Michael Landon used to prank people on the Bonanza set with his pet tarantula

Landon loved to joke around on set.

Of all the incredible costars Michael Landon had enjoyed acting with on the set of Bonanza, we'd probably say that our personal favorite costar was his pet tarantula, Homer.

Cheryl Landon Wilson, author of I Promised My Dad: An Intimate Portrait of Michael Landon, paints a picture of varying periods through Landon's career. Wilson was still a child when her mother met Landon and married him, but she was able to get a firsthand look at Landon's personality.  Apparently, Little Joe was quite a prankster on set, and would often joke with those playing opposite him. Wilson recalled a particular prank on the set of Bonanza that involved Michael Landon's pet tarantula, Homer.

She wrote, "He'd put Homer underneath his hat, and then, during the filming, he'd lift his hat and Homer would go scurrying down his face." The prank was sure to shock fear into anyone, though victims were typically actresses filming scenes with Landon. Wilson stated, "Lots of actresses went scurrying off the set. Playing opposite Dad really kept people on their toes." 

That wasn't the only animal-involved prank Landon utilized on the set of Bonanza. Wilson wrote that during kissing scenes, Landon would hide a frog or lizard between his teeth. She wrote, "He would come on the set with his jaw locked. He'd receive his instructions from the director and then take the leading lady into his arms. She'd melt toward him and he'd lean into her and open his mouth, and out from between his lips would leap a frog or a lizard or whatever small creature he'd put behind his teeth." 

Wilson added that Landon wasn't alone in his love of tomfoolery. Apparently, Dan Blocker, also known as Hoss Cartwright, would often join Landon in his endeavors. 

So the next time you're daydreaming about being saved by Little Joe or Big Hoss and they lean in to give you a bit romantic kiss, just know that there's probably a small reptile just behind those beautiful teeth of theirs, and a big spider just underneath their cowboy hat.

Watch Bonanza on MeTV!

Monday - Saturday at 2 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

14 Comments

CoreyC 6 months ago
Michael Landon was a notorious prankster on Little House on the Prairie.
Mark 6 months ago
One director on the series, Joseph H. Lewis, thought they all clowned around too much on the set and actually said 'Cut!', to which they said, "You're not going to print that, are you?". "I am, if that's what you're willing to give me", replied Lewis. They apologized and promised to behave, and the episode was filmed without further issues. The producers wanted Lewis back to direct another episode, but he declined.
Snickers 6 months ago
That would have been one dead spider.
Moverfan Snickers 6 months ago
I'd have screamed so loud and so long that the cast of Adam-12 would have (eventually) heard me..and then maybe shoved his horse down his throat.
CaptainDunsel 6 months ago
Man, I'd have pranked him and his tarantula with my pet can of Raid!
WGH 6 months ago
I got to talk with Michael Landon when he was fairly sick with pancreatic cancer at the University of Pittsburgh medical center.

The administrators wanted to keep everyone away from him but he was actually upset that medical students didn't stop by to say hi. Even till the end, he was a very social person. We talked about "I was a teenage werewolf" mostly.

I'm too young to appreciate Bonanza at the time, and little house was seen as a show for girls.

WGH WGH 6 months ago
He was truly a super nice guy.
nashvilleproud73 WGH 6 months ago
Thank you for telling us this! I wasn't much of a "Bonanza" fan because as a young girl westerns didn't interest me, but I LOVED "Highway to Heaven" and "Little House on the Prairie"! They were two of my all time favorite TV shows.👍❤️😊
Andybandit 6 months ago
I would be scared, I hate spiders. I also hate snakes
AnnaRentzVandenhazel 6 months ago
I knew he played pranks on the set of Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven, like throwing his voice while Caroline was churning butter ("it's really dark in this churn Caroline!"), or when a woman on H2H asked "who are you?" He responded "I'm a Jewish actor!" Don't recall hearing about Bonanza pranks.
Irish 6 months ago
I remember Melissa Gilbert commenting on Michael Landon's frog in the mouth and other pranks. This is the first time I've heard of his pet tarantula! 🐸🕷️
Snickers Irish 6 months ago
Hope he never swallowed one or he would have had a frog in his throat.
Irish Snickers 6 months ago
😂😂😂😂😂
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?