Michael Landon played many characters throughout his life. His shows Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, and Highway to Heaven required him to wear different costumes. The late Little House on the Prairie producer Kent McCray told a funny story about the day Landon tried to purchase alcohol while dressed like a priest.
Michael Landon’s career
One of Landon’s early acting roles was in a 1955 episode of Luke and the Tenderfoot titled “The Boston Kid.” He played the role of Clyde Meacham. The following year, Landon appeared in an episode of The Sheriff of Cochise titled “Human Bomb.” He made his film debut in the 1957 movie I Was a Teenage Werewolf.
Landon’s fame grew after joining the Bonanza cast in 1959. He played Joseph “Little Jo” Cartwright until the show ended in 1973. Landon became a household name after playing Charles Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie from 1974 to 1983.
Landon continued to have success when he began playing Jonathan Smith on Highway to Heaven. Landon’s final on-screen appearance was in the TV movie Us.
Michael Landon once tried to buy alcohol while dressed as a priest
Landon sometimes went home in his TV costumes. One day, he decided to go home while dressed as a priest. On his way home, Landon decided to stop at a liquor store so he could buy a bottle of wine for dinner. However, the store clerk wouldn’t let Landon make the purchase. He didn’t recognize him, and he thought Landon was a religious leader.
According to McCray, the clerk said, “Father, I can’t let you spend this kind of money on a bottle of wine. I’m not gonna let you buy this.”
McCray said Landon told the clerk he wasn’t really a priest; he was an actor. However, the clerk insisted he wasn’t going to let him buy the wine. Landon had to get his driver to come into the shop and explain to the clerk that he was an actor, and he was wearing a costume.
Michael Landon tried to provide jobs for his employees
Going home in his work costume isn’t the only time Landon took his work home with him. He often thought about his employees well after the workday was done. Landon cared about his employees and wanted to make sure they had a steady income.
In Conversations with Michael Landon by Tom Ito, Landon spoke about the pressure he felt to keep his crew employed. He described them as people who took their jobs seriously, and he wanted them to be able to provide for themselves and their families. However, Landon sometimes felt “trapped” by the “obligation” to make sure everyone had a job.
“I have to get myself away from the obligation of keeping everybody working all the time, because I’m not the only person in town,” said Landon. “You trap yourself into an obligation to make everybody’s job.”