Here's Who Inherited Michael Landon's Money After He Died

Michael Landon, beloved actor famous for portraying Charles Ingalls on the popular TV series "Little House on the Prairie" and Joe Cartwright on "Bonanza," had his career cut short in 1991 when he was diagnosed with aggressive cancer of the pancreas and liver, reported the Los Angeles TimesHe died just three months after the diagnosis, at the age of 54, surrounded by family, according to People Magazine. Toward the end of his life, "I was the father and he was the son," remembered Landon's son Christopher Beau Landon in a People Magazine interview. "I had to help him up the stairs." Added daughter Leslie Ann Landon, "In the last month and a half, you started to take your time with him because you just knew."

As the family was grappling with Michael's rapid decline, the actor himself was settling his estate. Working for decades, not only as a Hollywood actor but as a writer and producer, Michael Landon had amassed an impressive fortune. It was important to him to divide his wealth fairly between his nine children.

Michael Landon made financial preparations

Even though the illness came on quickly, Michael Landon had time to prepare financially for his death, according to People Magazine. He arranged to leave each of his nine children between $8 million and $10 million, and preemptively discouraged fighting among them. With the aid of staff, Landon recorded a videotape of himself explaining that any heir who contested the will would forfeit his or her portion of it. As Landon's widow, Cindy Landon, told People Magazine in 1992, "the kids respect his decision."

Michael Landon's nine children were from three marriages, and two of them were adopted. About his two adopted sons, People Magazine quoted him in 1991: "They're my sons, period. Not my 'adopted sons.' They're my sons and I'm their father until they die — or I die." A third adopted son had previously been given up by Michael Landon's first wife, Dodie Fraser, after the couple divorced in 1962, according to People. Though the one-time adopted son, Jason Smith, came forward after Landon's death, the family did not contact him.

Some of Michael Landon's children followed in his footsteps

Four of Michael Landon's children have chosen careers in show business. Oldest son Mark Fraser Landon had an acting career before dying in 2009, according to Wide Open Country. Michael Landon Jr. is a TV producer and director, known for his Hallmark mini-series "When Calls the Heart" (via Insider). He is married to actress Sharee Gregory, according to IMDb.

Christopher Beau Landon writes and directs movies, including "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" (2014), "Happy Death Day"(2017), and "Freaky" (2020), according to IMDb. "I'm not interested in acting," he said (via IMDb), explaining his decision to work behind the scenes. "I've spent too much of my life sort of in front of people, and not by choice."

However, acting is just what Jennifer Rachel Landon (pictured above) chose to do, according to Wide Open Country. She is a three-time Emmy-winning actress on the series "As the World Turns," and currently plays Teeter on "Yellowstone." Jennifer, who was seven when she learned her father had cancer, admitted to having complicated feelings about watching reruns of his shows. She said (via IMDb), "Sometimes, if I'm feeling sad, I'll be like, 'I need a dose of Dad.'" She continued to explain that other times, "I can't watch the show at all. I'm like, 'Dad can't see me like this! As if he can see me through the TV."

Some of Michael Landon's children followed their own path

Not much is known about the life of adopted son Josh Fraser Landon, who has managed to stay out of the limelight, according to Wide Open Country. Oldest daughter Cheryl Landon Wilson (pictured above) published a book in 1992 titled "I Promised My Dad," detailing what it was like growing up in the Landon Family.

Second daughter Leslie Ann Landon played Etta Plum on "Little House on the Prairie" before leaving show business, and now is a clinical psychologist. According to IMDb, It is her daughter, Rachel Matthews, who has made a return to acting, according to Wide Open Country, appearing in "Happy Death Day," directed by Christopher Landon, and voicing a role in "Frozen II."

Two of Michael Landon's children circumvented show business entirely to work in real estate. Shawna Leigh Landon is a Los Angeles realtor, who enjoys sharing family pictures on her Instagram account. Sean Matthew Landon, the youngest of the Landon children, owns his own real estate business.