‘Bonanza’ Star Michael Landon Needed a French Accent for Two of His Early Roles

by Taylor Cunningham

Though Michael Landon made a name for himself in classic TV Westerns like Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie, there was a time when he played characters from across the ocean in Europe.

During the star’s earlier years, he actually took two TV roles that required a French accent. Both characters appeared in episodes of The Adventures of Jim Bowie.

His first time playing a French man was in 1956 for an installment titled Deputy Sheriff. The story showed Jim taking on the temporary position of deputy so he can guard a young man named Jerome Juventin (Landon), who is accused of murdering a man. But while speaking with the prisoner, he realizes that Jerome may be innocent.

Because Micheal Landon nailed the French accent, the producers invited him back once more a few months later for an episode called The Swordsman.

In that installment, Landon played a French aristocrat named Armand de Nivernais. Jim meets Armand when he heads to New Orleans to buy an estate. While there, Jim falls for a beautiful woman involved with Armand. And the infatuation leads to a jealous sword-slinging battle between the two.

Before Making it Big on ‘Bonanza,’ Michael Landon Also Starred as a Werewolf

Before joining Bonanza, Michael Landon didn’t just star as characters outside of the county. He also starred as a character outside of humanity. For his breakout role, the actor played a hairy lovelorn student in I Was a Teenage Werewolf.

In the 1957 classic, he played Tony, your typical high school boy who just happens to turn into a monster thanks to a mad scientist of a therapist.

Tony seals his fate after his girlfriend Arlene convinces him to meet the shrink named Dr. Brandon to help him deal with anger issues. While there, Brandon hypnotizes Tony and then gives him a dose of a self-made serum without his consent.

The medicine is supposed to ease Tony’s volatile personality and “hurl [mankind] back to his primitive state.” But instead, it makes him worse by morphing him into a murderous monster.

While on his bloody spree, Tony kills several people, including Dr. Brandon and his assistant. The townsfolk and police then go on a search for the beast after he disappears into the woods. And eventually, an officer finds and shoots him.

Once the bullet hits the werewolf, it morphs back into Tony. And the teenager lives happily ever after.

To pay homage to the role that made him famous, Michael Landon reprised his werewolf role decades later.

During a Halloween episode of Highway to Heaven, Landon’s Jonathan suffers the same fate as Tony and turns into a bloodthirsty creature. But the second time around, the werewolf didn’t prove to be quite as grizzly as the high school student.