‘Bonanza’: How Michael Landon’s Stunt Double Has Tiny Role in the Series Finale

by Madison Miller

It doesn’t seem like there were any exceptionally crazy stunts on the set of “Bonanza,” however, Michael Landon still had a backup man just in case.

Whenever there was an exceptional tumble or fall or a real gunshot, Hal Burton is there to take the blow instead.

Hal Burton in ‘Bonanza’ Series Finale

Burton even got to have one last job on the set of “Bonanza” during the show’s series finale. It was called “The Hunter.” The show was canceled unexpectedly and the episode was never meant to be a finale in any sense. The writers didn’t get the chance to write up something more final and conclusive.

Instead, the episode is about a gripping villain named Bill Tanner. The finale has a lot of cheesy horror elements. It is reminiscent of chase thriller films from the ’70s that are instead set in the Old West. Tanner is known for hunting down women and children just for a bit of fun. He decided to go after Little Joe in this episode.

At one point, Tanner escapes the asylum he’s locked away in. He approaches a man sitting near a campfire at a camp. Tanner steals his gun and his saddlebag. Hal Burton is the uncredited sitting man in the episode. Normally he is Landon but got a chance to branch out before the show ended.

According to MeTV, Burton is also at the end of the episode of “Bonanza.” He is the person in the overhead shot in the jail at the end. He is firing a rifle into the jail walls. At this point, he is actually standing in for Tom Skerritt as Bill Tanner.

Besides stand-ins and stunts, Burton was also a common townsman during many seasons for six years on the show. Burton was also doing the exact same thing on “Little House on the Prairie” as Charles Ingalls.

Burton in Other Roles

Hal Burton’s work as a stunt expert didn’t stop after his roles on “Bonanza” and “Little House on the Prairie.”

In fact, Burton would go on to have a successful career in film as well. He was credited for some kind of stunt in “Iron Man,” “The Fugitive,” “Joy Ride,” “Django Unchained,” “The Lone Ranger,” “2 Fast 2 Furious,” “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,” “Rush Hour,” and many more.

He allegedly had stayed close to Michael Landon during his life as well.

According to Wide Open Country, Lorne Greene, who played Ben Cartwright, was doing his own not-so-dangerous stunt on his own. However, it still went wrong in a different way. He jumped into a lake for a shot and his hairpiece fell off. He apparently didn’t like for people to see him without it.

Allegedly, he reached from below the water, grabbed it, put it back on his head, then eventually emerged from the water. He acted as if nothing happened.