Michael Landon Said His Mother Asked God to Kill Him

Michael Landon is known for playing a family man on the show Little House on the Prairie. However, he reportedly grew up in a family that was very different from his TV household. Landon once revealed his mother asked God to kill him.  

Michael Landon grew up around family conflict

Michael Landon with Johnny Carson| Joey Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank .
Michael Landon with Johnny Carson| Joey Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank

Landon’s parents, Peggy O’Neill and Eli Orowitz, were an unhappy couple, according to Tom Ito’s book Conversations with Michael Landon. Many of their conflicts arose because of religious differences. O’Neill, who was Catholic, “devoutly hated Jews.” Orowitz was Jewish and he had an issue with Catholics. This resulted in a tense family life.

Landon says he had a difficult childhood because of his mother’s behavior. The conflict between his parents combined with what was described in the book as his mother’s “violent eccentricities” made his early life tough.  

Michael Landon said his mother was a ‘wacko’ and she wanted him to die

Michael Landon in a scene from Little House on the Prairie |  Bruce Birmelin/NBCU Photo Bank
Michael Landon in a scene from Little House on the Prairie | Bruce Birmelin/NBCU Photo Bank

During a 1987 interview with Redbook, Landon spoke about some of his early experiences with his mother. “She was a stabber, a kicker, and a wacko,” said Landon. “She was off her rocker. She was very abusive. My mother would sit on the sofa in her nightgown – she always wore her nightgown when she was upset—holding a Bible, asking God to kill me.”   

Landon said his mother’s true personality wasn’t evident to those who didn’t know her well. According to him, she could be charming around strangers. He said she was “a wonderful person” to people who didn’t really know her. However, he said whenever people would tell him how sweet his mother was, he would think about the time she chased him with a knife. “I was jumping fences in front of the neighbors and trying to escape,” he told the publication.

The Little House on the Prairie star was so anxious that he later began to wet his bed. He revealed this information in his 1976 TV movie The Loneliest Runner. Landon tried to make up for his troubled childhood by being a good father to his nine children.

How did Michael Landon die?

Landon died on July 1, 1991, at the age of 54, soon after being diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer. According to Associated Press, he told Life magazine he wasn’t afraid to die but he planned to “fight like hell” to live. One way he tried to lengthen his life was through experimental therapies.

“The father of nine has been undergoing an experimental therapy that pits drug-dispensing bubbles of fat against the tumor in his pancreas,” reports AP.

Associated Press highlighted some memorable quotes from Landon’s Life interview. At one point, Landon said death was going to have to fight hard to get him. “I’m not the kind of person who gives up without a fight,” he told Life. “If I’m gonna die, death’s gonna have to do a lot of fighting to get me.”

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