Bring Bonanza Home!

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 The Bonanza Collection

 The Best of Bonanza Vol. 1 & 2

 Bonanza 8-DVD Pack

 Bonanza - 15 TV episodes

 A Reference Guide to Television's Bonanza


Show Type: Western

First Telecast: September 12, 1959

Last Telecast: January 16, 1973

Theme Music: "Bonanza," by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans

Broadcast History:

September 1959-September 1961, Saturday 7:30-8:30 on NBC

September 1961-September 1972, Sunday 9:00-10:00 on NBC

May 1972-August 1972, Tuesday 7:30-8:30 on NBC

September 1972-January 1973, Tuesday 8:00-9:00 on NBC


Ben Cartwright..... Lorne Greene

Little Joe Cartwright..... Michael Landon

Eric "Hoss" Cartwright (1959-1972)..... Dan Blocker

Adam Cartwright (1959-1965)..... Pernell Roberts

Hop Sing..... Victor Sen Yung

Sheriff Roy Coffee (1960-1972)..... Ray Teal

Candy (1967-1970, 1972-1973)..... David Canary

Dusty Rhoades (1970-1972)..... Lou Frizzel

Jamie Hunter (1970-1973)..... Mitch Vogel

Griff King (1972-1973)..... Tim Matheson

Deputy Clem (1961-1973)..... Bing Russell


Set in the vicinity of Virginia City, Nevada, during and after the Civil War, soon after the discovery of the fabulous Comstock Silver Lode, Bonanza was the story of a prosperous family of ranchers. Widower Ben Cartwright was the patriarch of the all-male clan and owner of the thousand-square-mile Ponderosa Ranch. Each of his three sons had been borne by a different wife, none of whom was still alive. Adam, the oldest of the half brothers, was the most serious and introspective, the likely successor to his father as the controlling force behind the sprawling Cartwright holdings. Hoss, the middle son, was a mountain of a man who was as gentle as he was huge, at times naive and not particularly bright. Little Joe was the youngest, most impulsive and most romantic of the Cartwright offspring. The adventures of these men, individually and collectively, their dealings with the mining interests and the ranching interests, and the people whose paths crossed theirs made up the series Bonanza.

The program was not a traditional shoot-em' up Western. It relied more on the relationships among the principals and the stories of the characters played by weekly guest stars than it did on violence. Many of the episodes explored serious dramatic themes.

Bonanza premiered on Saturday night in the fall of 1959, and was the first Western to be televised in color. It was at first only moderately successful, but two years later, when it moved to Sunday night as the replacement for The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, it soared in popularity. For most of the 1960's, Bonanza ranked as one of the highest-rated programs on television, placing number one for three seasons between 1964-1967. It's driving theme song, written by two Hollywood songsmiths who had written many top movie hits of the 1940's and 1950's, was on the hit parade. Bonanza finished second only to Gunsmoke as the longest-running, most successful Western in the history of television.

There were cast changes over the years. Pernell Roberts left the series at the end of the 1964-1965 season and his role was written out of the show. At the start of the 1967-1968 season, a wanderer named Candy was hired as a ranch hand for the Cartwrights and practically became one of the family. Three years later, when Candy left the series (he later returned), two other new cast members arrived to join the Ponderosa household. Dusty Rhoades was a friend of Ben's, and Jamie Hunter, his charge, was an orphaned teenaged son of a rainmaker who had been killed. Prior to the start of production for the 1972-1973 season, Dan Blocker died unexpectedly. His loss, coupled with a move to a new day and time, after 11 years on Sunday night, may have contributed to the poor ratings performance that resulted in Bonana's cancellation in the middle of its 14th season.

During the summer of 1972, while Bonanza was still being aired on Sundays, reruns from the 1967-1970 period were shown on Tuesdays at 7:30pm under the title Ponderosa. Bonanza itself moved to Tuesdays that September.

PAX aired a prequel, The Ponderosa, during the 2001-2002 season.