Boyishly handsome, immensely popular TV star who appeared in occasional films, including the now-camp classic "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" (1957). Landon made his name as the romantic, impulsive youngest Cartwright brother, Little Joe, on the long-running hit "Bonanza" (1959-73), the first TV western broadcast in color and the number one series for seven consecutive seasons. Although he had scripted several episodes of "Bonanza", he sought complete authority over his next series, the wholesome family saga "Little House on the Prairie" (1974-82), in which he starred as frontier homesteader Charles Ingalls. Landon created the series and often directed and scripted episodes, which he imbued with his views on "faith" and "family".
Landon next produced and starred as Jonathan, the probationary angel whose mission is to bring love and understanding to people in trouble, on "Highway to Heaven" (1984-88). He also produced, wrote and directed the TV series "Father Murphy" and numerous TV movies including "The Loneliest Runner (1976), based on incidents in his own life, and the autobiographical feature film "Sam's Son" (1984), about a champion javelin thrower. Landon died from pancreatic cancer after a long, prominently media-covered but nonetheless dignified struggle at the age of 54.