Sometimes, our emotions get the best of us. For Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie legend Michael Landon, that once happened overseas.
The cast of Bonanza was out on the road, as they often were. The cast of the show would perform at various events and do meetings with the press. The latter was the setting of one of Michael Landon’s most controversial moments.
The TV legend was in Europe, specifically in Sweden to do work for the show. He told the story to fellow TV icon Johnny Carson on his late night show.
“I did a tour in Sweden once,” Landon said. “While Bonanza was on. I checked with the guys, some guys wrote my act… They told me that everyone in Sweden, and this is many years ago, that it was compulsory, you had to take English in school. So they said, ‘Tell all your jokes in English, no problem.'”
Evidently, Landon’s “guys” got some bad info because the packed-out Swedish crowd did not understand his jokes. However, the Bonanza star had an ace card up his sleeve: pull out the fight scene.
“I just went into a fight scene,” Landon said. “Whenever I get in trouble, do a fight, have a guy come out and hit me with a phony liquor bottle and we beat each other up and people go crazy.”
So, the first problem in Sweden was solved easily enough. The second, not so much.
Bonanza Star Michael Landon Hits a Reporter
Landon continued the story by then transitioning into the evening after. Landon and the Bonanza crew had a banquet with somewhere around 50 press members.
But, like with the surprise at the show, Landon was in for another.
“I found out after I sat down that I was paying,” Landon said. “I was buying dinner for 50 people I didn’t even know. So I gave an interview to a fellow from one newspaper in Stockholm, the morning newspaper. The guy sitting next to me from the afternoon newspaper, I turned to him, he wants the same story I gave to the guy from the morning newspaper.”
The conflict becomes fairly apparent from there. The chase for a story, especially with a huge name like Michael Landon, can prompt some tension between a subject and a reporter. Further, the Bonanza star explained that he had a long day of performing and had a broken wrist.
The reporter than demanded Landon give him the story, and said he’d write negatively about Landon if he didn’t.
“He then goes into a tirade about the United States,” Landon explained. “What’s wrong with our country and he’s going on and on and on and I’m so tired.”
So, the Bonanza icon turned to his stuntman, Bobby Miles and asked him what he should do. Bobby reasoned that if Landon is paying, than he should take the plate away from the reporter. And that’s exactly what Michael Landon did.
“So now he jumps up and really does a number,” Landon said. “On what’s wrong with the [USA,] and I look at Bob and say, ‘I took his dinner, what do we do?’ He said hit him. So I get up and I hit him. The moment I hit him, [makes a click noise] all the cameras go right away.”
Funnily enough, the police dragged out the reporter rather than Landon. It wasn’t exactly Landon’s most composed moment, but definitely one of the most entertaining.