David Canary is known to many television fans for playing Stuart and Adam Chandler for over 1,200 episodes of “All My Children.” “Bonanza” fans also remember him as Ponderosa ranch foreman Candy Canady on five of its last six seasons.
In 2004, Canary talked with Connie Passalacqua about the show and the influence Michael Landon (“Little Joe”) had on it.
The Road to ‘Bonanza’
Born in 1938, Canary grew up in Ohio and received a football scholarship to the University of Cincinnati. After graduating with a music degree, the AFL’s Denver Broncos drafted him in 1960. He never played professional football, and said, “I thought they were out of their minds. I was 172 pounds, I wasn’t very fast, and I couldn’t catch a pass. They called me stone fingers.”
After some stage work in New York City and a stint in the U.S. Army, Canary headed to Hollywood. His part in the Paul Newman western “Hombre” caught the eye of “Bonanza” creator David Dortort, who cast him in the new role of Candy Canady.
Canary came into a well-established show but found that the cast was generous toward him. He recalled Dan Blocker as quite the jokester and how Lorne Greene periodically offered him advice, which Canary in his youthful exuberance didn’t take.
According to Canary, Landon was the show’s de facto creative head during these later seasons. If he didn’t like new scripts during table reads, things came to a standstill for several hours while he rewrote the offending material. As opposed to being a diva, Canary remembers Landon as a talented writer and director who improved the projects he worked on.
In the 2002 interview below, Dortort discusses how Landon first came to him asking to write for the show. From these humble beginnings, Landon’s considerable talents for behind-the-scenes work grew exponentially.
The Landon Legacy
Just a year after “Bonanza” ended in 1973, Landon began working on another future classic series: “Little House on the Prairie.” He fully realized his creative powers on this show. In addition to starring as Charles Ingalls, Landon produced all 204 episodes, directed 89, and wrote 48.
Landon discussed the “Little House on the Prairie” pilot right after it aired with Dallas television journalist Bobbie Wygant and his goals for the show, most of which he accomplished during its nine-year run.
Unfortunately, Landon died in 1991 and Canary in 2015. Their fans everywhere, however, can comfort themselves with the large catalog of work each man left behind.