HomeEntertainment‘Bonanza’: Michael Landon Directed Series Finale ‘The Hunter’

‘Bonanza’: Michael Landon Directed Series Finale ‘The Hunter’

by Charles Craighill
(Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

If you watched Bonanza, you probably know Michael Landon as “Little Joe Cartwright” on the show. What you might not have known, however, is that Michael Landon actually wrote and directed several episodes. In fact, he wrote and directed the iconic final episode, “The Hunter.” He also wrote and directed fourteen other episodes between 1968 and the final episode in 1973. Some of the big ones include “The Love Child” from 1970 and “The Younger Brother’s Younger Brother” from 1972.

After his eight-year stint with Bonanza, Michael Landon found success with several other television series. For instance, Landon moved on to Little House on the Prairie in 1974. There, he wrote and directed almost fifty episodes. He had even more success with Highway to Heaven In the 1980s writing and directing almost one hundred episodes.

Bonanza Star Michael Landon Lived a Busy Life

Michael Landon wrote, directed, and acted in Bonanza, Little House on the Prarie, and Highway to Heaven from the 1960s through the 1980s. With all of that going on, it’s hard to imagine that he had time for anything else in his life. However, the “Little Joe Cartwright” actor juggled his life on and off the screen masterfully.

For example, over the course of his career and three marriages, the Bonanza star fathered nine children. He adopted several from his wives’ previous marriages, however, he still took care of each of them like his own. He spoke about that in an interview with People magazine in 1962. “I hate it when someone calls them ‘adopted’… They’re my sons–period,” Landon said in the interview. “Not my ‘adopted sons.’ They’re my sons and I’m their father until they die–or I die.”

As a dedicated father and a star actor, writer, and director in Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, and several other shows, Michael Landon certainly led a very successful career. Unfortunately, he passed away due to pancreatic cancer in 1991. The form was particularly aggressive and it killed him by the first of July that year, just a few months after his diagnosis. He was only 54 years old. Despite his early death, Michael Landon became one of the most beloved actors in classic television history. His work behind the scenes also had a strong impact on television.