Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.
TV URBAN LEGEND: Barry Coe was hired and fired from Bonanza all in the time in took to film one episode.
Initially, Bonanza starred four actors, Lorne Greene (as Ben Cartwright) and Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker and Michael Landon (as his three sons, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe)….
Roberts was not a huge fan of the material of the series, and very early on he began making noise about wanting to leave the series. The first instance of the producers taking Roberts’ demands seriously came in the beginning of the fourth season, when in the first episode they added actor Barry Coe to the cast as Little Joe’s roguishly charming half-brother Clay Stafford.
The casting was a bit of a game of chicken between the producers and Roberts. “You want to leave, well here you go, we have a replacement for you.”
However, the producers were not counting on the reaction that they would receive from a DIFFERENT cast member.
Michael Landon did not like the addition, as he felt that Coe encroached on his role within the series – the handsome young heartthrob, for lack of a better description.
So in the midst of filming the episode, production took a break. The producers and the main cast huddled up in a meeting and when they were finished, Coe was no longer a cast member. The script for the episode was re-written with Coe’s character choosing to keep on moving down the line rather than settling down on the Ponderosa with the rest of the Cartwrights.
This would not be the last time that Landon would get involved in the casting of the show (I’ll get around to another instance in a future installment of TV Urban Legends Revealed).
The legend is…
Thanks to the great Bonanza website, Bonanza: Scenery of the Ponderosa, for the information.
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.