Michael Landon, The Father I Knew


Michael Landon, Jr. as a child (Shawn Pyfrom) living a comfortable and happy life with his family; his father, Michael Landon, Sr., mother, Lynn Noe, and his elder sister, Leslie. Michael Sr. is a compassionate and loving father who dotes on his children and, when Lynn announces a new baby is on the way, the family moves to a larger house in the San Fernando Valley.

As the family grows and life begins to change, Michael Sr. becomes dissatisfied with his career and home life and his desire to fulfill his own needs begins to take precedent over those of his wife and children. Soon, a now teenage Michael Jr. and the rest of the Landon family learn that Michael, Sr. has begun an extra-marital romance with Little House on the Prairie make-up artist, Cindy, prompting Michael Sr. to eventually divorce Lynn and marry the younger woman.

Feeling rejected, a now young adult Michael Jr. (Joel Berti) begins to struggle in his college classes and turns to alcohol, while his sister Leslie develops bulimia, believing that her estranged father might take more of an interest in her if she were thinner. After dropping out of school and overcoming his alcohol dependency, Michael Jr. eventually meets his future wife while working on the set of Highway to Heaven and the young couple are soon married. However, the newlywed's happiness is short-lived when Michael, Jr. learns that his father has been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. In one of their final conversations, Michael Sr. discloses the truth of his own unstable childhood, which may have been part of the reason for his irrational behavior and turbulent family life as an adult.