From Academic Kids

This article discusses the television series. For the airplane see Beechcraft Bonanza.

Missing image
The Bonanza logo was superimposed upon a map of a wild west frontier area.

Bonanza was an American western/cowboy television program, the first regularly broadcast television program to be filmed in color. It aired on NBC from September 12, 1959 through January 16, 1973.

From 1961 to 1972 it aired on Sunday nights. This timeslot was crucial to the success of the show: from 1964 until 1967, the show was #1 in the yearly Nielsen ratings. In terms of longevity, the show was the second-most popular western in the history of television, behind Gunsmoke.

Bomanza starred Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Dan Blocker, Pernell Roberts, and Victor Sen Yung.

Bonanza got its name from the Comstock Lode which was "an exceptionally large and rich mineral deposit" of silver. Virginia City was founded directly over the lode and was mined for 19 years. Ponderosa was an alternative title of the series, often used for the broadcast of syndicated reruns in the 1970s and 1980s.

The show chronicled the weekly adventures of the Cartwright family, headed by widowed patriarch Ben Cartwright (Greene). He had three sons, each by a different wife: Joseph or "Little Joe" (Landon); Adam (Roberts); and Eric, better known to viewers by his nickname of "Hoss" (Blocker). The family's cook was the Chinese immigrant Hop Sing (Sen Yung). The family lived on a thousand-square-mile ranch called "The Ponderosa", on the shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada; the name refers to the Ponderosa Pine, common in the West. The nearest town to the Ponderosa was Virginia City, where the Cartwrights would go converse with Sheriff Roy Coffee (played by veteran actor Ray Teal).

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Bonanza's credits were names superimposed over coal drawings. This card was a rendition of creator/producer David Dortort, portrayed here as an overseer in mines.

The cast was very popular with viewers, and Lorne Greene recorded several record albums in character as Ben Cartwright, scoring a top-10 hit with his dramatic spoken word performance of "Ringo".

The show slowly lost its original format when Pernell Roberts left the series in 1965 for a movie career. The show still drew high viewing figures with just two Cartwright brothers, but it slowly dropped out of the number-one spot that it had held for so long. When the show's creator, David Dortort, named himself executive producer in 1967, handing production duties to Robert Blees and removing himself from the day-to-day running of the show in order to spend more time producing the series The High Chaparral, the show's popularity waned even more. In 1967, David Canary joined the cast as Candy Canaday, a drifting cowboy-turned-ranch foreman; a popular addition to the cast, he left in 1970 due to a contract dispute.

In 1970, 14-year-old Mitch Vogel joined the series as Jamie Hunter, the orphaned son of a rainmaker. Ben adopted Jamie in a 1971 episode, and once again Ben had three sons; this was not to last.

In 1972, after the sudden death of Dan Blocker, the show was moved to Tuesday nights. Both moves signaled the end of the program, and it went off the air quietly early the next year. Canary returned to his former role of Candy (to make up for Blocker's absence), and a new character named Griff King (played by Tim Matheson) was added. Griff was a one-time outlaw who was paroled into Ben's custody and got a job as a ranch hand; several episodes were built around his character, one Matheson never had a chance to fully develop before the show's sudden demise in January 1973.

During the latter years of the series, Michael Landon began writing and directing episodes of Bonanza.

For 14 years the Cartwrights were the premier western family on American television and are still immensely popular on networks such as TV Land and Hallmark.

Following the program's cancellation it was brought back as several made-for-television movies. These include Bonanza: The Movie (1988), Back to Bonanza (1993), Bonanza: The Return (1993), Bonanza: Under Attack (1995), and Bonanza: The Next Generation (1995).

In 2001, there was an attempt to revive the series' ideas with a prequel, Ponderosa, with a pilot directed by Kevin James Dobson and filmed in Australia. Covering the time when the Cartwrights first arrived at the Ponderosa, it lasted 20 episodes.

Bonanza also featured a memorable theme song that is often parodied. Lorne Greene and the cast recorded versions of the song with lyrics. Although the Bonanza theme is one of the best known pieces of made-for-television music, it was not used for the entire run of the series. A new theme song was written in 1970 and replaced the oft-remembered tune that fall.

The program's Nevada set, the Ponderosa Ranch, was for many years developed as an amusement park, which remained a popular attraction for a considerable period after the program's cancellation.

External link

  • Template:Imdb title
  • The dictionary definition of Bonanza ( at ( that was cited above.
  • The Bonanza TV Show ( page at Crazy About TV provides trivia, theme song lyrics, a description, cast information, and an episodes list for the

fr:Bonanza nl:Bonanza


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