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  A New Love          

Michael & Lynn Landon - January 12th 1963

 

The following are extracts from articles on Michael and Lynn.

By James Gregory (1963)

  “I discovered too late that you can’t be a father first and a husband second. It has to be the other way around.” This is the lesson Mike Landon learned after four unhappy years of knowing he was married to one woman and in love with another. “I love my wife Lynn very much,” he said. “But when I married Dodie, my first wife, I think it was mainly because I wanted to be a father to her son, Mark.”  Acting jobs were few and far between for Mike in those days. Yet when he finally became a star of “Bonanza” and the show climbed into the top ten, the problems he and Dodie shared were not solved. If anything, they were amplified. For now they didn’t have their joint struggle against hardship to hold them together, and they found that their real problems were inside the marriage, and not caused by poverty alone. Dodie once told me, “Michael and I have nothing in common except the children. He has his life and I have mine.” She seemed to think that this was a good enough basis for marriage, but Mike wanted more. He wanted love – the love between a man and a woman. He found it in Marjorie Lynn Noe, a slim, blonde ex-model who had been married and divorced and had a small daughter. “I met Lynn four years ago,” he told me. “She came on the Bonanza set one day, just as a visitor, and we were introduced.” From the very first, Mike and Lynn were attracted to each other, but there didn’t seem to be much hope of their relationship becoming anything permanent. For it quickly became clear to Lynn that Mike was devoted to young Mark – and later, to Josh and Jason as well. It was ironic that this young man, who had no children of his own, was so devoted to his adopted children that he was willing to continue in an unhappy marriage just so he could be a father to them. Lynn didn’t want to do anything that might cause Mike to lose custody of his young adopted family, for she knew how much the children meant to him. And she was content to meet him occasionally and hope that somehow, someday, things would work out for them. But over three years there was no improvement in the situation. Instead, it grew more intolerable as the two fell more deeply in love and realized they might never belong to each other. Finally Lynn felt the situation was hopeless. She decided to make an abrupt break with Mike – if only because she couldn’t stand to see him divided between his love for his adopted sons and his love for her. So she agreed to marry Mannie Baier, a sales representative for a clothing firm. Michael, hoping this might bring her happiness at last, reluctantly let her go. The wedding took place in November, 1961. But no sooner was Lynn married than she realized she’d made a horrible mistake. She couldn’t escape her problems this way. She couldn’t make herself forget Mike by marrying another man. Mike saw it too, and now he knew it was his turn to act. He asked Dodie for a divorce, although it meant he might lose the sons who meant so much to him. Sometimes you had to risk everything, he decided, if life was to be worth living at all. But it was rough. And as rough as anything, in Mike’s eyes, was the publicity that accompanied his break-up with Dodie. In fact, he is still so bitter about it that it was only with reluctance that he agreed to do the interview for this story, which tells for the first time his own account of his romance with Lynn and their life together today.  The bad publicity and public disapproval reached their peak a short time after the Landons separation, when – in May, 1962 – Lynn’s husband named Mike in a cross-complaint to her divorce suit. (She had sued for divorce in March.) Mike’s voice was bitter as he recalled that period. “The press ran a bunch of bad articles about me being named in his suit – but did they ever bother to write that the suit was dropped? No! And it was dropped because there was no case. Lynn herself got the divorce on the grounds of incompatibility – it was as simple as that.” But although his memories of that time are not pleasant, Mike would go through it all again if he had to. “My attorney was talking about the morals clause in my contract when I was named in that suit. I said, “Let them fire me. I’ll go drive a milk truck – I’ll do anything. I wouldn’t care.” In January of this year, after Dodie had gotten a divorce, Lynn and Mike were married in Juarez.

  “I’ve got five kids now,” he said happily, “and Lynn and I hope to have more. Although I was afraid at the time of the separation that I’d lose the boys, it hasn’t worked out that way. Lynn and I have been living in an apartment in Hollywood, but it’s too small when all the kids are there. So we’re now buying a big house that will have plenty of room not only for the two girls but also for the boys, as often as we can have them. It’s on an acre and a half of ground in Encino and has a huge pool. Cheryl’s a wonderful girl, and as for Leslie, the baby – she’s fabulous,” Mike grinned. “She’s a beautiful baby with big eyes. She’s got a huge amount of energy, and the greatest personality in the world, even though she’s less than a year old.”

 

                        

(April 1963)

  It was only a couple of months ago that Landon told our correspondent in Hollywood: “Last December, Lynn and I made up our minds to get married after knowing each other for 10 months.” And so Landon, Lynn Noe and her parents flew down to Juarez in Mexico and were married January 12, this year. In December, however, both were still legally bound to someone else. Landon was forced to fly to Juarez for the marriage because his divorce to first wife Dodie was still pending. Lynn, however, was still married to a Mr. Mannie Baier. On the inquiry how long, Landon turns to his wife: “Three months, 21 days,” she says. “I divorced him on January 12.” “Last year, Lynn, 1962?” “No, this year, 1963.” Which means she divorced, then married on the same day. American fan magazines, always hungry for juicy news, have made a lot of Landon’s past “love tangles.” Landon does not deny the fact that he and Lynn were in love before she married Baier, but he does not care to explain why she married another man at about the same time he and Dodie filed for divorce. Before Lynn’s whirlwind marriage to Baier, she had been married to lawyer Mike Pontrelli, by whom she had a daughter, Cheryl, aged nine.

 

By Amy Lewis (April 1963)

  One April afternoon, about five months before his divorce, a reporter, interviewing Mike Landon for the first time, asked, “What is your ultimate ambition?” It was a standard question and the reporter expected the usual eloquent expansion of the actor’s career goals. Landon stared soberly at the wilted wedge of lime on his vodka tonic for a few seconds, then he raised his head and said slowly, “To be happy. To really enjoy life.” The reporter waited for the rest of his answer, Landon waited, too. He had apparently said it all. “Don’t you feel you’ve already achieved that?” the reporter prodded. A fleeting smile tickled the corners of Landon’s mouth; it quickly retreated. “No,” he admitted, almost inaudibly. “No I really don’t think I have….” The same reporter cornered Landon early in December and the first question was, “Do you feel different, now that you are a free agent?” Landon’s immediate reaction was to echo, “Do I feel different?” And then to practically shout, “DO I feel different? You’ve got to be kidding!” Assured that the question was quiet serious, TV’s Little Joe Cartwright exploded into a long, loud fit of laughter. “Different!” he finally gasped. I’m a completely changed person, that’s all. For the first time in my life, I am very, very happy… Yes, I really am,” he added thoughtfully. “Maybe that doesn’t sound like so much of a change – but for me, it sure is!” Some of the very few people who really know Mike Landon were quick to back up that premise. “He’s definitely happier,” reported Frank Adagio, a stereotyper for the “Los Angeles Times” and Landon’s best friend. “The Mike Landon today and the Mike Landon who stayed with us last Spring are, to me, two completely different people.” Frank and his wife Angel, were the first to know of Mike’s domestic difficulties. "He came over one night and said he had a terrible headache, and would we mind if he spent the night with us. We didn’t ask what was wrong. We knew that Mike would tell us if he wanted to. And, if he didn’t that was okay, too. We sensed, then, that he didn’t want to be by himself, but he didn’t want to have to explain anything either.” The one night stretched to almost 12 weeks. “We figured it had to do with his family,” Frank said, “but we never tried to pry. Mike isn’t the type to pour out his heart – even to his closest friends. He rarely talks about himself at any time. “You can only tell he’s bugged by the way he acts. You see, Mike’s naturally a character. I mean, he likes to cut up; he has a trigger-fast sense of humour, and he’s always coming out with some sharp crack. But when he’s low, he just goes off. You can be sitting in the same room with him – on the opposite end of the couch – but you might as well be half a continent away, he’s that distant. He stayed in his private little world for weeks. We were worried… we were very worried about him. But we knew that the only way we could help, was to pretend that nothing was wrong. So, in the evenings, we’d all come in and watch TV with him. My wife would fix his favourite sandwiches –chopped liver and tongue – or, we’d order out for Chinese food, which he also likes very much. He’d try to act like the old Mike, but you could almost feel the strain. Often, in the middle of a TV show, he’d just get up abruptly, say he didn’t feel well, he had an upset stomach, or a headache, and he was going to bed. It was quite a while before he even brought up his problem. One night, Mike and I were sitting in the living room watching TV. He’d been very preoccupied ever since he got back from the studio, and we hadn’t intruded on his thoughts. I had the feeling he wasn’t even aware of the TV, or me. All of a sudden, he turned towards me, and he said, as if we were in the middle of a conversation, ‘There’s nothing quite like it – is there?’ Like what? I asked. He sighed, he shook his head, then he looked up at me with this funny half-smile and he said, very softly, ‘Having a happy family. That wife of yours Frank, and those kids – they’re too much.’ I said, Yours are pretty great, too, you know. He looked down again and he nodded and murmured, ‘Yeah, my kids are. They sure are.’ That was all he said. He just sat there, flexing his fingers and working over his knuckles, for maybe 20 minutes and then he excused himself, said he had a headache and went to bed. My wife came in and she asked, ‘Where’s Mike?’ It was quite early – around 10 p.m. He never turned in before midnight. I pointed in the direction of his bedroom, and she sighed, ‘Poor Mike. He’s so unhappy. I wish we could do something.’ Mike did try to keep that marriage together – mainly, I think, because of the kids. But it was one of those things: you go so far, but when you see it can’t possibly work – you’ve got to give, kids or no. It took Mike a good many weeks to adjust to the situation. He’s a pretty stable guy, but he sure was shook by this. I’d say that he came out of it very, very well. He hasn’t complained of a headache or an upset stomach in two months now.”

 

By Flora Rand  (1963)

  On Saturday, January 12th, 1963, in the tourist-frenzied border town of Juarez, Mexico, the tragic cloud of scandal that had hovered over Mike Landon and Marjorie Lynn Noe Baier was abruptly lifted – or so everyone hoped. On that day, three remarkable events – not usually tied so closely in time – took place. Mike, who stars on NBC-TV as “Bonanza’s” Little Joe, got a Mexican divorce from his wife of seven years, Dodie. Lynn, as she is usually called, likewise divorced her husband, Mannie Baier. And Mike and Lynn were quickly and quietly married to each other. But… there is still a tangle of charges and counter-charges to be answered. There is still a question as to the legality of the divorces and marriage in the States.

 

 

By James Gregory (September 1964)

  It’s true! Mike Landon got married for the third time! The wedding was in Reno, Nev., on May 16 and the bride was his wife – beautiful, blonde Lynn. “Our first marriage was a  quickie – in Juarez, Mexico – because I had to be back the Monday morning after the weekend we got married,” Mike explained. This time around the Landons shared a private, civil ceremony in their hotel suite with less than ten guests – including Lynn’s parents and Dan Blocker and his wife. They chose Reno cause that’s where Mike received the 1964 Silver Spurs Award as “The Most Popular TV Western Star,” and because Nevada is the local of Bonanza. Mike wore a business suit, Lynn a beige afternoon dress.

 

By Tex Maddox (1965)

  What is it really like to be married to a handsome Bonanza “bachelor”?

  “Mike doesn’t eat at all until dinnertime,” Lynn disclosed. “He makes himself coffee before he dashes off to work and I’m forever finding an empty cup in his car. This noon he’s over at the studio gym, as usual, taking the exercises that make him feel great. But by evening he’s hungry and then eats too much all at once, I think. For a week he’ll tell me, ‘Fix whatever you want.’ When he has any time off, though, our kitchen at night looks like a hurricane hit us. Mike can’t resist surprising me with his specialties, and has at least a dozen irresistible ones he’s aching to prepare himself. Generally, he wants to go marketing with me, he selects the thickest steaks and all sorts of spices he can season with. Mike is a Democrat and I’m a registered Republican but I’m not stubborn about voting. If I were, I imagine Mike would tune in on a late show horror movie. We’re crazy about those silly, spooky ones and they do make real life circumstances calm by comparison! Mike has never let me – or anyone else – drive when he’s in a car.   He was disturbed when I didn’t play bridge as well as he does, but since we’ve solved that by making it the women vs. the men I don’t have to worry about that. Mike was singing on the stage of an amusement park in Connecticut and I was watching from the wings. He ended up with an athletic rollover. And his pants split right up the back then. He had no underwear on, but he’s worn some ever since then!”

 

 

By William Tusher - (February 1965)

  Every morning, as dawn’s early light filters into the San Fernando Valley, Michael Landon looks in on his infant son. He tiptoes into the nursery next to the master bedroom he shares with his lovely wife Lynn, talks fearless baby-talk, lets the infant enclose his forefinger in a chubby little hand, “chuckles” him under the chin-to use Mike’s own word-and then goes to the studio with a singing sense of well-being. When Mike compares his son with daughter Leslie at the same age, it ends up-despite papa’s studiedly stoic tones-as a celebration of the baby’s budding masculinity…."His appetite is double what hers was," Mike says. "He’s a huskier baby than she was. He’s all boy, and she was all girl. She’s very feminine-looking. She has dainty hands and feet. And he has great big hands and great big feet. He looks like a boy."

 

By Lynn Landon (August 1966)

  When Mike and I got married three years ago, we made a pact never to be separated from each other. To accomplish this, we have spent a lot of money, hired servants to keep the house and watch the children, and travelled together over tens of thousands of miles to rodeos and fairs and foreign countries. It gets hectic, and naturally it’s not all peaches and cream. But generally speaking, we are very secure and happy. I’m sure all wives know what I mean when I say it can get lonely when your husband works long hours and is away from home. Mike gets up very early in the morning, about five, and doesn’t get home until seven or eight in the evening. The most frightening time I had was when Mike was mobbed in New Jersey. We were on vacation in Atlantic City. One night we wanted to simply go for a stroll down the boardwalk and to the beach in the moonlight. We never made it. About two blocks down the boardwalk, he was recognized and soon a mob gathered out of nowhere – and they got out of hand and started pulling off his clothes and yanking out his hair. It was frightening for me. I don’t see how Mike smiled through it all and kept calm until the police arrived to get him out. When we don’t have to go on tour on behalf of the series, we play bridge with friends here at home. Occasionally we go out to a nightclub, sometimes with Dan and Dolphia Blocker. You know, it’s strange the way people treat Dan in public. All the hecklers and drunks seem to pick on him. It’s because of his tremendous size, I think. They want to act smart and tough. Of course, Dan could knock their blocks off. But Mike is never bothered that way. I think it’s because of his young, good boy role on “Bonanza.” People are very friendly to him. And I always have the glamorous aspects to look forward to. There is a lot of glamour to being the wife of a celebrity. We get preferential treatment and most people are extremely nice to us. I like going to the premieres and award dinners, stepping out of the chauffeured Cadillac limousine and having the spotlight going and the fans cheering for Mike. It kind of embarrasses him, but he enjoys it secretly. I like to go to all the glamorous affairs, and to the rodeos and personal appearances because otherwise – it’s just like being the wife of any working man. There’s no difference in Mike’s work than any man’s work – except for the element of glamour. Just like everyone, though, we like to get away from it all, the parties and the tours and the routine day to day existence. More than anything we love to spend a quiet weekend at our sea cottage in Laguna, south of Los Angeles on the coast. It’s very comfortable there. Our little house is built on stilts above the water and we have a glorious view of the ocean and the cliffs and the coves. At night, we barbeque our dinner on the veranda and cuddle up around the fireplace and listen to the surf hitting the rocks. It’s just the two of us there…and the Ponderosa is worlds away.

 

Mike’s Answers (May 1967)

  Have you ever fooled your wife? Only for a few minutes when I’ve teased her, as I do anyone I like a lot. I phone her from the studio several times a day, so we can tell each other how we feel about what’s happening. The other afternoon she couldn’t figure out why a man with a French accent was calling, or what he was saying – until I chuckled.

  What are your special preferences for an evening out? Both of us find cocktail parties boring. For some strange reason, too many people are invited to jam in noisily and you can’t have a satisfying conversation or be comfortable. Why must everyone stand? Lynn only drinks Coke, so we manoeuvre for a seat somewhere and talk into assorted navels. We enjoy seeing friends more leisurely. Twenty guests at most seem plenty. We like to dance, but still have danced only with each other since we realized we were in love. I don’t believe it’s wrong for married couples to dance with others, but every situation is different. For us, that could cause jealousy. Do you have a favourite song and band? Our song is ‘If Ever You Should Leave Me.’ We probably play our Shirley Bassey and Vic Damone albums most often when it’s time for singers on our stereo. We don’t want music constantly, though it can be piped through the house. Silence is soothing.

 

 

By Tex Maddox (November 1969)

  Lynn Landon was horrified by the sound of a terrible crash and then total silence. The shrieks of delight from her little daughter and son stopped with chilling abruptness. She rushed to the bathroom off the master bedroom in the Landon home, where Mike had been letting Leslie Ann and Little Mike rollick in the sunken Roman tub’s bubbly suds. Stunned, they all stared at him, unable to utter a word. Mike lay on his back on the marble floor. Lynn instantly saw the blood gushing from his right foot. “I slipped on some stray soap,” Mike later admitted calmly and motioned towards the walled-in miniature garden he made for Lynn to enjoy looking at when she bathes. Lynn realized at the time of the accident that the tall sliding glass door to the garden had been broken into hundreds of jagged pieces by the force of Mike’s bare leg. His wan smile didn’t soothe her. She says that scare this year was the worst one she’s ever had. He seemed to be bleeding to death. Sensing she was about to be hysterical, he added with quiet authority, “Go get something for a tourniquet.” As she ran out wildly to do that, he assured the children that he’d be fine. Lynn returned with the first thing she’d reached for in the linen closet, a king-size sheet. Mike coolly tore it into bandages to stem his flow of blood and told her to drive him to Encino’s emergency hospital. She fought her panic every block of the way. He wouldn’t let her remain while the glass was picked out and the cuts were closed with fifty stitches. Afterwards a mutual friend observed that perhaps every wife should take a first aid course. Lynn agreed immediately. But Mike doesn’t prescribe one for her. “I’m sorry I frightened her so. In high school she was excused from biology lab classes because she couldn’t watch a frog being dissected. She’s far too soft-hearted to shine in surgery. What I get from my wife is much more important. I want her to go on enchanting and inspiring me! Until I found Lynn, I hid the loneliness I hated. She’s my reason and reward for everything I try to accomplish. I can’t understand a husband who takes a wife who’s really wonderful for granted. That’s a major mistake.” 

  Cynics who claim a happy marriage is an impossible dream in today’s crazy world ought to meet the most romantic couple in Hollywood. For eight years Mike has happily built his personal life around the woman he adores. “I’m realistic!” he asserts. “At first we were equally jealous. Lynn never flirted with anyone else, but when a man glanced at her admiringly I imagined I was going to lose her. I’d discovered the only person who could make my life complete, so that thought made me miserable.” She recognized that a star like Mike was a target for every aggressive female. When he persuaded Lynn she could trust him, she saw he’d never been spoiled. Never a playboy, Mike’s conception of love and his desire to be responsible for those he cares for kept him from squandering his manhood. He’s proudly taken her everywhere he’s travelled for personal appearances since their wedding day. This year he started his three months vacation by first taking her on a jet to Acapulco. They’ve been sentimental about that tropical paradise since their five-week honeymoon there. “Lynn taught me to water ski on the bay there during our honeymoon. This time I tried parachute riding. Heights make her shiver, so she waved from the beach when a plane pulled me up into the air. It was so peaceful to be over the bay and the city, hearing only the wind as I looked down.”

 

 

By Tex Maddox (1970)

  “We do hope to have one more baby of our own,” Mike confesses now. “Leslie’s in the third grade and our son was six in June. Each year of their lives has been, and will be, important to us. But…” Many men haven’t the faintest awareness of the joy someone like Mike can find in fatherhood. When he adopted an infant, Mike personally picked out the entire layette, crib and stroller, and painted the nursery before the tiny one left the hospital where he was born. No one recognizes Mike’s emotional needs better than Lynn. With a similar sensitivity both depend on each other wholeheartedly. Her first miscarriage hit Mike hard. Yet his sympathy for her brought them even closer. Since acknowledging their desire for one more baby, though, she has had two more miscarriages. Twice again, something no one can identify, went wrong at conception. Her doctor says Lynn has passed every kind of test. Mike vows, “We won’t feel defeated if we don’t have a third child!” Ask him why he loves his wife so much and he doesn’t stall inarticulately. “Because there’s no substitute for love. It’s what brings happiness. And, when you meet the right person, you want to be challenged to prove you can live up to what you should be able to give. Love isn’t just something you get from someone who’s thrilling!” in an era of so much cynicism these two have determinedly held onto their faith in the triumph of true love. Yet, when they started their search for it, they too were vulnerable. Mike and Lynn had learned the hard way when they plunged into marriage as teenagers which ended in divorce. She battled her divorce blues by teaching at a leading charm school in Los Angeles, by modelling fashions and doing TV commercials. He was busily acting. Although fascinated from their introduction, both Mike and Lynn were wary. She wasn’t awed by his status as an actor and Mike was a little afraid that she was an aggressive female-type. Lynn, by habit, let him make all the advances. When he was sure, he courted her as he never had wooed any woman. He’s never stopped! She reacts as he’s always felt a woman should to the man she loves, “enchantingly” he says. Their promises to each other have been fulfilled so well that the power of love has never been plainer. Mike was determined to provide their tangible security. He wanted a brand-new house, so that they could create their own memories. Their beautiful contemporary home on a hillside in Encino, California, is meticulously landscaped, and is a hospitable blending of all they’ve ever wanted together. He planted the rose garden himself to be able to pick a long-stemmed red one for Lynn when she least expects it. That melts her as much as one more piece of exquisite jewellery he brings home to mark an anniversary of an event they remember, or for no reason except his passion for pleasing her. She has never made a social date for him, or herself, without consulting him first. They’ve been taking tennis lessons from an ace coach and playing at a club they belong to. But Lynn’s still sticking to doubles with women friends. She claims she isn’t skillful enough to face Mike across a net. “I never went on a roller-coaster until she convinced me I was missing fun,” he divulges. “She taught me to water ski, but when I bought a motorcycle to ride to work soon after we married, she worried  so about a possible accident for me in traffic I sold it.

   

 

 

By Stacie Keyes (March 1972)

  Just call Michael Landon Mr. Cool! Most expectant fathers would be in a frightful mental shape if their wives were nearly 10 months along, and the stork was still out to lunch. For nearly three weeks Lynn Landon awoke each morning thinking, “This may be the day.” Sometimes she would even be rudely awakened by a playful kick or two from her unborn child. “Tell your offspring to stop kicking his mother,” she would quip to Mike. He’d tenderly pat Lynn’s stomach a couple of times and say, “Now the kid knows who is the boss.” The boyish looking actor remained calm during the long weeks of waiting for Lynn to bless the household with their third child. When she finally arrived, Shawna Leigh was worth waiting for.

    

 

 

By Tex Maddox (April 1972)

  Their baby is a true miracle, created by great love and rare courage. Their story is so surprising, as well as wonderful because seven years ago Mike had himself sterilized. While Lynn was in hospital recovering from her first miscarriage, he made up his mind to guarantee she’d never have to go through that agony again. He insisted upon his vasectomy before he took her home. Assuming all responsibility for eliminating the anxieties and dangers of an unwanted pregnancy is a special proof of any man’s devotion. Men who trumpet that they wouldn’t lose their manhood with a vasectomy are ignorant. It doesn’t lesson male virility at all. “Actually, it’s safe, simple, quick, painless with a local anaesthetic, and it’s inexpensive,” Mike points out. The glands that provide male hormones are never affected.” For a year, Mike and Lynn were fabulously fulfilled anyway.  “One day in Palm Springs Mike and I saw a cute baby being wheeled by. "He melted," she confesses. “He said, ‘We’ve got to have one more!’ I’d been as certain we were satisfied as he’d been. When he recognized what he still wanted that abruptly, so did I – I felt the same.” Reversing a vasectomy calls for a more complicated operation. It takes hours in a hospital. Mike was in pain the four days he was in a hospital after his. He and Lynn were each afraid it wouldn’t be successful, since only 40% are. Yet that couldn’t stop Mike from doing all he could. The result for the Landons showed in the test he took afterwards. The verdict was that he could be a father again! A year went by, two years – nothing! Once more, Mike persuaded her they should cease frustrating themselves. “It isn’t meant to be,” and said consolingly. And you guessed it. After not trying for a year, Mike suggested he’d be charmed if Lynn went to a specialist they’d heard about. The medicine he prescribed helped make Lynn pregnant within a month. “We were so thrilled!” she divulges. But then mysteriously, tragedy struck. “I didn’t carry past the third month. In another two months, she was pregnant, and had her third miscarriage. “Mike and I convinced ourselves after that – we wouldn’t torture ourselves with any more hope for a third child.” Eleven months passed with their resigned attitude. They were amazed and ecstatic when she conceived one more time. “I left the baby’s name up to Mike because everything he can attend to as a father fascinates him. He chose Mitchell for a boy and Shawna Leigh for a girl. It came to him while he was thinking of what could sound beautiful and I agreed it could.”

 

 

By Larry Kain (February 1975)

  You’d never think that Michael Landon, one of the most happily married men in show business, would also be one of the most jealous husbands around, but then again, you just can’t figure show people. The fact is that Mike is so jealous he won’t even leave his wife alone overnight! Mike’s not ashamed to admit to his possessive attitude about Lynn. “By nature, I’m a very jealous person,” he explains. “My wife goes everywhere with me, even if it’s a one-shot in Anchorage.” But jealously can sometimes be a dangerous thing. In Mike’s case it came close to costing him his career. After Bonanza went off the air, he passed up a number of juicy roles, because they threatened to take him away from Lynn and he just couldn’t bear to leave her. The movie offers kept rolling in, but Mike turned them all down cold, and his fans wondered if his long stint as Little Joe hadn’t turned him off to acting forever. Apparently it had not, since Mike finally ended his acting hiatus with a pilot that launched one of this season’s most popular new series. Little House on the Prairie may not have knocked the critics off their feet, but so far it’s riding high on the Nielsen charts. The series turned out to be well worth waiting for.  

 

 

By Hazel Matthews (March 1975)

  To look at him today, one gets the impression that Michael Landon has always been the picture of robust health. To watch him rushing across the tennis court of his Beverly Hills home, or racing a horse across the screen as part of the action of his Little House on the Prairie series, one is led to assume that he has always been a perfect specimen of manhood. Looking at him, listening to him now, it’s hard to believe he was once a man on the verge of destruction, that there was once a time when pain and anguish were his constant companions and life seemed too awful to endure. One person is responsible for his cure, a woman he feels he owes everything. That woman is the former Lynn Noe, whom he married in 1963. Eleven years after their hurried civil ceremony in Juarez, Mexico, Michael Landon can look back on the hell that life once represented pre-Lynn and say, “My wife saved my life.” As simple as that. And yet as complicated as the twisting/turning sub-plots of an O’Henry story. For, true, Lynn did save his life. And, true, there were moments when he felt like he was near death. But the aliments that possessed him were mental rather than physical. He was a young man who, on the surface, had it all. He had Bonanza stardom. He had a wife and children. He had a big, rambling ranch house in the Los Angeles suburb of Encino. But all those things added up to one big zero when it came to their effectiveness in counteracting his agony. Mike is a man who can’t hide pain well, particularly mental pain. He wears his emotions on his sleeve. And it reached a point where he knew such distress that his condition was becoming painfully obvious at work. Recalling those terrible days, he says, “I tried to bury myself in work – and in drink. I used those two things as substitutes for the things I really wanted.” During most of his agony, he wasn’t sure what he wanted – but he knew what he didn’t want: “I didn’t want to go home at night.” Home was where his first wife, their adopted baby, and his wife’s 13-year-old son from a previous marriage awaited his return. Home was to become a place for arguments and tension and tempers between Mike and the woman he now refers to simply as “my-ex” – with the children being torn apart emotionally by the dissension in the house. Because he didn’t want to go home, he stayed at the studio as late as possible, then would wander across the street to a bar for a drink or two – or six or seven. “I never particularly liked drinking,” he will tell you now. “But drink was an escape. I was never an alcoholic, but there was hardly a night when I didn’t get pretty plastered.”  Looking back on that anguished past of marital discord, he will say, I never got so down that I seriously considered suicide. But I wasn’t living. I was just dragging myself through life.” His emotional problems began to affect him physically, until he was suffering almost constantly from violent, agonizing migraine headaches. Doctors couldn’t help him. But then Lynn Noe came along and saved Mike Landon’s life. He is sensitive about discussing that period of time when their relationship first began, for at that time Mike was far from legally free. Though he was still married to another, he rationalized his relationship with Lynn, and will explain when pressed. “I had an arrangement with my wife. All that time when we were discussing divorce, we did what we pleased. Both of us. And for a long time, we had gone our separate ways while we still lived under one roof.” Regardless of their arrangement, Lynn was still labelled “the other woman” by many in town. But those whose opinion really counted to her knew she was no home-wrecker. As far as Mike was concerned, his home relationship had been wrecked before Lynn and he ever fell in love. “She’s responsible for the new me,” he says, flashing a smile of radiance. “I don’t drink anymore. There’s no need to. I don’t have migraine headaches anymore. I haven’t had one since Lynn and I married.”      

   

 

    

By Jane Ardmore (March 1975)

  Last night at 5:58, their dad called downstairs that it was almost time to watch the six o’clock news (a school requirement) and ten-year-old Michael and 12-year-old Leslie promptly dashed out of the house for a few seconds of last-minute play. Two minutes later, they came dashing back and Leslie in the dark, ran right into the back of a French window, punctured a hole in her head and was off to the hospital. “Just put our car in gear and it knows its way,” Michael says. “Two weeks before it was me.” It was his birthday. He’d been at the studio the day before, finishing up an episode of “Little House On The Prairie.” After all the weeks of acting, directing a number of segments and co-producing, he was going to have his birthday and then a week’s vacation with Lynn in Hawaii. But suddenly everyone’s voices seemed far away, he felt dizzy, and it was difficult to walk. So he went home, drank plenty of water to ward off what he figured was the flu, and tried to sleep it off. The next day, he felt worse. By night his temperature was 100. Downstairs his birthday celebration was in progress and the man who cooks for them was cooking up a storm. Michael didn’t want to go down and expose anyone. Twenty-five minutes later, his temperature had shot up to 103.8. He phoned the doctor, who asked some pertinent questions and diagnosed some type of meningitis. (It turned out to be encephalitis spinalitis.) Five minutes later Michael was off to the hospital to spend his eight-day vacation. “If that doesn’t show NBC how much I care!” he laughed. “The worst of it was I was contagious and no one could see me. Not even Lynn. My poor baby. She was so terrified. She doesn’t usually cry on the phone so I knew. She called a friend who knows a neurologist and got in touch with him. What could happen? He said it depended on the virus. The worst was that I’d die or be paralysed; the best that could happen would be that I’d get over it and come home, which I did.” And a few weeks before that, Lynn went in for a regular check-up and discovered she was pregnant! So, as Michael lay there, possibly at death’s very doorstep, his need to pull through became even more urgent. “The baby’s due the first week in March,” Pa says, and he is obviously surprised and delighted. “We thought Shawna would be the last one. I don’t know why I thought that (shaking his curly head) but I did. Now we’re all pretty excited. The doctor has done a new sort of test that tells you whether it’s going to be a boy or a girl, and we had a family vote at the dinner table night before last to decide whether we’d let him tell us or keep it a surprise. Leslie voted yes but everyone else voted no. So, this surprise baby will continue to be one. “And don’t think that some of our experience won’t creep into the Ingalls’ experiences on the prairie. It already has. There is an actual dialogue sequence that took place between my kids. It may seem nonsensical, but when kids are little and they tell someone at school a baby is coming, what they are told by their schoolmates is incredible. They know how a baby is born. Little kids today know everything. But some little kid tells my kid, Michael, that the way a woman has a baby is that she lays a giant egg and has to break it open with a rock. So Mike comes home with that – only, of course, he told it in such a way that he could follow it up quickly by ‘I knew all the time it wasn’t so.’ The most natural thing in the world is to adapt the relationship you have with your own kids to the family in the series. A lot of the scenes are played straight from our ‘little’ house in Beverly Hills.

 

 

 

By  Jane Ardmore (August 1975)

  “I call the new baby Louie,” Michael says, his face radiant under that mop of hair. “I don’t know why. My wife, Lynn, keeps telling me to stop, and I will when he’s old enough to know what I’m saying. Except, come to think of it, I call all the kids Louie: ‘Watcha doin’, Louie?’ They love it. They’re happy kids and they’re crazy about the new baby. Leslie (12) really wanted to have a brother. Michael (ten) wanted to have a sister, but he loves babies, loves family – he’s easy-going that way – and immediately switched to the idea of having a younger brother he can teach push-ups and the whole bit. And of course, our family is complete. Finis. There’s Cheryl Ann, who’s in college. There’s Leslie Ann, Michael Graham, Shawna Leigh (three) and now Christopher Beau – we give them second names in case they’re not too wild about the first one.”

   

 

 

By Norah Astor (August 1975)

  “From the first time I saw Michael I thought he was the most handsome man I had ever seen,” Lynn Landon remembers “There were no men who turned me on, and no one that I thought I would ever want to spend the rest of my life with until he came along.” As for Michael Landon, he still can’t think of that first glimpse of Lynn sixteen years ago without feeling a thrill: “She was wearing this funny purple Western dress with a Western hat. I thought she was so beautiful.”

 

By Eric Rosenthal (March 1976)

  To Mike, who was the product of an unhappy marriage himself, his 12-year marriage to Lynn is a miracle. “There’s no substitute for love,” he says with gravity. “It’s what brings happiness. My parents didn’t get along well. It taught me not to stay in an alliance without love. It taught me not to stay married if you don’t love one another.” Well, the Landons love one another. They have ever since they met when Mike was a kid of 21. He was acting in Bonanza. It was the first year the popular series was being aired, and Lynn, who was teaching modelling, was also working as an extra on the show. “I was extremely young,” Mike says now. “I couldn’t buy a cigarette without showing an I.D. And this girl…all of a sudden, two people can look at each other and find themselves attracted to a type of person they’ve never been attracted to before. A year and six months later we got married!”

 

(1977)

  About a year ago, when Mike Landon and Lynn, his blonde, very pretty wife, were about to move into their new red brick Beverly Hills home, Lynn wondered what she could get as a house gift for Mike. Today, if you look up at the stained glass window above the staircase leading to the bedrooms, you can see the result of her decision. The window was her gift – and on it are engraved the words, “More Than Yesterday – Less Than Tomorrow – Pumpkin.” Pumpkin is their pet name for each other, and what the stained glass window is saying plainly is “Today I love you more than I did yesterday but less than I will love you tomorrow.”

 

By Barbara Sternig (November 1979)

  Michael Landon’s secret diary reveals he was a miserably unhappy young man who turned into an obnoxious prima donna when he found overnight stardom on TV. Tormented by loneliness and fits of depression, he sought solace in pills and alcohol and vented his uncontrollable anger by starting vicious brawls with crew members on the old “Bonanza” show. “It amazes me to look back in the diary and see what a real pain in the rear I was.” But his whole life changed when he met his future wife Lynn – and his diary recorded that “red letter day” in a few touching words. “I wrote, ‘I fell in love today,’” Landon recalled. "From that day, my diary and my life changed. I mellowed and became happy and solid and wanted to do things to make Lynn proud. I began to take care of myself." Landon, who has since become a TV superstar on the long-running series “Little House on the Prairie,” admitted it still shocks him when he leafs through the diary he has kept since high school. Before the actor joined “Bonanza” in 1959, Landon began keeping his diary on a constant basis for the first time, writing down his innermost thoughts and feelings at the end of each day. “The habit was easy for me because I didn’t have anyone to talk to in the early years. I wasn’t particularly happy personally,” he recalled. “It surprises me to read in my diary about the abuse I heaped on myself. I’d hit the sauce or I’d hit the sauce and take tranquillisers at the same time. I’d go nuts if I was through work and the studio didn’t have a car waiting to take me away immediately. I’d do dumb things. I’d throw a tantrum. I’d take out my unhappiness on my fellow workers. Right in the middle of a planned and rehearsed fight scene, I’d kick in and do it for real. I’d scream profanity in the middle of filming – and not realize it at the time. “One time I was doing a fight scene with a stunt man and had no idea I was doing it for real. I’d bulldogged him off a horse and we rolled off a hill. He looked at me with the strangest look. I ran at him and we continued to fight. Afterwards, he told me he thought I was going to kill him. I mean I was a banana.” Landon was particularly vicious to the producer, Kent McCray, who has worked with him since the beginning of his show business career. “I was really rank with Kent,” he said. “And I love the man. But I know he wouldn’t be with me today if I’d stayed the pain in the rear that I was. My attitude was that everything should be my way. In side I was hurting about something that had nothing to do with show business. I just wanted bad things to happen. I wanted to have arguments, wanted to pick fights with people. I can see it in the diary. Writing about these incidents in his diary gave Landon an outlet for his feelings, a chance to be honest with himself and to reflect on his life. “If you write down enough things that upset you, you realize you can spend your whole life being upset about junk. The heart of my diary is: “Don’t be devastated if you have a few unhappy days and you don’t understand why. Everybody goes through that. I wanted to be upset about something but there was nothing important so I misdirected my rage. I had thought I’d be a star and that was going to make me happy. The trouble is it’s very frustrating to find out success doesn’t mean a damn thing. There is no link between success and happiness anywhere in my diary. Happiness was something else entirely, and Landon learned about it the day he met Lynn. “You better believe I wrote it in my diary,” he said. “It was a critical thing to find the person I could share my life with, the thing that changed me most. The revelation that hit me when I met Lynn was that I could be a very happy person. Before that, I didn’t have a faith that I would find someone to love. In fact, I had a faith that I would find pleasure solely from pretending to be someone else. That’s why I liked acting so much. But from that one day, everything in the diary was different. My reflections became more positive. And the things I enjoyed were simpler. Just being together was fun. I handled my temper better. I got along with people much better. Now I don’t have to make a stunt fight into a real fight to release my frustration. Now I go home – because that’s where I can talk about it."

   

 

By Tony Brenna and Donna Rosenthal (July 8 1980)

  Michael Landon – Hollywood’s most famous family man – is having a torrid affair with a makeup artist half his age, say insiders. The ruggedly handsome “Little House On The Prairie” star confessed the affair to his beautiful wife Lynn about a month ago. Insiders say the 43-year-old actor jumped into the affair about six months ago when he began suffering from “mid-life crisis.” He broke the news of the affair to his wife because ‘he’s a straight-shooting guy and he just couldn’t live with the lie his romance was making of his life with Lynn,” said a source. “Lynn was shocked and furious and she told him it’s either her or me.” Michael moved out. “He’s living in an apartment on the beach near Malibu.” Landon’s wife had her suspicions about Michael running around – even before he made his startling confession, said the source. “She had hired a firm of private detectives to monitor his movements. But he decided to be honest with Lynn before he knew of the detectives and before they found anything. The rupture of the Landons’ marriage exploded like a bombshell. Many people considered them to be the ideal Hollywood couple with a picture-perfect marriage.

 

By Tony Brenna, Ken Potter & Donna Rosenthal (May 5 1981)

  Michael Landon is living two lives! He spends his weekdays nestled in a posh beach house, carrying on a sizzling romance with his stunning young live-in-lover. Then on weekends she leaves, and Landon becomes the all-American daddy, romping on the beach and sailing with his children. Landon – who spent years polishing his image as Hollywood’s most devoted family man – shocked the show biz world when he walked out on his wife Lynn, and their four children 10 months ago. Then, on April 16, he filed for divorce, citing ‘irreconcilable differences.’ “At first he made arrangements to see the children at his Beverly Hills home,” a friend of Landon said. “But his visits were not successful because of the tension between him and Lynn.” In fact, the friend said, Leslie, 17, Michael Jr., 15, Shawna, 8, and Christopher, 5, remained cool toward Landon until he moved into a rented house on Malibu beach, where he felt they could get reacquainted. Now he’s bought a $2.5 million home on the beach – which during the week is a love nest for him and Cindy, but on weekends belongs to Landon and his children. “It was only at the beach that their common love of the sea, sailing and fishing brought Michael and his children together in the old way again,” the friend said. “Michael knows the hurt they feel over him leaving their mother. But he thinks that sailing and fishing are the best medicine for their mutual problems. “He’s starting up a whole new phase of his relationship with the children – and that means Cindy will not be present.” When the weekend comes, Cindy disappears from the scene to avoid embarrassment when the children arrive, sources say. “She will do anything for him, even though it means playing second fiddle to his children on weekends. If Cindy were to complain, it would jeopardize their relationship. She’s extremely patient, and her patience had paid off. She’s got the man she loves.” Landon’s estranged wife, Lynn, gave her husband an “it’s-her-or-me” ultimatum when his affair came into the open – but sources say she still would have taken him back. “Lynn’s been hoping Michael would come to his senses, but that girl got a hold over him and won’t let go. We’re all in a state of shock,” said a close relative of Lynn. Landon’s friend defended the divorce action, saying “Michael’s a very honorable man. He knew his marriage was washed up, and he was sick of not being able to put Cindy on public display. He wants to show off his new love to everyone.”  

   

 

(April 1982)

  A claim for $74,000 a month for living expenses by Michael Landon’s ex-wife Lynn, has given a mind-boggling insight into the lifestyle of the superstar families of Hollywood. Lynn divorced from Landon last year and still battling for a share of his estimated $40 million fortune, says she needs this each month to keep herself, her home and her children in the manner to which they are accustomed. In court papers obtained by the STAR, Lynn claimed Landon earned $665,113 a month – and of that, she needed $74,469 to keep her body and soul together. Clothes for herself and her children, she said, cost $8,600 each month. The monthly food and drink bill was $3,257. She needed $6,431 for travel, her children another $3,735 – and that did not include auto expenses, which soaked up another $5000. Domestic help, Lynn estimated, cost $2,967 a month, entertainment another $2,500. Security services cost  $3,820 and medical expenses $2,840 each month. Lynn’s lawyers revealed that the Landons had reached an agreement on temporary support payments after Lynn’s estimates had been filed with the court. In those papers Lynn said her personal expenses amounted to $23,118 each month, while those of her children came to $23,191. Household expenses added another $28,160. A lack of cooperation has been a prominent feature of the divorce proceedings and Lynn had to subpoena Michael’s business manager to find out how much her husband was worth. The depth of anger and bitterness surrounding the divorce has shocked many who thought the Landons’ 18-year marriage was one of the most idyllic in Hollywood.  

 

 

 

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