‘Bonanza’: Michael Landon Turned Down Several Bizarre Shows After Program’s End

by Joe Rutland
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Michael Landon had a lot of different offers for programs once his hit NBC western “Bonanza” ended its run. They were, at times, bizarre.

Landon, who played “Little Joe” Cartwright for 14 seasons, took a little time off between “Bonanza” and “Little House on Prairie.” That didn’t keep people from bringing different types of shows to his attention.

Barbara Walters of ABC interviewed Landon and asked him why he chose to do “Little House on the Prairie.”

“Well, after ‘Bonanza’ was over, I didn’t want to jump into another series right away,” Landon said. “I was doing a lot of directing and writing. When an actor works a lot, if he’s out of work for one day, he panics. You know, ‘I’ll never work again.’ In my case, I’m very lucky that I can do other things so I wasn’t in a hurry.

“During that nine- or about 10-month period,” Landon said. “The shows that were offered to me were the usual detective shows.” He references “the medical shows to the point of one person who only dealt with incurable diseases.” Not to mention the doctor who cures patience and solves crimes in a single go.

“‘The man from another planet’ type thing,” Landon said. “And all during that time, none of those things appealed to me. I was in the process of writing a pilot for myself.”

Landon ended up taking on “Little House on the Prairie” and playing Charles Ingalls on the NBC family drama.

‘Bonanza’ Star Dealt With Transition Between Hit NBC Shows

Landon also made sure some of the people who worked on “Bonanza” also worked with him on “Little House on the Prairie.”

In a 1974 Interview with Bobbie Wygant, Landon detailed what the transition between both shows was like. Wygant joked that Landon was going from a set filled with men to one where women also were present.

“A lot of the guys we had on the ‘Bonanza’ crew are back with us,” Landon said.

“It’s a little different atmosphere, isn’t it, with all those women around?” Wygant asked.

“It’s the same laughs – that doesn’t change,” Landon replied. “We have an awful lot of fun on the show. I don’t think you can make a show week in and week out and work that kind of schedule if you’re not having a good time.”

Michael Landon would have yet another hit show with “Little House on the Prairie,” followed by “Highway to Heaven.” But his life ended in 1991 after a battle with cancer. Despite all of the other success in his career, Landon remains known best for his time on “Bonanza.” The family western drama remains popular from one generation to another.

Outsider.com