‘Bonanza’ Star Michael Landon Played a Creepy Character Before His Breakout Role on the Show

by Joe Rutland

Michael Landon of “Bonanza” fame made heads turn as “Little Joe” Cartwright but some might have run when seeing this character.

Landon needed a gig before starting his tenure on TV’s big-league western show.

An article from MeTV spells it out for us, Outsiders.

This took place about two years before “Bonanza.” Landon took on the role of teenager Tony Rivers in the movie “I Was a Teenage Werewolf.”

So, our teen Tony manages to undergo an experimental treatment from a rather evil doctor.

The look he took on definitely is a creepy one. But Landon managed to find a little humor in it later in his career. “Highway to Heaven” had an episode titled “I Was a Middle-Aged Werewolf.”

‘Bonanza’ Star Talked About His Knack for Finding Solid Material in Work

Throughout his career, Michael Landon definitely had a knack for picking solid material to use in shows.

The “Bonanza” star also appeared and had major roles behind the scenes with “Little House on the Prairie” and “Highway to Heaven.”

What was it about these types of shows?

He talked about it when he made an appearance on the morning talk show “LIVE with Regis and Kathie Lee” and chatted with hosts Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford.

Philbin asked Landon, “Why is it that every series you’re associated with has a long run?”

Landon said, “I think a lot of it has to do with, probably, picking the right material, first of all. A great deal of it has to do with luck.”

Gifford said, “You have your finger on the pulse, though, of America and what people want to see.”

“I think that has a lot to do with it,” Landon said.

Landon Replied To Claims Made That He Was Power Hungry In Career

So, was Michael Landon a power-hungry actor? Well, he addressed this claim in an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in 1976.

Carson begins by saying, “I read something in People magazine this week, or a couple [of] weeks ago. The press, they get on to people sometime in this business you know, and they called you a… ‘power mad jackass.’ Somebody wrote that. Does that bug when you see stuff like that?”

Landon was ready for it.

“True is true, John,” Landon said. “You know what these people write. You know what it is? It’s because I do a number of things on the show, so the majority of people who write articles about show business haven’t the slightest idea what it takes to make a picture, haven’t the slightest idea what it takes to make a television show.”