The Sad Bedtime Routine Michael Landon Established With His Children Before He Died

Before his death, Michael Landon famously appeared in and produced some of the most notable television series of the 1970s and beyond. The "Bonanza" and "Little House on the Prairie" star tragically lost his life to cancer in 1991, leaving behind a legacy as a renowned entertainment icon and beloved family man. Former President Ronald Reagan, along with his wife and first lady Nancy Reagan, were among those who attended Landon's memorial service (per Associated Press). 

A father of nine, Landon, who according to the Associated Press was born Eugene Maurice Orowitz, cherished the relationship he shared with his children as much as any man would. Reputed to be a patient, loving, and infinitely supportive parent, he established a bond with his four daughters (Jennifer, Leslie, Cheryl, and Shawna) and five sons (Michael, Mark, Sean, Jason, and Josh) that he carried with him up until his untimely passing. "I've never given my kids the impression that they should be rock solid — why should they have a horrible time trying to live up to something that even I can't achieve? And I tell my kids I make mistakes and have just as many problems as they do. My children know that I'm not Superman — I'm just their father," he shared with Redbook in 1987. In his final interview with Life magazine, he talked about the tender routine he developed with his daughter Jennifer and his son Sean before bed each night when they were just children (per Showbiz Cheat Sheet). 

'Nothing would change'

Landon explained that as he tucked Jennifer and Sean in every night, he allowed them both to ask him one question. Sean, who was only 4 years old at the time, generally stuck to the same meek inquiry: "What was the worst thing you did when you were a little boy?" Landon shared that, despite the straightforwardness and predictability of the question, it became harder and harder to summon new answers as the evenings passed (via Showbiz Cheat Sheet). 

It was the elder of the two, Jennifer (she was 7 years old), who pressed him with deeper and more elaborate questions. The most difficult of the questions, Landon shared, was when she asked him directly if he was going to die. Heartbroken, he surmised that honesty was the best solution and told her frankly that he did not know. "Then I said that even if I were to die, they would be all right," Landon said in the Life magazine article. "They would miss me terribly, and I would miss them terribly. But nothing would change" (per Showbiz Cheat Sheet). On July 1, 1991, Michael Landon lost his life to pancreatic cancer.

Jennifer Landon told Closer Weekly in 2019, "He was always so present as a father. He'd watch me jump around the pool for an hour straight. I think he genuinely enjoyed it. I felt admired by him — which is an amazing feeling to have as a child."

Where is Sean Landon today?

Sean Landon was only 5 years old when his father passed away. Despite being the youngest member of the Landon troupe, he cherishes those fond memories of his dad that have never escaped his memories. "Dad would take me along on his errands occasionally, and he'd buy me marshmallows and candy, which was a huge treat because my mom was super healthy and made sure we ate only nutritious food. He'd say, 'Now, don't tell your mother!' and of course the first thing I'd do when we got back home was tell her," Sean once shared with The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  

At the age of 36, Sean currently owns and operates his own realty business that is based out of California. During his first year as a realtor, he was granted the "Rookie of the Year" award and has since become quite successful within the trade (per Douglas Elliman).

Where is Jennifer Landon today?

Like her beloved father, Jennifer Rachel Landon opted for a life in front of the camera. As a three-time Emmy winner, she's appeared in several major motion pictures and television productions throughout the years. Rachel Landon took home the Emmy for outstanding younger actress in a drama series for her role in "As the World Turns" in 2006, 2007, and 2008, and she's currently aboard the cast of Paramount's wildly popular western drama series "Yellowstone" alongside Kevin Costner and Kelly Reilly. She also holds a BFA in Drama from New York University (via IMDb).

"His mission was to genuinely — and on a spiritual level — connect with people," she shared about her father in 2014. "When I watch his shows, I can see that even though he's acting, he is always tethered to the audience. Even today I can feel the connection he and I had" (via the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network).