Bonanza was the first color western and one of
the longest running TV shows. Bonanza first aired in 1959 on NBC and there were 430 sixty
minute episodes produced. The series followed the adventures of the Cartwright clan who owned a 1000 square
mile timber range known as The
Ponderosa just outside Virginia City.
Head of the Cartwright family was Ben
Cartwright (Lorne Greene)who was a widower. Michael Landon played the youngest son Little Joe with Dan Blocker the middle
son Eric "Hoss" Cartwright and Pernell Roberts as the oldest son Adam Cartwright. All three sons had
different mothers and all being deceased.
There were several cast changes over the
years with Pernell Roberts leaving in 1965. In 1967 a drifter named Candy arrived and was hired as a ranch hand and
became part of the family. Three years later two other cast members arrived to help on
the Ponderosa. Dusty
Rhodes, a friend of Ben's and Jamie Hunter, an orphan. The series lasted 14 years but after the death of
Dan Blocker at age 43 the demise of the series was evident. NBC moved it from Sunday to Tuesday and that
forever sealed it.
The Bonanza Cast:
Little Joe Cartwright
Eric "Hoss" Cartwright
Victor Sen Yung
Sheriff Roy Coffee