This week’s podcast: Douglas on Letterman sparks memories of Michael Landon

Been a busy week slogging through Fall Preview copy for Starweek (for the Sept. 18 issue) so a little slow throwing this podcast up with CHML’s Scott Thompson. Scott wanted to talk about Michael Douglas’ appearance this week on David Letterman. I tell Scott it was like “sitting in on two old chums talking.” Scott points out Letterman is always “freakishly interested in health issues,” so the cancer talk was genuine and illuminating. 

I mention how the Douglas/Letterman pow wow reminded me of Michael Landon’s final appearance on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. Landon had just been diagnosed with with pancreatic cancer, a death sentence 20 years ago. I mention to Scott how I came to have the last print interview with Landon. Working at the time for TV Guide, I had arranged to swing through Los Angeles and collect four or five stories. Landon was my last stop, I literally carried my bags with me so I could leave his office and scoot directly to LAX. The Little House on the Prairie and Bonanza star was working on the launch of what would be his final series (with only one episode, the pilot, ever completed), US.

I remember meeting Landon and being thrown by his colour. He looked quite orange, something I wrote off at the time as some weird Hollywood tanning mishap. He chatted briefly with PR man Harry Flynn before our exchange and in retrospect I remember Flynn seemed concerned about Landon`s health. It wasn`t until I got back to Toronto that about a week later that news broke about Landon`s deadly cancer diagnosis.
There was no hint of that talk in our exchange. I sat in his office for over an hour and he had me in stitches mainly with Bonanza stories. Landon kept goofing on Canadian-born Pa Cartwright Lorne Greene, calling him the Jewish cowboy and pointing out every time Greene rode a horse, you could see daylight as he bounced high up and down off the saddle.
Fortunately for Douglas, there have been tremendous advances in cancer treatment since Landon`s passing. Scott and I talk about it and you can listen in here.

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