Whether you grew up watching the beloved Western in its heyday or caught it on perpetual re-runs years later, Bonanza has been one of the most popular and enduring programs in TV history. Watching patriarch Ben, oldest son Adam, lovable Hoss and Little Joe Cartwright work the Ponderosa was must-see TV, and it still holds up today. Think you know all about this classic family drama? Watch and learn a few things you didn’t know about Bonanza.
Here’s a transcript of the video:
It’s been several years since the Cartwright boys rode the vast ranges of the Ponderosa. What began as an almost failure blossomed into the second-longest running Western to hit the small screen, airing for 14 years!
1. TRULY EQUAL BILLING
There really was no star on Bonanza. Its four leads were given equal screen time in the credits. The producers would even swap the order in which the cast members were billed in order to keep things fair.
2. LORNE GREENE WAS A MUSIC STAR, TOO
Lorne Green actually capitalized on his image by releasing a string of country-and-western albums. He scored a number one hit with his ballad, “Ringo” and even performed a fictional history of the Ponderosa.
3. ‘BONANZA’ MEANS EXACTLY THAT
The show was named Bonanza after its real world counterpart, a slang term used by miners to describe a large mineral deposit, synonymous with “jackpot”. An actual bonanza was discovered close to the Cartwright’s ranch, the famous Comstock Lode.
4. THOSE COSTUMES
From season 4 to 14, the characters on the show only wore one set of distinctive outfits. Not only did this make the costume budget easier to swallow but also made for easier editing in the event of re-shoots.
5. ‘BONANZA’ ALMOST GOT CANCELLED … LIKE IMMEDIATELY
Bonanza’s competition (Perry Mason) proved to be so powerful, that NBC was tempted to cancel the cowboy show. However, Bonanza was one of the earliest shows to be filmed in color, so it provided temptation for people to buy color TVs like the ones sold by NBC’s parent company RCA.
6. DAN BLOCKER DIED BEFORE THE SHOW FINISHED
Dan Blocker, a.k.a Hoss, succumbed to a pulmonary embolism during a failed gall bladder surgery. The producers found themselves incapable of replacing the gentle giant so Hoss left the series, drowned trying to save someone’s life.
7. OH THAT MICHAEL LANDON
Michael Landon (Little Joe) was so committed to the role that he even began writing and directing episodes of the show. However, apart from being extremely difficult to work with, he was reportedly the reason that no new major characters were admitted to the cast.
8. LORNE GREENE IS ONE OF AMERICA’S FAVORITE TV DAD’S
One of the show’s producers, David Dortort was appalled at the way American fathers were represented in the media, so he made his series an hour long to better portray the kind, caring father that men should strive to be.
9. DAN BLOCKER, ALMOST MASH STAR
Blocker was one of Robert Altman’s top choices for an unknown lead role in MASH. Unfortunately for Blocker, the film’s producers refused to give Altman permission to cast the actor.
Which TV series do you want to know more inside secrets about?