‘Bonanza’ Producer Revealed Hilarious Story of Michael Landon Buying Alcohol While Dressed as a Priest

by Joe Rutland
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“Bonanza” star Michael Landon would love to pull pranks on people at times. Show producer Kent McCray remembers one of those situations.

“He was made up as a priest one night at one of the shows,” McCray said in an interview with the Archive of American Television. “And I didn’t drive him home that night. I had one of the drivers always ready to take him home.

“He said, ‘Can we stop at this liquor store? I want to get a bottle of wine for my dinner,'” McCray said. Landon, who played “Little Joe” Cartwright on “Bonanza,” gave these instructions to his driver. So the driver stopped and Landon still was wearing his priestly attire.

‘Bonanza’ Star Almost Didn’t Get His Bottle Of Wine Because Of Desk Clerk

“(Landon) brought the bottle of wine up to the desk,” McCray said. “And the guy said, ‘Father! I can’t let you spend that type of money on a bottle of wine. I can’t let you buy this.’

“He said, ‘No, no, I’m not a priest, I’m an actor,'” McCray, who worked on “Bonanza” with Landon, continued. “(The guy at the desk) said, ‘I’m telling you, Father, you’re not buying this wine.’ He (Landon) had to call the driver in to tell him that this was Michael Landon, that he was an actor.”

Landon, who died in 1991 from pancreatic cancer, believed in having a good time when possible. Even if it was at the whimsical nature of a front-desk clerk.

Landon Had A Lot Of Different Offers To Choose From After Show Ended

Once his time on “Bonanza” came to an end, Michael Landon was bombarded with a lot of show ideas.

None of them truly appealed to him much at all. What led him to do “Little House on the Prairie” then? ABC reporter Barbara Walters interviewed Landon and sought an answer.

“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.”

And the pilot Landon was writing? You guessed it. The one for “Little House on the Prairie.”

Outsider.com