Michael Landon will always be remembered as one of the TV greats. Few in entertainment history can claim two more iconic roles than Little Joe Cartwright on Bonanza and Laura Ingalls' father Charles Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. For those roles alone, he serves as a reminder of the glorious golden age of television.
Landon became so popular that he was even able to create his own TV shows following Little House, including Highway to Heaven, Father Murphy and Us, which was meant to be a new pilot for him to star in but was released as a TV film after his premature death.
Across his three marriages, Michael Landon had a total of nine children. When he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, tabloids were claiming that his wife, Cindy Landon, wanted him to have a tenth child to remember him by. Those Hollywood tabloids are brutal. In his last TV appearance with Johnny Carson, he set the record straight that in real life, nine kids will be plenty to remember him by.
Here's a closer look at all of Michael Landon's children.
1. Mark Fraser Landon
When Landon married his first wife Dodie Levy-Fraser in 1956, he adopted her 8-year-old son Mark from a previous marriage. Mark went on to book a few acting roles including Us (1991) which was written and directed by his father before his death as well as a small role in Goodbye America (1997). Sadly Mark passed away in 2009 and is buried with his father in Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.
2. Josh Fraser Landon
Josh was the second adopted son from Landon's marriage with Dodie. Not much is known about Josh, but we know that Landon loved him. In an interview with People in 1962, he made it clear that he was his son, no questions asked.
"I hate it when someone calls them 'adopted'.... They're my sons--period," Landon says. "Not my 'adopted sons.' They're my sons and I'm their father until they die--or I die."
There was technically a third adopted child from when Landon was married to Dodie named Jason. But when Dodie was awarded custody of all of her kids following their divorce in 1962, she felt she couldn't take care of three children and so Jason was adopted by a family in Texas.
3. Cheryl Lynn Landon
When Cheryl's mother Marjorie Lynn Noe married the TV star in 1963, she already had 9-year-old Cheryl from a previous marriage. But Landon raised her as one of his own and she eventually took on the Landon last name. In 1992, Cheryl published I Promised my Dad, a look inside what it was like growing up as the TV star's oldest daughter.
4. Leslie Ann Landon
Leslie, the second of Landon's children with Marjorie, played the role of Etta Plum on Little House but eventually decided to leave show business. She went to Pepperdine University in Malibu and is now a clinical psychologist.
Her daughter, Rachel Matthews, is an up-and-coming actress.
5. Michael Landon Jr
Michael Jr was the third of Landon's children with Marjorie. Though he had some early roles in his father's projects like Little House and Bonanza, he went on to become a notable writer, producer and director. He was the creator of the successful Hallmark film turned television series When Calls the Heart and serves as its executive producer. He's been married to his wife Sharee Gregory since the late '80s and they have three children together.
Read More: 9 Things You Didn't Know About 'Bonanza'
6. Shawna Leigh Landon
Shawna Leigh Landon opted out of show biz and grew up to become a Los Angeles real estate agent. She now has her own children and loves posting pictures about her life as a mom on Instagram.
7. Christopher Beau Landon
Chris Landon was the youngest child to come from Landon's second marriage. While his older brother Michael focused more on television, Chris became a pretty successful film screenwriter, director and producer. Some of his most notable films include Disturbia, Paranormal Activity 2, Paranormal Activity 3, Paranormal Activity 4, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, Happy Death Day and Happy Death Day 2U. He's a happily married father of two with his husband Cody.
8. Jennifer Rachel Landon
Daughter Jennifer Landon was the first to come from the actor's third marriage to Cindy Clerico, a makeup artist he had met on the set of Little House. The couple married in 1983, just one year after his divorce was finalized from Marjorie. Jennifer is a three-time Emmy winner for her appearance on As The World Turns and is now playing the role of Teeter on the popular TV series Yellowstone.
9. Sean Matthew Landon
Sean Landon is the youngest of all of Landon's children and the second from his marriage to Cindy. He was only 5 years old when his father died. Sean went on to become a successful realtor who owns his own business.
Editors Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 24, 2020.