NBC (ended 1973)
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  • Episode Guide
  • S 15 : Ep 3

    Bonanza: Under Attack

    Aired 1/15/95

  • S 15 : Ep 2

    Bonanza: The Return

    Aired 11/28/93

  • S 15 : Ep 1

    Bonanza: The Next Generation

    Aired 4/20/88

  • S 14 : Ep 15

    The Hunter

    Aired 1/16/73

  • S 14 : Ep 14

    The Marriage of Theodora Duffy

    Aired 1/9/73

  • Cast & Crew
  • Lorne Greene

    Ben Cartwright

  • Michael Landon

    Joseph "Little Joe" Francis Cartwright

  • Dan Blocker

    Eric "Hoss" Cartwright (1959-1972)

  • Pernell Roberts

    Adam Cartwright (1959-1965)

  • David Canary

    Candy Canaday (1967-1970, 1972-1973)

  • Photos (2)
  • show Description
  • White-haired Ben was the proud patriarch of the Cartwrights, the family at the center of one of TV's most beloved and long-running series. Their ranch, the Ponderosa, was 1,000 square-miles (600,000 acres) in size and sprawled from mountainous shores of Lake Tahoe to the desert terrain near Virginia City in the Nevada Territory. Ben oversaw his frontier empire with the help of his three sons: Adam, Hoss, and Joe. The series was set in 1859 when the series began and would progress through and following the Civil War. ---------------------------------- Series creator and producer David Dortort, who oversaw the series during its 14 year network run on NBC, says he first first got the idea for the series writing the 1953 episode of "Fireside Theatre" titled "Man of the Comstock." ---------------------------------- By 1959, NBC wanted a big filmed series to promote the sales of color television sets. NBC was the only network investing in color programs since its parent company RCA owned the electronic color transmitting system used by TV. "Bonanza" was just the type of show the network needed to "show off" its living color. In its initial season, it floundered in the ratings on Saturday nights against CBS' "Perry Mason"; it's said its renewal had a lot to do with its being shot in color. In the second season, "Bonanza" more than held its own in the Nielsens. It was the network's decision to move the series to Sunday nights that allowed it explode into a Top-10 hit. ---------------------------------- "Bonanza" differed in many ways from the dozens of other westerns on the air during its run. It relied more heavily on the characters than it did on action--though there was plenty of that. Good and bad weren't always as simple as "black hats" vs. "white hats"; many times, good people didn't live happily ever after. Despite that, Ben imparted a high code of ethics upon his sons. Among the principles: 1-Intolerance and bigotry were not acceptable. The Cartwrights often came to the defense of Indians, Chinese, and others who were the targets of the narrow-minded. 2-Once a man had paid his debt to society and was released from prison, he deserved a clean slate and a chance to start over. 3-The land was sacred. Ben's greatest business headaches came from his refusal to allow his land to be polluted and destroyed for profit. When the Cartwrights cut down a tree for lumber, they planted another. Their environmental concerns remain unique for a television series. ---------------------------------- Ben's path to his dream home of the Ponderosa (named for the Ponderosa Pine, plentiful in that area) was a long time in coming. He was a seaman, acting as first mate for Captain Abel Stoddard, when he met his boss' daughter Elizabeth and fell in love. She died after giving birth to first child Adam. Leaving the sad memories behind in the Northeast, he traveled to St. Louis and opened a trading company. He met and married the Swedish stunner Inger Inger Borgstrom who loved horses and shooting. She gave birth to son Hoss en route to the frontier, but was killed by an arrow during an ambush. Moving to New Orleans, Ben became an importer/exporter and fell for Creole beauty Marie DeMarigny. He made her wife number three and finally made it to the West. They established the Ponderosa and she gave him another son, Joseph. Marie died several years later in a riding accident. The story of each of these romance were detailed in individual episodes early in the series' run. ---------------------------------- The high mortality rate of women encountered by Ben and his sons, known jokingly as the "Cartwright Curse," became a running gag among comedians and viewers alike. If a female became a love interest to any of the show's men, even money says she'll be sick, dying, or dead by the end credits. --------------------------- Location filming kept the series from feeling "studio bound" and gave Bonanza a chance to highlight its color cinematography. Though much was filmed on a huge sound stage at Paramount Studios, scenes were regularly shot on the studio's outdoor "Western Street" and on locations throughout Southern California and Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The rising cost of shooting at Paramount eventually forced a move to the Warner Brothers studio in Burbank. To explain the new appearance of Virginia City, Season 12 began with "The Night Virginia City Died" where a huge fire destroyed the "old" town. ---------------------------------- Changes inevitably took place among cast members during "Bonanza"'s long run. After several years of complaining about being held back from a movie career, Pernell Roberts was finally sent on his merry way after of Season 6. Prior to that, amid fears of Roberts' departure, Guy Williams was brought in for a few episodes as Ben's nephew Will Cartwright. It's said the cast resented his character being added and he disappeared after five appearances. Beginning with "Sense of Duty" in Season 9, David Canary joined the cast as Ponderosa ranch foreman Candy Canady. He practically became a Cartwright, appearing in roughly a third of the series' total episodes. He disappeared with no mention at the end of season eleven after failing to get a raise from producer Dortort. Young orphaned teenager Jamie Hunter did become a real fourth Cartwright son when he was taken in by Ben in Season 12 and legally adopted in "A Home for Jamie" the next season. In the wake of Dan Blocker's death following Season 13, the cast was beefed up. David Canary returned as Candy (reportedly Michael Landon personally asked him to appear) and Tim Matheson was added a Griff King, a young man paroled into Ben's custody who was hired as a ranch hand. ---------------------------------- The loss of Blocker left a hole that simply couldn't be filled. This, combined with the show's move to Tuesday nights after eleven years on Sunday, dealt the series a death blow. Ratings took a nosedive and Bonanza aired it final episode in the middle of Season 14 on January 16. 1973. ---------------------------------- After all these years, Bonanza remains hugely popular. Besides the quality of the program itself, having filmed in color has kept it from looking "old". Episodes began to be released by CBS/Paramount on DVD beginning in 2009, and were uncut from their network airing with all the original music intact.moreless

  • Top Contributor
  • SrRui

    User Score: 970


  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (663)

    • Ben: Look at it, Adam. Feast thine eyes on a sight that approaches Heaven itself.

    • Hoss: Hop Sing, you know you can't do that. Why if you left here, I'd waste away to a shadow. You know that.

    • Ben: Mr. Burdette, we have our own way of doing business on the Ponderosa. We pay a honest day's wages for a honest day's work and we expect the same in return. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • Hoss: C'mon Little Joe, she's not for you. Stuff your eyes back in your head, they're about to pop out.

    • Hoss: I reckon that’s the way it is sometimes, you…you look at a cactus and you see a rose cause, cause a rose is what you want to see. I don’t reckon there’s anything wrong when you see something good and pretty. Sometimes I even do that myself. I get sorta lonely-like and I look for good and pretty things.

    • Major Hornsby: Treacherous devils. Adam: Well, what did you expect? A welcome mat?

    • Joe: You got yourself into some real trouble this time, big brother. Adam: Yeah. This time it's me and not you.

    • Hoss: (to Sam Clemens) I don't know about that name Mark Twain. It seem to me like that I've heard a lot better names than that before. You sure that's a fittin' name for a writer?

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    Notes (1219)

    • Yvonne DeCarlo was best known as Lily Munster, Herman's wife, on The Munsters (1964-1966).

    • For the first 10 episodes, the ending credits were scrolled over the familiar Ponderosa map with a (very) slightly different instrumental version of the Bonanza theme.

    • The opening credits for this episode used footage of the Cartwrights riding filmed at Janss Conejo Ranch, Conejo Valley, California and close-ups filmed on a sound-stage at Paramount Studios.

    • Scenes were filmed on location at the Iverson Ranch and Janss Conejo Ranch, both in California

    • Lorne Greene does his first voice-over of the series during this episode.

    • This episode is also known as "Death on Sun Mountain".

    • The opening credits for this episode used footage of the Cartwrights riding filmed at Janss Conejo Ranch, Conejo Valley, and close-ups filmed at Chavez Ravine, Elysian Park, both in California.

    • Scenes were filmed on location at Big Bear Lake, San Bernadino National Forest, California.

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    Trivia (367)

    • Yvonne De Carlo, who portrayed Lotta Crabtree, was about 37 at the time of this episode, the real-life child actress Lotta Crabtree would only have been 11 or 12. (At the beginning, the series was set in 1859.)

    • The cast sang the lyrics for the Bonanza theme in a scene to run at the end of the fourth act. However, it was so laughably ridiculous that it was cut and never made it on the air. This outtake featuring the Cartwrights' warbling has been shown since, but not as part of the series.

    • Adam makes a crack to Joe about "Your French Quarter mother" and the two get into a fight. In future episodes the topic comes up again. What is Adam implying about what Marie did before she met Ben?

    • Joe tells Lotta that his mother's name was Felicia. This is changed in later episodes to Marie.

    • Hop Ling is Hop Sing's father.

    • A landing had yet to be constructed for the ranch house's stairwell.

    • The word "Bonanza" is mentioned five times during this episode.

    • In one scene a rock "bounces".

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    Allusions (42)

    • Lotta Crabtree (1847-1924)
      When Bonanza began, the year was 1859, thus making Lotta 12-13 years old at this time. Even though she had started her career as a singer and dancer she would've been too young for even Joe Cartwright to consider.

    • Sam: Now, back a couple of months ago, I was in California, a place called Calaveras County and the folks there seemed to think that they wanted to hold a, sort of a...a little frog jumping contest.
      Mrs. Billington: Yeah, I heard about it. You’re the fellow who thinks up all that junk. Signs himself Josh.
      Sam is referring to the famous story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras Country, which has become one of Mark Twain’s most beloved short stories.

    • Mark Twain (1835-1910)
      Worked for the Territorial Enterprise newspaper from 1861 to 1864.

    • Julia Bulette (1838-1867)
      Moved to Virginia City around 1863 and was murdered in the "entertainment" district, four years later.

    • Philip Deidesheimer (1832-1906)
      Invented square-set mine timbering in 1861.

    • Chief Winnemucca (approx 1820 - 1882) - chief of the Northern Paiutes. He was also known as Poito

    • Sarah Winnemucca (1844-1891) - the daughter of Chief Winnemucca, was a political activist, lecturer, school organizer and author.

    • Henry TP Comstock (1820-1870) - Canadian silver prospector

    Show More Allusions
  • Fan Reviews (33)
  • Grandparents watch..........

    By schaitelh, Apr 04, 2015

  • Bonanzas in other things out

    By Gulcin_Duringer, Feb 22, 2014

  • Bonanza in Italian?

    By Zoezoezoe, May 27, 2013

  • Great classic tv series!

    By AndrewLarzzz, Jan 30, 2013

  • Bonanzza wearing gumbelts

    By parthanon2004, Aug 19, 2012

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