Although Daly's study of Landon is no more sophisticated than her flat accounts of The Osmonds (1983), Sylvester Stallone...

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MICHAEL LANDON: A Biography

Although Daly's study of Landon is no more sophisticated than her flat accounts of The Osmonds (1983), Sylvester Stallone (1984), Michael J. Fox (1985), and Julio Iglesias (1986), her evident dislike of the TV superstar gives this bio an enticingly nasty appeal. Daly's Landon is a Dorian Gray, a beloved actor whose sweet public image, shaped by such family fare as Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie, veils a power-hunger egomaniac. ""Michael is good at stirring up emotion in people. . .you either love him or loathe him,"" writes Daly. The loathing is no surprise if Landon indeed is a man who has ""an obsessive need for control""; who when making a recent TV-film fixed on the ""least experienced and most vulnerable"" performer (Priscilla Presley) ""to use as a whipping girl""; who during a dispute with a co-producer ""of course had to have the last, ungracious word."" Daly locates the roots of Landon's misanthropy in his well-publicized, unhappy childhood; the battling parents; the bed-wetting youth who grew into a young man so sensitive that when his UCLA track-and-field teammates forcibly cut his unruly hair, he threw a fit that resulted in torn ligaments and a permanently damaged shoulder. To compensate, argues Daly, Landon requires success and total control--goals he soon attained via starring roles in I Was a Teenage Werewolf and then in Bonanza, the nation's #1 TV show for seven years. Daly details how Landon bullied himself into a director/ writer's position on that series--and how he insists on scripting his family life (despite two failed marriages and a formerly drug. dependent daughter) with an equally iron hand. But, she ventures, ""It is doubtful that he will ever gain the recognition he needs to keep him happy."" Despite flat writing and facile psychologizing, Daly ekes out a bit of entertainment by puncturing Landon's sugary balloon: more pungent, then, than the average fanzinebio.

Pub Date: Dec. 21, 1987

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1987