‘Bonanza’: Michael Landon Once Got Called ‘Dirty Name’ on Set After ‘Testing’ Show Producer

by Matthew Wilson

Michael Landon may have been the lead star on the western “Bonanza.” But behind the scenes, he sometimes liked to test the upper management. For instance, a producer once called Landon a dirty name while on the set of the hit series.

Late producer Kent McCray may have ended up becoming good friends with Landon. But the two’s first encounter was less than cordial. In a 2016 interview with Medium, McCray discussed how he and Landon were initially at odds.

“We had a few arguments that day while we were out on location, and he was the lead actor in this particular episode,” McCray recalled. “Mike hollered at me and wanted to know if I had a car available for him because he had to be at NBC that afternoon for a meeting.”

The afternoon meeting ended up being a bit of a mystery for McCray. For one, Landon was the star of the episode that they were filming. Production needed him on set because the actor was going to be in almost every scene they filmed. Secondly, McCray didn’t have any meetings scheduled for Landon that afternoon. Neither did Paramount nor NBC for that matter.

Kent McCray and Michael Landon Trade Words

Later in the day, Michael Landon approached the producer about leaving. He insisted that he was leaving the set whether the producer had secured a car for him or not. Despite Landon’s star power, Kent McCray refused to buckle or give into Landon’s demands.

“I didn’t mince any words: ‘Okay, if you leave, I can suspend you,'” McCray recalled. “‘You will be a suspended actor who won’t get paid. You committed to this set, and you’ve got to stay here, whether you like it or not. So if you think you have a meeting, fine, but you’re not going.'”

It turned out to be a ruse by the actor. Landon wanted to test McCray’s resolve as a producer on “Bonanza.” And McCray passed with flying colors, but not without a bit of colorful language thrown Landon’s way as well.

“That made me real mad, and I probably called him a dirty name,” McCray continued. “I told him, ‘Don’t ever test me. You don’t need to do that. I have my job, and you have your job. I’ll support you any way I can, but don’t give me this crap about testing me. I won’t put up with it. And we became very good friends from that point on. I remained with ‘Bonanza’ until it ended in 1973, and I continued to work with Mike on all of his future projects.”