Hollywood was shocked and heartbroken when actor, producer and director Michael Landon passed away at his Malibu home just three months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Though the star overcame a horrific childhood and rose to fame with his direction of Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven, his dark demons never left him.
He died on July 1st 1991at the age of 54.
Now, REELZ’s new docuseries Autopsy: Michael Landon, is exposing new details about the star’s difficult life, sad last days and toxic habits that may have led to his sudden health decline.
“Michael collapsed in what, the poor stewardess thought, was an epileptic fit, a seizure, something,” says Ruta Lee, an actress and former friend of Landon in the show. “Clearly, that was a sign from the almighty that something was wrong.”
According to reports, Landon got his drinking under control. But in the 1970s, when he became the writer, producer, director, and star of Little House on the Prairie, his drinking allegedly escalated.
“He reached frequently for a cup with a little inch of vodka in it, so it wasn’t obvious for the children that he was drinking vodka,” recalls Karen Grassle, Landon’s former costar. “But his costumer always knew when to go and get a little snort for Mike — and that could be morning, noon, or night.”
On April 1991, Landon announced to the world that he had pancreatic cancer — a condition that usually develops in people of a much later age. He received treatment but died 12 weeks later.
Autopsy: Michael Landon airs Sunday April 7 at 8 ET / PT on REELZ.