‘Bonanza’: Michael Landon Allegedly Had a Cast Member Removed for Being Too Handsome

NBC‘s iconic Western series Bonanza was everything fans could’ve asked for. The show had drama, family dynamics, and good-looking actors to play the Cartwright family. Michael Landon, who became well-known for his role on Little House on the Prairie, allegedly felt threatened by a Bonanza cast member who replaced Pernell Roberts. Here’s what went down.

Barry Coe temporarily replaced Pernell Roberts in ‘Bonanza’

Pernell Roberts, Michael Landon, Lorne Greene, and Dan Blocker in Western clothing in 'Bonanza'
Pernell Roberts, Michael Landon, Lorne Greene, and Dan Blocker | FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

While Bonanza nearly didn’t last after its first season, it became one of the most successful Westerns on television. And fans grew to know and love the cast. Michael Landon played Little Joe Cartwright, Dan Blocker played Eric “Hoss” Cartwright, Pernell Roberts played Adam Cartwright, and Lorne Greene played Ben Cartwright.

There was another character that many fans likely forgot about. Barry Coe played Clay Stafford in one episode after Roberts left his role as Adam Cartwright. According to MeTV, Roberts hated playing Adam in the TV series. When he died in 2010, his family released a statement that said the show “did not hold much creative interest for him.”

The show creators rushed to solve the character’s absence in Roberts’ absence. For that reason, they temporarily brought on Coe, a Southern California actor known for his good looks. Coe’s character, Clay, kills a man in self-defense and is later revealed to be Little Joe’s half-brother.

Michael Landon allegedly had Barry Coe cut from the cast because Coe was too handsome

Dan Blocker as Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright and Barry Coe as Clay Stafford in 'Bonanza'
Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright and Barry Coe as Clay Stafford | NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Given the Bonanza episode that Barry Coe starred in, he and Michael Landon spent much on-screen time together. Landon played Little Joe, Clay Stafford’s half-brother with whom he had a good relationship. But outside of the show, Landon reportedly wanted nothing to do with Coe.

According to Bonanza: Scenery of the Ponderosa, Landon didn’t want to share the screen with Coe out of jealousy. Landon was reportedly worried that Coe would take away from his screentime. This caused production to head into a secret meeting that Coe didn’t know the nature of. By the end of the three-hour meeting, it was decided that Coe’s character would be left out of future episodes to save face with Landon.

While Landon might very well be the reason that Coe didn’t continue filming Bonanza, Coe reportedly thought highly of Landon. Coe recalled Landon as a nice co-star, and he reportedly had no idea that it was Landon who ultimately got him cut from the show.

How much did Michael Landon make on ‘Bonanza’?

Michael Landon with his hands on his hips on 'Bonanza'
Michael Landon | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
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Bonanza helped launch Michael Landon to serious fame and superstardom. So, how much did he make from the series?

According to IMDb, Landon, Dan Blocker, Pernell Roberts, and Lorne Greene made around $10,000 per episode once the show was well-established on primetime TV. Landon also joked that Roberts leaving the cast made the rest of the cast even richer.

“After he left, we took one leaf out of the dining room table and we all made more money because we split the take three ways instead of four,” Landon joked.

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