‘Bonanza’ Star Michael Landon Became a Werewolf Again Long After His Breakout Role

by Joe Rutland

For “Bonanza” star Michael Landon, playing a werewolf had an early part in his long career. Landon would play the hairy beast one more time.

We will talk about the first time he was a werewolf. But he reprised his earlier on-screen character in an episode from his NBC series “Highway to Heaven.”

The episode was aptly titled “I Was a Middle Aged Werewolf” and aired on Oct. 28, 1987. In it, Jonathan Smith, played by Landon, helps a little boy get over his fears (and in the process get even with his older sister).

Twitter account RetroNewsNow didn’t let us forget this episode.

Take a look at this clip from the “Highway to Heaven” episode. You’ll also notice Victor French, who played Mark Gordon in the series.

Obviously, it’s a clever time to bring these types of clips out as we are nearing Halloween.

As we mentioned, Outsiders, it is apropos that the TV series episode had that title.

Why? Way before Landon achieved fame and fortune on “Bonanza,” he was in a movie titled “I Was a Teenage Werewolf.” According to the IMDb listing, it states, “A hypnotherapist uses a temperamental teenager as a guinea pig for a serum which transforms him into a vicious werewolf.”

Yes, Landon was the guinea pig.

Michael Landon Had A Spot On ‘Highway to Heaven’ Just For ‘Bonanza’ Star Greene

Talk about giving back to your old friends! Well, Outsiders, Michael Landon found a spot on a “Highway to Heaven” episode for Lorne Greene.

See, Greene played Ben Cartwright on the long-running western “Bonanza.” Landon, of course, played his son “Little Joe” Cartwright.

In 1985, Lorne Greene played Fred Fusco, an actor in a Broadway play that was going absolutely nowhere. Yet in the play, Fusco would find himself speaking to God.

Fusco sees God sitting on an orchestra seat in the audience. This is after the first show, no less.

This episode is titled The Smile in the Third Row. Fusco would not any human being sit in that chair. This was saved for God.

It was Nov. 20, 1985, for this episode of “Highway to Heaven” to run on NBC.

In fact, this happened to be the final time both Greene and Landon would appear together in a show.

Greene, who also had a memorable role on “Battlestar Galactica,” died in 1987 at 72 years old. He developed pneumonia after undergoing ulcer surgery. It proved fatal.

Landon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died in July 1991.

But their work together on “Bonanza” is still seen by millions thanks to the world of reruns. Pa and “Little Joe” continue to teach and entertain through their interactions.