John Schneider took on quite a challenging role back in 1999 when he portrayed Michael Landon of “Bonanza” in a biopic of his life.
Schneider, who played “Bo” Duke on CBS’s “The Dukes of Hazzard,” played Landon in “Michael Landon, the Father I Knew.”
The TV movie is directed by Landon’s son, Michael Landon Jr. It reflects the way Landon Jr. saw his life unfold when his parents divorced when he was 15 years old.
Movie Focuses On ‘Bonanza’ Star’s Life Away From Camera
Landon Jr. focuses on his father’s womanizing and how it led to him divorcing Landon Jr.’s mom, Lynn Noe. The story tells how Landon got involved with a makeup artist while working on “Little House on the Prairie.” It would lead to divorce.
Michael Landon died on July 1, 1991, from pancreatic cancer. Noe died on Nov. 26, 2015.
As for Schneider, he was on “The Dukes of Hazzard” for six seasons. He appears in “Smallville” for 103 episodes. He has continually worked on TV and in movies for more than three decades.
He’s also been a country music singer, putting out a number of singles and albums since the 1980s.
Director Calls Michael Landon ‘Worst Speller in the World’
Michael Landon is known to have had a desire to prove himself as a writer. One of the main producers on “Bonanza” gets a Landon script.
David Dortort was an accomplished screenwriter and producer. His role in creating “Bonanza” speaks to this fact. Landon used his success to take a shot at writing. He took an idea for a script to Dortort.
Landon handed him a script a few weeks later. It was 28 pages and intended for an hour-long show. The general rule is roughly 60 pages for a show that length. When Dortort points this out to Landon, the actor said, “you write the rest.” The producer told Landon he had to write the script himself if he wanted to be a writer.
Dortort calls Landon “one of the worst spellers in the world.” But Dortort had sympathy from where Landon came from, a hard, dysfunctional family. He worked with Landon to make it work.