.

"You get very guilty about some of your feelings about your child, one of which is, 'I wish she did not exist. If she didn't exist, I wouldn't feel all this pain,'" Landon once confessed.

While dealing with the consequences of Cheryl's addiction, the actor also faced another significant traumatic experience — his daughter's accident that almost claimed her life.

Marjorie Lynn Noe and her ex-husband Michael Landon appearing on the ABC tv special 'The Barbara Walters Special'. | Source: Getty Images

Marjorie Lynn Noe and her ex-husband Michael Landon appearing on the ABC tv special 'The Barbara Walters Special'. | Source: Getty Images

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At 19, Cheryl got into an accident that killed the three people in the car with her and left her in a coma for four days. It was difficult for Landon as he watched his young daughter endure so much pain. The pain fueled the actor's decision to help Cheryl get back to life.

"My father willed me back to life. He sat with me for a month. After the doctors had given up on me, I remember him saying to me, 'Fight, Baby!'" Cheryl recalled her father's support.

Cheryl Landon, daughter of the late actor Michael Landon, pictured in Studio City, California, where she was giving a lecture at CBS studios on November 6, 1999 | Source: Getty Images

Cheryl Landon, daughter of the late actor Michael Landon, pictured in Studio City, California, where she was giving a lecture at CBS studios on November 6, 1999 | Source: Getty Images

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Landon accompanied his encouraging words with lots of prayers. The filmmaker told CBS that he had never prayed the way he did following the accident. Thankfully, Landon's prayers were answered as Cheryl managed to pull through.

WHERE ARE LANDON'S CHILDREN NOW?

Cheryl Landon giving a lecture at CBS Studios on November 6, 1999, in Studio City, California. | Source: Getty Images

Cheryl Landon giving a lecture at CBS Studios on November 6, 1999, in Studio City, California. | Source: Getty Images

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It's been more than five decades since Cheryl's near-death experience, and many wonder what Landon's children have been up to. Here are some facts about the actor's children.

Mark bagged some movie roles, but he passed away in 2009. His second child, Josh, lives privately, and little is known about him. Cheryl is doing well away from the spotlight. She wrote a book detailing her bond with Landon, titled "I Promised My Dad: An Intimate Portrait Of Michael Landon."

Cheryl Landon Wilson posing for a photo in Calabasas, California on April 28, 1998. | Source: Getty Images

Cheryl Landon Wilson posing for a photo in Calabasas, California on April 28, 1998. | Source: Getty Images

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Leslie is a clinical psychologist with a daughter, while Michael Jr is a writer, producer, and director. Shawna is a Los Angeles real estate agent, while her brother, Christopher, is a successful screenwriter, producer, and director. Jennifer is doing well as an actress with three Emmy nominations, while Sean is a successful Realtor.

With all Landon's children succeeding in their fields, it is safe to say the actor died a fulfilled father. The actor died in 1991 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.

Leslie Landon, Marjorie Lynn Noe, Michael Landon Sr. and Michael Landon Jr. at the 4th Annual People's Choice Awards on February 20, 1978, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Leslie Landon, Marjorie Lynn Noe, Michael Landon Sr. and Michael Landon Jr. at the 4th Annual People's Choice Awards on February 20, 1978, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

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In his last months, Landon spent quality time with his children, especially the youngest, Jennifer and Sean. He made them ask him one question before bed, which he would answer wholeheartedly.

The bedtime routine continued for a while until Landon finally passed. Recalling the final moments with his father, Christopher implied that it was tough. "You could say a thousand goodbyes, and it would never be enough," he said.

Michael Landon, wife Cindy Landon, daughter Jennifer Landon and son Sean Landon attend the Third Annual Moonlight Roundup Extravaganza to Benefit Free Arts for Abused Children on July 29, 1989 | Source: Getty Images

Michael Landon, wife Cindy Landon, daughter Jennifer Landon and son Sean Landon attend the Third Annual Moonlight Roundup Extravaganza to Benefit Free Arts for Abused Children on July 29, 1989 | Source: Getty Images

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Following Landon's death, the actor's family was greatly affected, and they had to add therapy to their routine. With time, they healed from the pain but could not fill the void.

To date, Landon's children still remember him as a man devoted to his family. According to Jennifer, the "Bonanza" actor was a present father. "I felt admired by him — which is an amazing feeling to have as a child," she added.

Christopher Landon and date, Sean Landon, Jennifer Landon, Cindy Clerico, actor Michael Landon, Michael Landon Jr. and date, Mark Landon, Leslie Landon and Shawna Landon attend Third Annual Moonlight Roundup Benefiting Free Arts for Abused Children on July 29, 1989 at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, California | Source: Getty Images

Christopher Landon and date, Sean Landon, Jennifer Landon, Cindy Clerico, actor Michael Landon, Michael Landon Jr. and date, Mark Landon, Leslie Landon and Shawna Landon attend Third Annual Moonlight Roundup Benefiting Free Arts for Abused Children on July 29, 1989 at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, California | Source: Getty Images

Besides the filmmaker's family, other celebrities also remember Landon for the roles he played in their lives. For example, Melissa Gilbert once said that Landon became her father figure after her father died.

The actor will always be remembered and celebrated for his impact on the movie industry and the lives of people around him.

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