As a teenager in Collingswood, N.J., Eugene Orowitz (a.k.a. Michael Landon) discovered he had a talent for javelin throwing. He received a scholarship to UCLA, though a torn ligament put an end to his athletic career. He soon began taking parts in B movies, eventually landing the starring role in 1957's I Was a Teenage Werewolf
. At age 21, he was cast as Joseph "Little Joe" Cartwright and became a TV star. After a decade on Bonanza
, Landon began writing and directing episodes, including a solemn two-parter dedicated to his late friend and castmate, Dan Blocker ("Hoss"). With his varied talents, Landon later created the hugely successful series Little House on the Prairie
, based on the Laura Ingalls Wilder books of the same name. Audience and critics alike praised him for his on- and off-camera work. After eight years, the series aired its last episode on March 21, 1983.
Landon next chose a different path with the NBC fantasy-drama Highway to Heaven
. As Jonathan Smith, he played the role of an angel sent back to earth to help save the souls of children. His Little House
co-star and good friend Victor French also starred in the show. After five seasons and the death of French, Landon abruptly ended his work on the show in 1989. With a career of righteous roles under his belt, Landon had developed a strong reputation for shepherding wholesome and moral programming.
In 1991, after 35 years on NBC, he was released from his contract. Later that year he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away July 1, 1991.
As the patriarch of the household, Charles Ingalls is fiercely loyal and dedicated to providing a better life for his family. The loving and protective husband and father is determined to make a better life for his family after uprooting his wife and three young daughters from Wisconsin to the banks of Plum Creek near the small town of Walnut Grove, Minnesota. A meticulous farmer and woodsman, Charles (or Pa to his children) often takes on multiple jobs just to make ends meet. But without the necessary money to pay for many of his farming supplies, Charles has been known to use his talented skills for woodworking in exchange for the needed provisions. In spite of his drive and faith to persevere on the American Frontier, Charles is forced to manage the social, economical and circumstantial obstacles that frequently obstruct his path. But with the constant love and support of his family, he is able to uphold the strength of will needed to pursue his dreams.