Michael Landon; the beloved star of classic series such as Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie, died thirty years ago of pancreatic cancer at age 54. On the anniversary of his passing on July 1, 1991, his daughter spoke to People about the importance of being proactive, prioritizing health and making time for early illness detection.
Severe stomach pain led to Landon’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, but there may have been earlier signs.
“When my dad didn’t feel good — if something didn’t feel right — he tended to ignore it, hoping that it would go away,” she said, adding that he was always busy working,
“He was a busy man burning the candle at both ends. I think his own health got put on the back burner.”
“Because we knew how my dad was with his own health, we kids do the opposite,” she says. “We’re like, ‘Something doesn’t seem right, let’s look into it.’ Information is power and it allows you to make choices about your health when you know what you’re dealing with. Fear tends to paralyze people.”
As for the legacy Michael Landon left behind:
“I feel like the takeaway was loving one another and accepting people for who they are. I think he was very proud of the fact that he could bring families together to watch entertainment that was going to bring a wide range of emotions,” Matthew says, adding that her dad was also a family man off-screen. “I think he would be disappointed at how families today disengage from each other. He would tell people, ‘Put your phone down. Sit around the dinner table and talk.'”