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Michael Landon Lifespan Paper

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Michael Landon 1

Lifespan Development and Personality Paper
Chérie Brooks
PSY200
Gerry Winters
October 22, 2004

Michael Landon 2 Michael Landon was many things to many people. We all know him from the various popular television series he acted in as a moral, decent, kind, Christian man. For the most part this is who he was; however, Landon had another side to him that we, his audience, never got to witness. There were many forces, some good, and some bad, that influenced his life, morals, emotions, mind, and faith. Parental and social systems greatly affected his developmental growth and adjustment as well. Landon was born October 31, 1936, as Eugene Maurice Orowitz, the second and last child of Eli Orowitz and Peggy O’Neal. His mother was a former actress, comedian, rumored to be an ex-Ziegfield Follies girl and an Irish Catholic. His father was a publicity agent, theater manager, and a Jew. He had an older sister, Evelyn. Home life in the Orowitz family was not normal. There was high tension between his parents and he found them difficult to cope with. Landon suffered much heartache and trauma at the hands of his mother. She was depressed, suicidal, volatile, and abusive. As an adult, Landon was interviewed many times and quoted as saying this of his mother, “She was a stabber, a kicker, and a wacko” (landonland.com), and that she was “…off her rocker” (bonanzaworld.net). Looking back at his childhood, his memories of her were not fond. Here is some of what he shared. “I was ten before I knew you put anything but a head in a gas oven” and on his sixth birthday she said to him, “Well, now you’re six and I don’t like you anymore because I don’t like little boys.” (bonanzaworld.net) In another interview he remembered this, “My mother would sit on the sofa in her nightgown – she always wore her nightgown when she was upset – holding a Bible, asking God to kill me. My mother was sad – she never got better – and she always kept me a little off balance. I could do all the bad things: fail a grade, skip school for weeks, and she wouldn’t say a word. But, if I drank milk from the bottle, she’d dropkick me all over the kitchen.” (landonland.com) One thing Landon suffered from such stress was bed-wetting. As a result, his mother would hang his wet bedding on the cloths line for all to see and even
Michael Landon 3 ripped the sheets into strips, tied them to him, and sent him to school. Even as Landon was older, the abuse did not stop. On the day of his first marriage, his mother threatened to kill him with a knife and tried to have him committed to a mental hospital. (suite101.com)
One might ask where his father was during all of this. It has been noted that his father was a workaholic and hardly ever home. (bonanzaworld.net) When he was home, he was silent and expressed little open affection. (suite101.com) Even though, Landon said, “I loved my father because I learned a lot from him. He never disciplined me and he only hit me once. He didn’t even want to hit me then, but my mother goaded him into it. He didn’t know how to hit me…so he slapped me with the back of his hand…I started to bleed…my father started to cry and left the room…it was the first time my father showed any emotion.” (landonland.com)
Because of such a childhood, Landon was confused, shy, lonely, and introverted. He spent a great deal of time relating to animals and building forts in the woods. He experienced prejudice at school by his fellow pupils referring to him as a “lousy Jew.” (landonland.com) He had good grades until he was tired of being lonely, and became the class clown. This caused his grades to slide and he failed the ninth grade. (bonanza1.com) Landon got through it and found his niche in high school with javelin throwing. He won local and regional championships and was the #1 high school javelin thrower in the United States. (suite101.com) While in college at UCLA on a javelin scholarship, he once again was “attacked” this time over his hair. Influenced by the movie Samson and Delilah, he grew out his hair and became buff. His classmates called him a freak, ganged up on him, and shaved his head. (bonanzaworld.net)
Landon was a hard worker, which is evident in the jobs he chose. In an article, A House of Sin Kept My Family From Starving, Landon is described to have had many different jobs throughout his life. He started working at the age of fifteen. Landon started in a soup factory. He also worked in a glue
Michael Landon 4 factory, meat packing plant, unloading freight cars, washing cars, a process server, a door-to-door blanket sales man, and finally an actor.
When a friend of his needed help at an audition and asked him to come along, he did so. Unfortunately, for his friend, but good news for Landon, they liked him instead and so an actor was born. His name, Eugene Orowitz, was not catchy enough for a star; therefore, he became Michael Landon by simply picking the name out of the telephone directory. (imdb.com) Landon went on to act, direct, produce, and even script in twenty plus titles. However, he is most famous for his three long running series, Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, and Highway to Heaven.
During his life, Landon married three times and has nine children, three adopted, one step, and five biologically. At one point during his run in Bonanza, he became addicted to tranquilizers (eonline.com), alcohol, and was reported to be smoking four packs of cigarettes a day. (bonanzaworld.net) The addictions did not last long or take over his life and he rehabilitated quickly.
With such a life and past as his, he had different behaviors and personality traits. Some refer to him as a devoted family man, happy, charming, witty, a devout Christian, determined, talented, non-abusive, someone to look up to, good looking, honest, and a practical joker. While others see him as difficult, dictatorial, controlling, immature, disruptive, sarcastic, immoral, liberal, strong-willed, an adulterer, and even “…a minister of Satan.” (goodfight.org)
Some things that evidenced his good qualities were the fact that he did adopt three children that were his first wife’s (children) from her previous marriage and with his first big paycheck from his first acting gig; he bought Christmas toys for children he did not even know (Teel, C. 1966). Landon made such comments as, “I made people reach into their lives and look for a higher power, God or even themselves to solve their problems…I believe…that there is a God in all of us,” (goodfight.org) “I want people to laugh and cry, not just sit and stare at the TV. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I think
Michael Landon 5 viewers are hungry for shows in which people say something meaningful.” (eonline.com) “I think hard times would be a great lesson for today’s kids. It seems to me the new generation is given too much, with nothing asked of them. They grouse and grumble about life because they’ve never had to go out and do battle with it – and they’re bored. Idleness might be the reason for their restlessness.” (Teel, C. 1966) People who had not even physically met him were heartbroken when he passed away making comments such as, “He was like a father for my children.” (grief-recovery.com) In addition, when he almost lost his daughter, Cheryl, in a car accident that killed three of her friends, Landon is said to have made a deal with God. If God spared his daughter, he would do his best to make a product to help people. (filmbug.com)
Yet, he seemed to have a “dark side” as some would say, especially those closest to him, his family. He claims to have spoken to his dead father and that he inspired most of his scripts. His son, Chris, believed he had “telepathic” or “special powers” and that he had a “very dry, sick sense of humor.” His daughter, Cheryl, said he had “moments of psychic awareness” and was “an angel of light.” One of his daughters noted while he was on his death bed he had frightening visions and was hearing voices. She also said, “He raised his fists and clawed the air. I heard him mumbling…’No, not yet,’ he said clearly, ‘I’m not ready. No, I don’t want to go.’…The nurse told us dad had spent the night raising his hands and pawning at the air as though he was trying to keep something away.” Landon is said to have believed in the oneness of mankind and life after death. (goodfight.org)
Which was the biggest influence on Landon’s life, heredity, or environment? Looking back at what we now know of his life, I would venture to say that environment played the biggest role. Landon may have had a “dark side,” however, it was not one of suicide and depression, both of which tend to be a biological tendency. Which, by the way, his mother did kill herself in 1974 when he was 38. The not-so-good behaviors that he acted out, I believe, stem from the environment of abuse, trauma, and
Michael Landon 6 tension he experienced as a youngster. He also was a hardworking man just like his father and chose to be non-abusive as his father exampled, again, environmental influences. He may have been conditioned not to be a family man, however, he broke that cycle and became a loving father. I feel this is due to his strong “family” sense while on the set of Bonanza and Little House. He thought of Lorne Greene as a father figure and Dan Blocker as a dear and close friend. They were so close that the three of them formed business companies together and he often went to Greene for fatherly advice. (bonanzaworld.net) Landon often referred to the cast and crew on Little House as his ‘family’ and Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura, named her first son, Michael, after Landon. (imdb.com) He developed a strong relationship with Victor French first on Little House and he became his co-star on Highway to Heaven. Even though Landon received little to no affection from his biological family, he definitely made up for it with his TV families. This would be, yet, another example of environmental influence.
It is interesting that while his mother sat with a Bible in her hands asking God to kill him, that he would go on to play “Godly” roles in his acting career. While this is ironic, I would guess that his morals were shaped early on, founded, and based on God. Recall that he was greatly influenced by the Biblical story of Samson and Delilah. After all, his mother was Catholic and his Father a Jew.
I am betting that based on Freud’s psychoanalytical theory, Landon should most certainly be psychotic due to the abuse by his mother and that his ego and superego were his “dark side” he has been referred to possessing. On the other hand, the social learning theory would take Landon and have him learning his attitudes and behaviors from society. If it is a society that teaches unsuitable conduct, then it is destructive; however, if it is a society that imparts proper behaviors then it is constructive. Based on this theory, Landon was in a destructive society as a child, but was fortunate enough to find a constructive society in his career.
Michael Landon 7
I feel the best theory for Landon would be the social learning theory. I am sure that he learned, even at home observing his parents, the ways of interactionism and situationism and it was even more so embedded by his experiences in his acting, directing, and producing. It is evident by the different viewpoints of his character that people in one situation witnessed one type of personality and people in another observed totally different qualities in him. Therefore, it is safe to assume that Landon is a prime example of ‘person x situation’. In addition, he was one to know he was effective in evoking laughter and good feelings through his scripts. I believe this was his form of self-regulation.
In conclusion, Landon had a destructive social childhood that later changed into a constructive social environment. He suffered from abuse and neglect as a youngster, yet rose above it and became the man he was. Sure, nature had to do with parts of his psychological make-up, but, for the most part, his life influences impacted him most. Landon died on July 1, 1991 of pancreatic cancer. “He left a beautiful memory.” (bonanza1.com)

Michael Landon 8
References
Collins, G. (n.d.). Biography for Michael Landon. Retrieved October 18, 2004, from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001446/bio
Erikson, H. (n.d.). Michael Landon. The Facts. Retrieved October 18, 2004, from http:// www.eonline.com/Facts/People/Bio/0,128,161,00.html
Filmbug.com (n.d.). Michael Landon. Retrieved October 18, 2004, from http://www.filmbug.com/db/2667
Friedman, R. (n.d.). They Knew Him, They Loved Him, They Just Never Met Him. Retrieved October 18, 2004, from http://www.grief-recovery.com/Media/ Emotional_bird_dog.htm
Kovar, J. (n.d.). Michael Landon. Hollywood Unmasked. Retrieved October 18, 2004, from http://www.goodfight.org/hwmlandon.html
Lott, J. (1996). Michael Landon Bio! Retrieved October 18, 2004, from http://bonanza1.com/joe/mikebio.htm
Pentz, P.. (2003, October, 31). Michael Landon…A Biography. Bonanza Biographies. Retrieved October 18, 2004, from http://www.bonanzaworld.net
Shoemaker, C. (1996). Tribute to Michael Landon. Biography. Retrieved October 18, 2004, from http://www.landonland.com/documents/biography.htm
Teel, C. (1966) Michael Landon: A House of Sin Kept My Family From Starving. Retrieved October 18, 2004, from http://www.landonland.com/documents/ articles/1966.htm
Troutman, M. (2001, February 2). His Triumph and Tragedy. Retro Bio: Michael Landon. Retrieved October 18, 2004, from http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/ Biographies/59160…...

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...Lifespan Development and Personality Paper BY: April Johnson PSY/103 Professor Vincent D’Elia May 31, 2010 Lifespan Development and Personality Paper This paper will focus on the human development stages of adolescence. Adolescence is a very interesting age group to study for the fact this is the development stages from childhood to adulthood. These developments involve the development stages of physical, cognitive, and psychosocial phases. Adolescence, some may say, revolve around the age group 12 to 18 years of age. In detail this paper will focus on the factors that affect physical, cognitive, social, moral, and personality developments. In addition, the paper will as well discuss hereditary and environmental influences of each. According to Wiley Plus, adolescence and adulthood are the times for dramatic and gradual changes. Early and a person’s late teen years a person would experience physical changes in the body itself. What we mean by physical changes is what is called puberty. Puberty can be defined as changes to the body from a child to an adult. Girls and boys will each experience hair growth in places where he or she usually does not see as child, such as pubic, facial, and underarms. Girls start to experience menstruation cycles and breast development. For girl these are signs that she is turning into a woman. Men on the other hand, experience voice changes, muscle changes, and hair growth in many places. With the cognitive......

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