22 Aug 2014
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Mayor: We Didn't Mean to Trash Michael Landon

A bronze marker honoring the late actor, who grew up in Collingswood, ended up in a refuse heap.

Mayor: We Didn't Mean to Trash Michael Landon

The borough had no intention of dumping on its most famous former resident after a memorial to him was from , according to Mayor James Maley.

News that the borough removed the bronze plaque and concrete marker honoring the late actor Michael Landon created a stir after it was first reported late last week by the local weekly newspaper, The Retrospect.

The plaque and a two-foot high concrete base–which had sat in the park since being installed in 1997–were removed in early November during a major cleanup at the park.

In addition to the marker, Landon's widow, Cindy, also donated a children's play set, dubbed "Little Treehouse on the Prairie," at a cost of $6,700.

Late last year, after all but one piece of the aging playground equipment was removed and replaced with a new play set in a different part of the park,  borough officials determined the marker presented a potential safety hazard because the base sat alone at a low height in a grassy area.

The bronze plaque honoring Landon was taken to the borough's public-works facility on Eldridge Avenue, Maley said in an interview Sunday evening, adding he was unsure how the plaque ended up in the scrap heap.

"It was not meant to go into the trash," Maley said. "That was just a mistake somebody made."

The Retrospect reported that a borough resident found the marker and brought it to the newspaper's offices on Haddon Avenue.

Maley said the borough has no immediate plans to rededicate the plaque, but that it will find a proper home at some point.

Several readers have suggested on Collingswood Patch that the borough should place the marker at the , a local performance venue.

For now, the mayor said, the plaque will remain among a collection of borough artifacts at The Retrospect's office.

Maley called the flap over the plaque's removal a "ridiculous little issue," and said no one intended to offend the Landon family.

Cindy Landon could not immediately be reached for comment Monday, but it appears she and her family were not aware the borough decided to remove her late husband's memorial. 

Michael Landon was born in Forest Hills, Queens as Eugene Maurice Orowitz. His family moved to Collingswood when he was 4 years old, living in a house on South Newton Lake Drive.

He was a track star at , and in 1954 set a national record in the javelin throw.

Michael Landon went on to star in movies such as I Was a Teenage Werewolf, but he is best known for his television roles: Little Joe in Bonanza; the patriarch in Little House on the Prairie; and as Jonathan Smith, the probationary angel on Highway to Heaven.

He died in 1991 of metastasized pancreatic cancer, a few months shy of his 55th birthday.

While the fate of Collingswood's lasting remembrance to a famous son is in limbo, there's another memorial to him nearby: Women Against Rape, a local organization that Landon supported, installed a plaque and planted a tree in his honor at Cooper River Park in Pennsauken a few months after his death.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the name of the play set donated by Michael Landon's family in his honor.

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