While Landon was a big fan of the show, both as an actor and as a writer/director, this led to some trouble on set. It was said that during the last couple of seasons of filming, Michael Landon got increasingly harder to work with.
He did not want any new characters introduced into the cast of the show. He also had a specific vision for the show and the direction it was going in, so it was said that he would become difficult and delay the shoots for various reasons. He loved the show so much he wanted to take total control.
A Plot To Sell Color TVs
“Bonanza” was not always the biggest hit. In fact, it was almost canceled after season 1. That is so hard to believe, as it went on to run for over four hundred episodes!
“Bonanza” was one of the first television shows to be filmed and aired in color. Its season 1 ratings were terrible, but NBC kept it on the air for one specific reason - to sell more color TVs! RCA was actually the parent company to NBC, and RCA was really pushing the sales of color TVs. Luckily, the show continued to gain massive popularity and ended up lasting for many more seasons!
Michael Landon's Obsession With 'Bonanza'
Michael Landon absolutely loved his job, and loved the show “Bonanza”. He was very loyal to the show, and was even seen in 402 of the 416 episodes.
Additionally, Michael Landon got his start in directing, as well as writing, while on the show. In fact, Michael Landon even wrote some of the cast’s favorite episodes. He directed some episodes as well. He was such a fan of the show, which made it really special for him to not only act in it, but have these other roles as director and writer as well.
'M*A*S*H' Didn't Take Dan Blocker
Robert Altman had high hopes for Dan Blocker, as Dan was his top choice for the star of the film MASH. The producers of the film, however, did not have the same high opinion of Dan, and he ultimately did not get the role, despite Altmans requests.
MASH went on to be a massive success, even without Dan Blocker. But, can you imagine what it would have been like to see Dan in the film? Interestingly enough, Dan’s son, Dirk Blocker appeared on the TV series MASH as a wounded soldier. It seems MASH came full circle in this family.
Dan Blocker's Death Is TV History
In 1972, just a few weeks before they started filming the last season of “Bonanza”, tragedy struck. Dan Blocker passed away. It was all very unexpected, and because it was so close to when they were beginning to film the next season, they had to figure out what to do. Dan’s character was already written into all of the episodes.
The writers, including Michael Landon, had to re-write the episodes to incorporate his death. This sad event made history, as it was the very first time in the history of television that a character’s death was mentioned on air!