Michael Landon’s son, who cared for father during cancer battle, now shares tragic diagnosis

Although more than three decades have passed since Michael Landon’s passing, his enduring legacy endures thanks to his iconic roles in timeless TV series such as ‘Bonanza,’ ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ and ‘Highway to Heaven.’

Beyond his familiar presence on our screens, Landon was a devoted husband and affectionate father whose paramount aspiration was to foster strong bonds with his children.

This desire to be an exemplary parent likely sprang from his own tumultuous childhood. His mother grappled with severe mental health issues, and Landon’s steadfast efforts saved her life on multiple occasions following her suicide attempts.

Despite being a gifted athlete, a college injury dashed his sporting dreams, leading the young Landon to try his luck in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. Over the course of his extensive television career, he graced the cover of TV Guide an impressive 22 times, a remarkable achievement he shares with Lucille Ball.

Landon’s personal life was marked by three marriages and the role of a father to a total of nine children. His first wife, Dodie Levy-Fraser, brought two sons, Mark and John, into his life through adoption. With his second wife, Lynn Noe, Landon expanded his family further, becoming the father of four children: Leslie, Michael Jr., Christopher, and Shawna. Additionally, he embraced Noe’s daughter, Cheryl, from a previous relationship through adoption.

However, his second marriage eventually dissolved, leading him to marry for a third and final time to Cindy Clerico. This union sparked some controversy due to the significant age difference, with Clerico being 20 years younger than Landon.

Many accused him of infidelity during his second marriage with Clerico, but he vehemently refuted these claims. In a 1985 interview with People, Landon stated,  “You don’t dissolve a relationship to go to bed with someone 20 years younger. You have to have major differences and a deep-rooted need to stop a relationship after as many years as I was married.”   

Despite already being a father to seven children, Landon welcomed two more into his life through his third marriage, Jennifer and Matthew. Despite the challenges of raising a large family, his daughter Jennifer described him to Closer Weekly in 2019 as “a fantastic father who was curious about everything and loved to teach the children.”

Regrettably, Michael Landon’s life came to an end in 1991, at the tender age of 54, a mere three months after receiving the devastating diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. However, his enduring love from family and friends persisted until his last moments, as all of his children rallied around him during his final days.

In the subsequent year, Christopher Landon, his son and a director in his own right, shared with People the poignant account of his father’s last days. He sorrowfully recounted how their roles seemed to reverse, with his father becoming like a “son” while Christopher assumed the role of “the father.”

In recent times, Christopher, known for directing films like ‘Happy Death Day,’ has frequently paid tribute to his late father on social media, preserving and honoring the memory of the beloved Michael Landon.

Unfortunately, Christopher Landon has faced his share of challenges, as he openly shared with his fans on social media in 2021 that he had received a diagnosis of kidney cancer. Alongside an image of himself in a hospital bed posted on Instagram, he penned a caption that began with,  “Whelp….where to start. About a week ago I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. I was rushed into emergency surgery to have part of my kidney removed…”

Fortunately, his ailment was in its initial phases, allowing medical professionals to conduct urgent surgery to excise portions of his kidneys. In light of this, Christopher urged everyone to undergo testing and prioritize their well-being before it became a critical issue.

It’s truly heartening to witness Michael Landon’s family continuing his legacy.

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