Was there a more charismatic icon of television than Michael Landon? The Little House on the Prairie and Bonanza star could make anything look good.
In terms of his time outside of acting, his most charismatic might have been when he was hanging out with Johnny Carson. Promoting new shows and talking in front of millions at home can hardly be called, “hanging out,” but that’s just the natural energy he and Carson could bring on The Tonight Show.
Back in 1974, the debut year of Little House on the Prairie, Michael Landon went on the show. He and Johnny Carson chatted about his career and life at home. Unsurprisingly, Landon had wisecracks and stories galore.
At one point, the dynamic duo discussed Landon’s storied run on Bonanza. While hindsight is 20/20 and betting on Michael Landon was always a good idea, there was no telling about the success of Little House on the Prairie.
With that context, the pair entered a back-and-forth and eventual “prank” for the ages.
“You did, Bonanza, what, 12 years? 9 Years? 10 Years?” Carson begins. Landon immediately ribs him and says, “How soon you forget us, John. 14 years.”
The crowd erupts into applause, and rightfully show. Few shows had the longevity and legacy of Bonanza. This is where Landon decides to have some fun.
“I don’t want to take it away from Bob Hope, but this is now my 26th anniversary on television,” Landon exclaims. Carson gives a hum of approval, and Landon reiterates, “It is.”
Carson mentions that he started on television in 1948, and the crowd begins to clap. Landon then pulls the rug with a hilarious mock.
“I lie and the people go, “ha ha ha ha.’ Jeez, I can’t believe it,” Landon finishes. Head to the 6:30 mark to see.
Bonanza Star Michael Landon and Johnny Carson Talk About Another ‘Lie’
After showing a clip from a Season 1 episode of Little House on the Prairie, the two entertainment icons go behind the scenes.
While not included in the above video, the featured scene is from Episode 3 of Season 1. After a hailstorm destroys the Ingalls’ wheat crop, Charles is forced to find work at a dynamite quarry. Explosions and a race later, Charles won, but that isn’t what got Johnny Carson.
“Wait a minute, that was a part of the dramatic plot tomorrow is throwing that dynamite in the outpost,” Carson asks with a grin.
“It’s a little eye-opener,” Landon says with a grin.
Carson immediately leads into a moment where Landon is holding a spike to be hammered down. \
“Were you holding that spike the guy was [hammering?]” Johnny Carson asks.
“Yes I was,” Landon quickly replied before his giveaway. “And it was a giant, rubber mallet.”
Carson looks to the crowd and both sides hilariously groan.
Two of the best, at their best. Entertainment wasn’t ever the same without them. Michael Landon died on July 1, 1991 while Johnny Carson unfortunately passed on January 23, 2005.