‘Little House on the Prairie’: The Unusual Way Michael Landon Picked His Stage Name

by Keeli Parkey

Before he starred on the classic television shows “Bonanza” and “Little House on the Prairie,” Michael Landon was just another actor trying to decide what his stage name should be.

According to an article on MeTV.com, Michael Landon’s given name was Eugene Maurice Orowitz during 1936. Early in his acting career, Landon decided he needed to select a different name to use for his career. So, he turned to the telephone book. That seems odd, but if you need a list of names, that’s not a bad place to look.

Thanks to his search through the telephone book, the actor who came to be known as Michael Landon first chose the name Michael Lane. However, according to information on HistoryGarage.com, he couldn’t use that name due to Actor’s Guild rules. Because there was another actor already in the Actor’s Guild with the name Michael Lane, the actor had to choose another stage name. So, back to the telephone book he went. There, he reportedly spotted the name “Alf Landon.” And just like that, Eugene Maurice Orowitz became Michael Landon.

Michael Landon Once Released a Pop Single

In addition to the fact that Michael Landon was not the name he was given at birth, there is something else you might not know about the famous actor. This fact is that he once released a pop music single. The single was called “Gimme A Little Kiss (Will ‘Ya’ Huh).”

Landon released the single in 1957 a few years before he began his tenure on “Bonanza” on television. “Gimme A Little Kiss (Will ‘Ya’ Huh)” was written by Turk, Smith, and Pinkard during the 1920s.

Even though Michael Landon’s venture into the music industry wasn’t very popular in America, it was popular in Canada. During September 1957, his version of “Gimme A Little Kiss (Will ‘Ya’ Huh)” reached number 40 on the Canadian CHUM chart. It was also reportedly popular in Sweden.

Actor Became Director, Writer on ‘Bonanza’

Michael Landon worked on “Bonanza” from 1959 to 1973. By the time the show entered its 14th and final season, he had risen up the ranks to be a writer and director as well as an actor.

For the wedding in the 14th season, Michael Landon originally planned for Hoss Cartwright to get married. Sadly, Dan Blocker, who played Hoss on “Bonanza,” died in 1972. His death in May of that year was unexpected and was the result of a pulmonary embolism that occurred after he had surgery to remove his gall bladder.

With his co-star having passed away, Michael Landon had to come up with another idea for the episode. So, he decided to make the episode about Little Joe and his marriage with Alice. That is the version that aired on television.