Remembering Michael Landon ....
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Joan van Ark
Anyone who has worked in . . . or watched television in Los Angeles for any length of time has a Michael Landon memory. My favorite one goes back to my almost first film job, when my husband and I moved out here from New York.
It was on Bonanza, when I was the guest star playing the title role as "Sweet Annie Laurie." Just like George Clooney today, Michael was drop-dead gorgeous and a prankster. Knowing that his fledgling young leading lady was predictably nervous, he would try to break the tension on the set with one of his practical jokes.
In one of the relatively dramatic scenes early in the shoot, "Sweet Annie" is hastily packing her things to leave, opening drawer after drawer and putting her folded lingerie and personal items into her suitcase.
Rehearsal began, and so did I . . . full tilt . . . emotions pumping, as I unloaded the dresser. And, just as I had timed it all perfectly to the end of the sequence, I opened the last drawer to find it loaded with . . . jockey shorts . . . belonging to Hoss, Ben and, of course, Little Joe.
The crew breaks up, the director breaks up. I turn around, and laughing hardest of all . . . is Mr. Landon.
God bless him. We miss him dearly.
P.S. A mini-memory is the fact that all the ladies working on the lot would race down to the commissary to be sure to be there when Michael came in off the set (for his lunch) and walked through . . . in those jeans. No one's "exit" was ever so carefully watched.
From the Bonanza episode "Sweet Annie Laurie"
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