Bonanza

Bonanza Cast

Series Description

The Bonanza TV show was a 60 minute western action series on NBC about a widowed man and his sons' lives on their 1,000 square mile ranch near Virginia City, Nevada in the time period shortly after the end of the civil war. The father did an excellent job of raising the boys to be good, honest men who help those in need and protect their ranch ... The Ponderosa. The show made huge stars out of Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Dan Blocker and Pernell Roberts. Other TV show producers were begging them to "guest-star" hoping that a small portion of Bonanza's large audience would tune in! They all went on to star in other series except Dan Blocker who sadly died in 1972. The series lasted from September 12, 1959 to January 16, 1973 for a total of 431 episodes!

Bonanza Cast

Lorne Greene .... Ben Cartwright
Michael Landon .... Joseph "Little Joe" Cartwright
Dan Blocker .... Eric "Hoss" Cartwright
Pernell Roberts .... Adam Cartwright
Victor Sen Yung .... Hop Sing
Ray Teal .... Sheriff Roy Coffee
Bing Russell .... Deputy Clem Foster
Slim Pickens .... Marshall
Harry Holcombe .... Doc Martin
David Canary .... Candy Canaday
Mitch Vogel .... Jamie Hunter-Cartwright
Lou Frizzell .... Dusty Rhoades
Remo Pisani .... Bartender
Tim Matheson .... Griff King

Bonanza Trivia

At first, NBC wanted established stars for the cast of Bonanza. The producer of Bonanza, David Dortort, was the first to understand that this "new" medium of television would create its own stars. The TV show was not an immediate success. A lousy time slot on Saturday evenings sure didn't help. The only thing that actually kept the show alive for the first two years was that it was one of the few series shown in Color. RCA owned NBC and wanted Bonanza's beautiful colorful vistas to sell their new line of color televisions. When the show was moved to Sunday nights, its ratings improved dramatically.

Each of Ben Cartwright's sons had a different mother. All of Ben's former wives had died. Female family members were a definite "taboo" on the series. The successful theme of the show, after all, was the strong widower raising his sons as a single parent. In keeping with that theme, the sons female relationships were doomed to failure. Anytime one of them started developing a love interest, you could be sure they'd either die soon or they'd do something so terrible that the son in question could "dump" them without being seen as a "cad" or they'd have some good reason why they simply had to leave the area. So many love interests died that Michael Landon once said that the Cartwrights had to be careful or their horses would trip over the graves of one of the past female characters.

Pernell Roberts eventually became disatisfied with the scope of his role on Bonanza. One of the things producers tried to keep him happy was to give him a wife. A young widow named Laura Dayton was introduced and Adam Carwright courted her. They soon became engaged. The producers were overwhelmed with protests from (mostly) female fans and they dropped any further ideas of any Cartwright marriages! Pernell later got his own TV series, "Trapper John, M.D. (1979)" where he played the role of one of the doctors from the series, "M*A*S*H (1972) after that character returned to the U.S. from serving in the Korean War.

Ben Cartwright's horse was named was "Buck". Adam's first horse was named "Beauty" but it was to high-spirited so he got another named "Sport". Hoss' was named "Chub" and Little Joe's was named "Cochise".

Bonanza was the most globally broadcast show ever. It was aired in every nation on Earth that had a single TV station!

Before Bonanza, Lorne Greene was a popular personality on several radio programs in his native Canada. He was actually known as "The Voice Of Canada". After Bonanza, he went on to star in two more series, "Battlestar Galactica (1978)" and "Code Red (1981)". He also made numerous appearances as a guest star on other series.

After a dozen years on the air, Bonanza started dropping in the ratings. When Dan Blocker, the lovable "Hoss" died in 1972, it pretty much killed the show.

Michael Landon is the only actor to have three TV shows run consecutively for 5 years or more each. They were: "Bonanza (1959-1973)", "Little House on the Prairie (1974-1983)" and "Highway to Heaven (1984-1989)".

Theme Song

Title: "Bonanza"

By: "Ray Evans & Jay Livingston"

We got a right to pick a little fight ... Bonanza!
If anyone fights anyone of us, he's gotta fight with me!

We're not a one to saddle up and run ... Bonanza!
Anyone of us who starts a little fuss, knows he can count on me!

One for four
Four for one,
This we guarantee.

We got a right to pick a little fight ... Bonanza!
If anyone fights anyone of us, he's gotta fight with me!


(This version, while never broadcast, most closely matches Bonanza's theme music at the beginning of each episode. There were two other versions of the Bonanza theme song. One actually aired on the pilot episode and yet another was recorded by Lorne Greene)

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