Last Updated: April 3, 2024
Richest CelebritiesActors
Net Worth:
$40 Million
Oct 31, 1936 - Jul 1, 1991 (54 years old)
Forest Hills
5 ft 8 in (1.75 m)
Actor, Screenwriter, Television Producer, Television Director
United States of America
💰 Compare Michael Landon's Net Worth

What Was Michael Landon's Net Worth?

Michael Landon was an American actor, writer, producer, and director who had a net worth equal to $40 million in today's dollars at the time of his death in 1991. Michael Landon was best known for starring in several classic television shows. He played Joseph "Little Joe" Cartwright in the television series "Bonanza" from 1959 to 1973, Charles Ingalls in the TV series "Little House on the Prairie" from 1974 to 1983, and Jonathan Smith in the series "Highway to Heaven" from 1984 to 1989.

Michael appeared on the cover of "TV Guide" 22 times, more than anyone other than Lucille Ball. In 1979, he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Series – Drama for "Little House on the Prairie." Landon received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1984. Michael passed away on July 1, 1991, at 54 years of age, from pancreatic cancer. If Landon were alive today, he could be worth well over $100 million.

Early Life

Michael Landon was born Eugene Maurice Orowitz on October 31, 1936, in Queens, New York. His mother, Peggy, was Roman Catholic, and his father, Eugene, was Jewish. Michael had an older sister, Evelyn, who was born in 1933. Landon moved with his family to Collingswood, New Jersey, when he was four years old, and he attended Temple Beth Shalom in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, throughout elementary school.

Landon attended Collingswood High School, where he excelled at athletics. In 1954, he set the high school record for longest javelin throw. Michael's talents earned him an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California. After tearing his shoulder ligaments, he lost his scholarship and left college.

Landon became interested in show business and started working as a gas station attendant across the street from the Warner Bros studios and was subsequently noticed by local talent agent Bob Raison.

Early Career

Upon being discovered by Bob Raison, Landon changed his name from Eugene Orowitz to Michael Landon, a name he found by searching through a phone book.

He had a number of bit parts and uncredited roles in television shows. In 1956, Michael landed his first starring role on a series called "Telephone Time," in the episode "The Mystery of Casper Hauser" as the title character. Other early notable roles include movie roles in "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" (1957), "Maracaibo" (1958), "High School Confidential" (1958), "God's Little Acre" (1958), and "The Legend of Tom Dooley" (1959). He also appeared on many television shows, such as "Crossroads," "The Restless Gun" (pilot episode aired on "Schlitz Playhouse of Stars"), "Sheriff of Cochise," "Crusader," "Frontier Doctor," "The Rifleman," "The Adventures of Jim Bowie," "Johnny Staccato," 'Wire Service," "General Electric Theater," 'The Court of Last Resort," "State Trooper," "Tales of Wells Fargo," "The Texan," "The Tall Man," "Tombstone Territory," and "Wanted Dead or Alive." Landon appeared in several episodes of Dick Powell's "Zane Grey Theater."

Michael also pursued a singing career. He released a single titled "Gimme a Little Kiss (Will "Ya" Huh)"/" Be Patient with Me" in 1957. In 1964, Landon released a second single, "Linda is Lonesome"/" Without You."


In 1959, Landon began starring as Little Joe Cartwright on "Bonanza." The series was one of the first programs to be broadcast in color nationally. The show was a massive hit, topping Nielsen ratings as the #1 show for three straight years. Landon was the show's breakout star, receiving significantly more fan mail than any other cast member. As his star rose, Michael was able to secure the option to write and direct a number of Bonanza episodes.

Michael also notably directed one of the show's most memorable specials, "Forever," a two-hour wedding episode.

Along with Lorne Greene and Victor Sen Yung, Landon appeared in all 14 seasons of the series. Michael appeared in 428 of the show's 431 episodes.

"Bonanza's" ratings eventually declined, and the show was canceled in November 1972. The last episode aired on January 16, 1973.

(Photo by NBC Television/Getty Images)

"Little House on the Prairie"

In 1973, a year after "Bonanza was canceled, Landon was cast as Charles Ingalls in the pilot of NBC's "Little House on the Prairie." After eight seasons, in 1982, the show was rebranded by NBC as "Little House: A New Beginning." Though Landon remained the show's executive producer, director, and writer, the show did not feature his character. "Little House: A New Beginning" was the final chapter of "Little House on the Prairie," as the series ended in 1983.

Michael appeared in 187 of the show's 204 episodes.

Getty Images

Getty Images

"Highway to Heaven" and Later Work

From 1984 to 1989, Landon starred in the series "Highway to Heaven" as Jonathan Smith. He created the series and served as an executive producer, writer, and director on the show. The series ended in 1989 and was the only show throughout Landon's career that he owned outright. He appeared in all 111 of the show's episodes.

In 1984, Landon released "Sam's Son," a coming-of-age feature film that he wrote and directed. The film was loosely based on Michael's childhood.

Landon also appeared as a celebrity panelist on the premiere week of "Match Game" on CBS.

Personal Life

Landon was married three times and fathered nine children in total.

Michael was married to Dodie Levy-Fraser from 1956 to 1962. They had two children, Mark (adopted, Dodie's biological son) and Josh (also adopted as an infant).

Landon was married to Marjorie Lynn Noe from 1963 to 1982. They had five children, Cheryl (Lynn's daughter from her first marriage), Leslie, Michael Jr., Shawna, and Christopher.

Landon was married to Cindy Clerico from 1983 until his death in 1991. They had two children, Jennifer and Sean.

Landon was a self-admitted chain smoker and heavy drinker.

In 1991, after suffering from a severe headache, Landon was diagnosed with an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer. The cancer was found to be inoperable and terminal. On July 1, 1991, at the age of 54, Michael succumbed to the cancer and passed away in his Malibu home.

Landon was interred in a private family mausoleum at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Real Estate

Michael owned several pieces of valuable real estate. He owned a seven-bedroom mansion in Malibu that featured 70 feet of ocean frontage. He sold that house in 1989 for $6 million, which is equal to around $11 million today. In 2014, an updated version of that home sold for $40 million.

Michael owned another mansion in Malibu Canyon that was much more private. This second property is an equestrian compound that includes a 9,000-square-foot home. His surviving family still owns that property today.

In the 1970s, Landon and fellow "Bonanza" actor Lorne Green co-acquired an undeveloped beachfront property in Malibu. In 1979, they donated the land to the state of California on the condition that it become a public beach named after their co-star Dan Blocker, who had died in 1972. Today that property is called Dan Blocker Beach, and it was donated by California to the county of Los Angeles in 1995 with several other neighboring parcels.

In 2015, Michael's widow, Cindy Landon, spent $7.5 million on a mansion above Malibu's Broad Beach and completely renovated the home. In 2018, Cindy listed the home for sale for $18 million but did not find a buyer. She subsequently rented the house for $100,000 per month until television tycoon Seth MacFarlane bought the home for $15.7 million in 2019.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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