‘Bonanza’: Why Michael Landon Wore the Same Clothes in Every Episode

NBC’s Bonanza was one of the longest-running Westerns. With 14 seasons and 440 episodes aired, fans remember the Cartwrights well — and many viewers also remember that for 11 of those 14 seasons, the Cartwrights wore the same clothing day after day. So, why did Michael Landon’s character, Little Joe Cartwright, always wear the same green jacket, hat, and later on, black gloves? Here’s what to know.

‘Bonanza’ cast members wore the same clothing for each episode after season 4

Michael Landon standing over a woman on the ground in 'Bonanza'
Michael Landon in ‘Bonanza’ | NBCU Photo Bank

Bonanza ran from 1959 to 1973 and focuses on the Cartwright family. Fans who watched the early episodes know the series starred Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker, and Michael Landon — and they were easy to identify in each episode, as they wore the same clothing.

According to Outsider, the Cartwrights wore the same clothing in every episode from season 4 and beyond. This was a choice made by the directors. With every cast member in the same clothing for every scene in all of the episodes, the editors had an easier time reusing stock footage for action sequences. Many episodes of Bonanza involved intense action, and some of that footage was used multiple times in multiple seasons. Also, standardizing the wardrobe made it easy for the costume designers to duplicate the clothing for the stunt doubles.

Keeping the wardrobe consistent had another fantastic effect on the show — branding. Fans knew a Cartwright outfit when they saw one, which likely helped the show’s recognizability.

Michael Landon joked about wearing platform boots

Dan Blocker, Michael Landon, Lorne Greene, and Pernell Roberts standing together in 'Bonanza'
Dan Blocker, Michael Landon, Lorne Greene, and Pernell Roberts | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Michael Landon’s Little Joe Cartwright had a very distinct outfit in Bonanza. As for his signature black gloves, Get-Reinvented reports Landon slipped them on one day and decided they were the perfect addition to his character. Landon’s footwear was also often discussed, as he had to wear platform boots to appear taller in the series.

According to ALOT Living, Landon was often the shortest person on the show’s set — and he didn’t like it. To combat this, he wore platform boots that gave him a four-inch boost. Landon also wore platforms while filming Little House on the Prairie, as he wanted to be the tallest.

“Of course, the Cartwrights, we all did get taller — we wore those big boots,” Landon joked to Johnny Carson. “Every day, everybody would be a different size.”

How much did Michael Landon make on ‘Bonanza’?

A black and white headshot of 'Bonanza' cast member Michael Landon
‘Bonanza’ cast member Michael Landon | National Broadcasting Company/Getty Images
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Bonanza helped launch Michael Landon to superstardom, and he’ll forever be remembered as Little Joe Cartwright. So, how much did Landon make from Bonanza?

According to IMDb, Landon, Dan Blocker, Lorne Greene, and Pernell Roberts eventually made up to $10,000 per episode. By the time Landon died, he held a net worth of around $40 million. He died on July 1, 1991, of pancreatic cancer. Landon was just 54 years old at the time of his death. Additional estimates suggest Landon could’ve been worth $100 million if he was still alive in 2022. He would’ve been about 86 years old today.

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