Growing up, Little House on the Prairie was extremely popular, both the books and the television series. I was a book fanatic even back then and read the whole series. We also watched the television show during summer time reruns. I loved Laura’s character and who didn’t love Charles Ingalls, as played by Michael Landon!
This series is fantastic for home learning as it teaches so much about the life of the early Pioneers. Izzy (9) and I started delving into the Little House on the Prairie TV series. And now we’re also reading through the series.
The complete books series of Little House on the Prairie is a wonderful set of living literature to teach children about the times and trials of early pioneer life in America. There are 9 books in total.
This series fits in well with a Charlotte Mason style learning as they would be considered Living Books. Not sure what a living book is? Come learn more at How do you know if a book is a living book?
We have just begun reading the series and we read a chapter a day during our morning basket time. Not sure what morning basket time is? Take a look at this guest post I wrote for Encouraging Moms at Home.
These books have been a great follow up to our study on the pioneer life. We used A Pioneer Sampler for our initial study. This book follows the story of a pioneer family and the tasks they had to do on their early homestead, the struggles they had, and basics of daily life. It contains excellent activities to tie together the information presented in the stories.
The television series for Little House on the Prairie, adapted from the books, is also a wonderful family show. My son Izzy (9) spend some quality one on one time curled up on the couch together learning about pioneers. There are many sensitive topics that come up in the series but they are always handled in a wholesome and positive manner. I also really appreciate the Christian perspective that is maintained throughout the show.
We are three seasons in and Izzy has really come to appreciate each of the characters in the show. So, I figured it was time to expand our learning.
Therefore, we are going to take a look at the life and career of Michael Landon, who played one of TV’s top 50 greatest father figures, Charles Ingalls.
Michael Landon, son to Eli Orowitz and Peggy O’neill was originally born as Eugene Maurice Orowitz in Queens, New York on October 31st, 1936. He seemed destined to entertainment right from birth! His father managed a movie theatre and his mother was an actress. He also had a sister, Evelyn, who was 3 years older.
The family moved to Collingswood, New Jersey when Michael was just a boy. In high school, he was very athletic and excelled as a champion javelin thrower. He later won a track scholarship to the University of Southern California where he studied for a year before injuring his should.
Mr. Landon then moved on to study acting at the Warner Brothers acting school in Los Angeles. There he changed his name to Michael Landon – a name he picked randomly out of the local phone book.
At the age of 22, Michael Landon got his first big break, scoring the role of Little Joe in the television series “Bonanza”.
This was a western series that ran for 14 seasons (1959-1973). During his time on the series he also had the opportunity to try his hand at directing. When Bonanza was cancelled, he moved onto the popular western TV series, “Little House on the Prairie”.
Mr. Landon was approached by the TV network to be involved with the directing of their newest western TV series, “Little House on the Prairie”. After reading the script he fell in love with the story and also decided to play one of the main characters, Charles Ingalls.
Mr. Landon was an executive producer, producer, writer, director, and actor for Little House on the Prairie. The show became one of the most popular dramas in television history. It also won many awards.
The series, Little House, has become well renowned for its wholesome morals. Mr. Landon worked very hard to keep it as accurate to the time period as he could. He also kept the feeling of the show focussed around the beauty of a solid family. Little House ran from 1974-1983.
Michael Landon believed that Little House on the Prairie held onto fundamental values like family, community, and love for other people. These values continue to resonate with people today. That’s why even decades after the shows cancellation, it still continues to air in reruns.
After Little House on the Prairie finished airing, Michael Landon moved on to the television series: Highway to Heaven. In this series he played the character Jonathon Smith, an angel living on Earth, doing the work of God to save people’s lives.
During the fifth season, Victor French, one of the main characters on the show, died from lung cancer. Victor French and Michael Landon were long time friends. Instead of replacing his good friend on the show, Michael chose to cancel the series. Victor French also starred in Little House on the Prairie as Isaiah Edwards.
In April of 1991 Michael Landon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He passed away only 3 months later on July 1st, 1991.
Today he is remembered worldwide for his major television appearances. However, he is also remembered for the kind and loving person that he was.
He learned karate from Chuck Norris.
In 1954 he was the national high school record holder in the javelin throw.
Michael wrote with his left hand.
In the “Little House on the Prairie” books, Charles Ingalls always had a beard. Michael Landon was unable to grow a full beard and opted to play his role clean shaven.
You can learn more about his acting career at his IMDb Biography page.
Take a peek at the official Little House on the Prairie website to learn more about his roles with the show.
Wikipedia also has a pretty extensive page about Michael Landon.
Remember me with smiles and laughter, for that’s the way I’ll remember you all.
IF you can only remember me with tears, then don’t remember me at all.
2. Using an atlas, locate Michael Landon’s birth town of Queen’s, New York on a map. Now find Collingswood, New Jersey. Calculate the distance between these two cities.
3. Michael was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Look up where the pancreas is and what it does. Older children could also research information on pancreatic cancer; it’s causes, prognosis, treatment options.
4. Michael Landon’s father was Jewish and his mother was Irish Catholic. Discuss the major differences in these two religions. How might these differences have attributed to family problems between his parents who were known to fight a lot.
5. He won awards for his involvement in javelin throwing. What are the rules for this sport and where does it originate from?
The iHomeschool Network runs a wonderful series of unit studies for homeschoolers based on people born in a particular month. Come and see who else you can celebrate in your homeschool this month.
I hope you enjoyed learning about this unique character as much as I did! Let me know what you enjoyed the most – or what you would like to still know about him. Leave me a comment below – I always enjoy reading what you have to say!
Subscribe now to join our community and receive encouragement, tips & tricks and more to support your homeschooling right in your inbox!