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Michael Landon, Flower Children & A Country Bumpkin

Hi and welcome to my blog, which I like to call Short Stories about Big People.  I have had the privilege of meeting some very special people.  One of them was my friend Michael Landon.

When Michael Landon was doing “Highway to Heaven” for NBC, I went to him on behalf of my youngest son, Corey, who was trying to break into the stunt business.  I had no trouble setting up a meeting with Michael.  At that meeting he told me that he was not using any stunt men on “Highway to Heaven” because it was such a benign show, but if he ever needed one, he said he’d let me know.

I sort of fluffed it off and didn’t think any more about it until a year later when I got a call from Michael and he said “Bob, I need a stunt man.”  Evidently they had decided to put a little excitement into “Highway to Heaven” and started incorporating some action into the plot.

What I found most amazing was he called me even though he knew hundreds of stunt men from working on “Bonanza” and “Little House on The Prairie” and yet he fulfilled his promise by calling me.  Corey went to work for Micheal and was the on-screen double for Micheal for a short time until other commitments came up.  Corey suggested my older son, Trace, would be perfect for the job.  Trace not only became Michael’s double, but worked as the stunt coordinator on “Highway to Heaven.” Both boys actually worked on the last pilot Micheal produced shortly before he died.  It was called “Us.”

Micheal Landon was one of the classiest people that I have met in the business.  The world is much less with out him.

Two weeks after the Beatles left town in 1965 we booked a Hollywood Bowl Concert with Bob Dylan who, at the time, had a hit record on the charts “Like a Rolling Stone.” At this concert, I saw hippies for the very first time.  We were in the middle of the Viet Nam War and the whole anti-war drug culture was about to arrive.  They came in buckskin, tie dye, cleavage to the moon, and the entire audience smelled like musk.  I thought I was on another planet.

The nice thing about these flower children was that they were sooooooo mellow we probably could have done without security except for the guy that came to the backstage area right before the concert.  He was holding a buckskin fringed jacket demanding to see Dylan.  He was giving security all kinds of trouble.  This guy in his three-joint slurred voice said “I wanna see Dylan!” I said, “Why?” He mumbled “I stole his jacket from his dressing room in Seattle and I wanna give it back to him!” I went to Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, and told him the story.  His eyes lit up and the young troublemaker was invited backstage and treated like a hero for bringing back what he stole.  I guess crime does pay!

Country music is full of humorous characters, one being a concert promoter from North Carolina.  I could fill up two or three columns telling stories about Carlton Haney.

The Merle Haggard group drove 700 miles one night to get to a Carlton Haney date in Philadelphia.  It seems that Carlton had booked a series of Haggard dates but forgot to advertise the Philly date.  Needless to say, it wasn’t a sellout.

After the Philadelphia debacle, Carlton called Fuzzy Owen, Haggard’s manager, trying to book more dates.  Fuzzy told Carlton that Haggard didn’t want to work for him anymore.  Carlton got mad and said “you tell Merle Haggard he’s an SOB!” and slammed down the phone.

What Carlton didn’t know was that Fuzzy was taping the conversation.  So when Haggard confronted Carlton about calling him an SOB, Carlton emotionality denied it.  Merle said “Carlton, I’ve got it right here on tape.  You called me an “SOB!”

Carlton’s classic response was, “Merle Haggered if that tape say anything other that whaat ahm telling you raht now, that tape is a liar!”  Well there you have it some more Short Stories About Big People.

I always like to leave you with something to think about… Thomas Edison once said “I didn’t fail, it just didn’t work 10,000 times”.

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