The good they die young

The above video is offered just for enjoyment. It is blurry but the sound quality is good. It is Michael Landon’s final appearance on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on 5-9-1991. Prior to this appearance he had announced to the public that he had inoperable cancer of the pancreas and liver, and was a short-timer. He died on July 1, 1991. I cannot make anything of those numbers. It is a delightful interview.*

Or did he … on this blog, celebrity deaths are always taken with a grain of salt. 53 days after this appearance, he was gone. I don’t have any evidence that his death was a hoax. And, I have another purpose here.

Landon was born Eugene Maurice Orowitz on October 31, 1936. He was a real Bar Mitzvahed Jew. His family tree reminds me of my own, going back a couple of generations and then into question marks. His mother was the daughter of John and Peggy O’Neill, said to be a dancer and comedienne. Maybe that is where Landon got the show business bug. I don’t see anything out of the ordinary here, but maybe readers can fill me in. As I said, I have another purpose here.

Of course, I have only seen him when he is performing, as in the video above. But some elements of a personality come through, and he seems to have a welcoming manner and delightful sense of humor. His laugh is infectious, and he smiles on meeting everyone. I first came to know him as a kid watching a TV show called Bonanza, where he played Little Joe Cartwright. He would later star in two other series that I did not see, Little House on the Prairie, and Highway to Heaven.

Landon French
Michael Landon and Victor French

Highway to Heaven is available on Netflix, all 111 episodes of it. I started watching months ago, and found them to be the antidote to modern television, each episode having a positive message and happy ending. Much of it is saccharine and melodramatic, predictable and heart-tugging. “God” is one of the characters, though never seen. Of course I like it! I hate when I turn on a show or movie only to find people betraying and harming one another, but that seems an essential plot device anymore. No one ever can be trusted. So much of what is available on Netflix is so dark!

So I am a Pollyanna. I own up to it.

More than a few times characters in Highway have cancer or are facing loss of a loved one, possibly predictive programming. Landon’s character, Jonathon Smith, is a “probationary angel,” and is sent to earth to resolve various situations where people are in trouble, pain or suffering. He and his costar, Mark Gordon (Victor French) by powers vested in Jonathon, appear in these people’s lives as carpenters, painters, gardeners, coaches, teachers or counselors. They fix things up, and then leave. Smith, as an angel, does not need food or sleep. Gordon, a human who does not have “the stuff” that Smith has (the ability to perform miracles), is nonetheless Jonathon’s constant companion.

Highway to Heaven may have been the last television series that was based on the premise that people are good and kind, and that there is a God. Each episode resolved difficulties. Bad people either changed or got just deserts. Characters were normally smart and observant and set a good example for viewers. Violence was rare, and since Smith was invincible, easily resolved.

Landon died on July 1, 1991 at age 54. Victor French, his costar, died of lung cancer (a three-month illness) on June 15, 1989, at age 54.

And that is what makes me suspicious. The only positive force in the vast wasteland of television, and both stars die of cancer, and young. It is almost as if they were ushered out. There would be other popular shows with an upbeat message, like Full House and Fresh Prince, but never again would a show deal directly with spirituality or be built on the premise that people are good and want to do the right thing for themselves and others.

The show had a nice run, but then its stars dying young and two years apart … is possible, of course, but statistically highly unlikely, so much so that I suspect one or both deaths were fake.

But I cannot prove a thing. It seems the good they die young.

*This is some backdrop – Carson and Landon were acquainted but not friends. Carson one time ate at a restaurant where, as he left, he was hoaxed into believing he had run over the owner’s cat. He felt terrible about that. Later he and Landon had dinner at the same restaurant, and by pre-arrangment Carson was given a menu on which every single item was some form of dead cat.

20 thoughts on “The good they die young

  1. Mark, Landon’s son directed a terrific “wholesome” movie called “Love Comes Softly.” Although this is the same son (Michael Landon, Jr.), who gave his dad the “Mommie Dearest” treatment with a movie called “Michael Landon, the Father I Knew.”

    The CBS movie depicts one of Hollywood’s most cherished stars as a philandering father who left his son’s mom for a young makeup artist he met on the “Little House” set in 1983. Landon, also battled with alcohol…Even Michael Jr. admits there are some horrors he had to leave locked up in the family Pandora’s box…”I try to leave the wire hangers and the skeletons in the closet.”


    1. Wikipedia admits that Michael was a heavy drinker and smoker and had three wives. One of his sons, Mark (adopted) died in 2009 at age 60, not much detail offered other than “no foul play.” Of his nine children, six are his, two adopted, one a step.

      If I implied that he really was what he appeared to he in Highway, I did not mean to do so. He merely came across on screen as a very nice man.


      1. Agreed. Not many can stand up to those standards, especially those living in Hollyweird. I mainly just wanted to recommend the film.


  2. Has anyone ever seen a liver/pancreatic cancer patient looking this hale and hearty, especially less than 2 months from “death”? Never! Think Steve Jobs and Patrick Swayze, who (supposedly) died from the same disease. (At least they looked the part.) I see the consumate professional actor, playing his best, award-winning role. It reeks of bullshit to me.

    This is from The Onion, which has a reputation for hiding the truth in plain sight–masqueraded as spoof:

    “Sure, the whole fake-death thing was hard on my family, but they got through it. Plus, it was so moving to watch all the tributes and Bonanza marathons, and to read all the obituaries lauding my noble spirit. Yes, sir, America was pretty torn up after they thought I had died. That was pretty cool to see.

    But that’s all ancient history. I’ve got a new family and a new life now…It’s a nice life I’ve got. A little gardening in the morning, do the crossword over lunch, maybe swing the wrenches down at the driving range with Jim Henson or John Denver, and then top the day off with an evening cocktail or three.”

    Landon had just left NBC after 30 years, reportedly due to a business dispute.


    1. Twenty years ago I had a teacher who had liver cancer and she worked almost until her death. Months before (like 4-6) she was turning heavily yellow.

      That of course doesn’t mean Landon didn’t suffer from that necessarily; the make-up department of studios is as big as the graphic editing one…


      1. With pancreatic cancer, the pancreas stops producing insulin (the fat-storing hormone) and digestive enzymes (needed to break down food), which causes weight loss and emaciation. That’s why it’s called the “silent killer”; most people don’t know they have it until they have severe digestive problems and unexplained weight loss. Landon doesn’t seem to have that problem.


  3. Though I haven’t watched them so don’t know the level of conflict within the show’s story arcs, Joan of Arcadia and Touched By an Angel were network shows from the early ‘oughts that involved angels and directives from God. Joan starred Amber Tamblyn, a writer now who has been in the thick of the Weinstein conflagrations. A peerless exotic named Roma Downey starred in the other show.


        1. “People of German and Austrian descent make up the largest ethnic group among the population of Santa Catarina, at around 50% – with a considerable portion still speaking the German language.[5] Speakers of Venetian Italian make up the third most spoken mother tongue, after Portuguese and assorted German dialects.”

          Perhaps this town is where they squirreled away the gay Jewish actor playing Adolf Hitler after the war. LOL.


        2. Tyrone—how or where did you hear this–your answer to Mark’s question, about where the death fakers might be going to in Brazil ? I’m truly just curious. It may require some research…


        3. There are two psyops related to that; the KISS disco fire, allegedly killing more than 200 people, and the Chapecoense football team that allegedly was wiped out in a fake crash in Colombia, last year.

          Taking the research of steve kelly -was it?- that the name Hitler is just a front for a bunch of actors, I think indeed they went to South America, “Hitler” has been spotted in Colombia in 1954, in Bariloche, Argentina “he” lived there for years and also in Brazil they have spotted “him”. Why not every actor goes to a new country either to retire or to do some more infiltration work? Makes sense. His so-called “suicide” is a joke; allegedly burned with gasoline, but his picture doesn’t show a burned body. At all.


  4. One slimy clue about Hollyweird (CIA WEST) : they don’t do “subtle”. Everything they touch hits you over the head with blunt force at least 3 times oh, sorry, 4 times or 11, 22, 33 . . .ya’ got the picture.


  5. One thing the spooks love to dish out by the shovel full is IRONY. They seek to shock the public with events surrounding celebrities with a certain public image that are supposedly involved with a “real life” event that is either the direct opposite or is cruelly similar to that image.

    When a hugely successful funnyman like Robin Williams commits suicide, that’s IRONY.

    When a beloved princess nicknamed “Princess Di” tragically dies, that’s IRONY.

    When actors known for their portrayal of Superman kill themselves or become tragically disabled, that’s IRONY.

    And, when a popular actor, Michael Landon, known for his portrayal of an angel in a show called “Highway to Heaven” dies (i.e. “goes to Heaven”) that’s IRONY too.

    There are many, many examples of this and it’s not only with celebrity deaths.

    Michael Richards was a huge star known for his wacky comedy but “shocked the world” when the media showed him to be a vile racist. How ironic.

    Hailed as one of the prettiest women in the world, Julia Roberts, ironically marries a man they say is ugliest country music star, Lyle Lovett.

    Similar ironies have been pushed on us regarding many other celebrities. The ironic “twist” in these psyops seems to give them more shock value.


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