HomeAmerican Entertainment‘Bonanza’ Actor Went on to Become Michael Landon’s Stunt Double on ‘Little House on the Prairie’

‘Bonanza’ Actor Went on to Become Michael Landon’s Stunt Double on ‘Little House on the Prairie’

by Joe Rutland
(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

Bonanza was a very successful western on TV. One actor, though, would become Michael Landon’s stunt double on Little House on the Prairie.

Who was it and for what show? OK, so it was for Little House on the Prairie.

The actor’s name is Hal Burton, according to IMDb. Between 1966-68, Burton performed stunts in 11 episodes of the NBC drama. Between 1967-69, he was a stunt double in five episodes.

Burton was Landon’s stunt double for one episode in 1974 of Little House on the Prairie. His career also has included stunt work in movies over the years, too. Among those are Iron Man, Django Unchained, The Scorpion King, Wild Wild West, and Rush Hour.

Little House on the Prairie, which starred Landon, Karen Grassle, Melissa Gilbert, Melissa Sue Anderson, and Alison Arngrim, ran for eight seasons. A sequel called Little House: A New Beginning aired in the 1982-83 television season.

Obviously, if you have ever seen Bonanza, then you know Landon played “Little Joe” Cartwright. Other cast members included Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker, Pernell Roberts, and Mitch Vogel.

‘Bonanza’ Star Lorne Greene Gets Guest-Starring Role On Another Landon Show

If you think that Michael Landon had any hard feelings toward Bonanza star Lorne Greene, then that appears not to be the case.

Landon, after his time on the western ended, would go on and create Little House on the Prairie. Then he followed that up with Highway to Heaven.

It was in that show where Landon and Greene crossed paths again. In Highway to Heaven, Landon played Jonathan Smith, an angel sent to Earth to help those with problems.

Fred Fusco, played by Lorne Greene, Landon’s dad from Bonanza, appeared on Nov. 20, 1985.

Fusco was an actor in a failing Broadway play. In the play, though, the actor speaks to God and keeps seeing him.

After the first show, Fusco sees God sitting as part of the audience in an orchestra seat. What is this episode called? The Smile in the Third Row. Fusco would make sure God had the best seat in the house.

TV Western Made Its Debut On NBC In September 1959 With Landon, Greene on Board

Bonanza made its debut on NBC in September 1959. The series’ first show was titled “A Rose for Lotta.”

One of the interesting side notes from this first season is that guest stars were paid more than the Cartwrights.

Bonanza producers didn’t feel that the series regulars were recognizable enough to carry the show.

That changed in 1961 when it became the highest-rated scripted show on TV.

The next 10 years would find Bonanza at No. 1 among the top-five shows in Nielsen ratings.