‘Bonanza’: Lorne Greene and Other Stars Would Perform Songs, Jokes at Rodeos

by Jon D. B.
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Watch as television icons Michael Landon (Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie) and Johnny Carson discuss the former’s rodeo days in 1976.

It’s no secret to classic television fans that Michael Landon and Johnny Carson were good pals. These two, incredibly influential on their own, were always a fantastic pairing for interviews and events. In this Tonight Show clip from their March 2, 1976 sit-down, Carson ribs his buddy Landon about certain events the Bonanza star would do himself during the show’s filming.

“I remember when you guys did Bonanza, all you guys would go out – Lorne [Greene], Dan Blocker, and yourself – went out and did fairs and rodeos,” the late night legend gestures to Landon.

“Oh, we loved ’em!” Landon replies with a smile.

“You had to get some sort of act together,” The Tonight Show host continues, leaning in to his friend. “What’d you do in the act?”

“Well Lorne generally did an act with Dan, sometimes he did it single,” the Bonanza star details. “I went out single, too. You sing songs, tell jokes,” he grins, knowing what Carson’s about to ask.

“You told jokes at rodeos? Can you remember some of these jokes?” Carson smiles.

Michael Landon Nails a ‘Bonanza’ Hoss Joke in 1976

And remember Landon does.

“Some of the blockbusters!” Carson lauds of the comedy-gold he knows has to be coming.

“Some of the biggies…” Landon laments of the material. “Well, we used to talk about how much Hoss ate for dinner,” he recalls of Dan Blocker’s famous character. “We would say, ‘oh, when he’s not eating food he would lie in his bed and he would dream about eating food. At night I would hear noises from the room,” Landon continues before making a pig-like snarl. “Then one morning, he had a terrible dream! He dreamed he ate a 25-pound marshmallow… Woke up the next morning and his pillow was gone!”

Okay, that one got me. It got Carson and his audience at the time, too, with the Bonanza legend‘s delivery making it priceless.

There’s no following up that joke with another, either, so the two pals continue to laugh and joke on everything from Landon “riding an enraged chicken” into rodeos, to the lyrics to the Bonanza theme song. Which, by the way, do exist.

For plenty more from these two television icons – including those promised, 100% real Bonanza lyrics – watch the delightful full interview below:

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