6 Things You Didn't Know About Bonanza

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 4:00pm
Toni Pepper
6 Things You Didn't Know About Bonanza

RIDE TV proudly presents a special airing of Bonanza as part of the new RIDE TV Classics series. Running from 1959 to 1973, this western television show caught the eyes of many viewers, allowing it to run for 14 seasons with 431 episodes total. The show follows the Cartwright family, fathered by Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene)and their interactions at the Ponderosa Ranch by Virginia City, Nevada. Ben Cartwright had three sons, Adam (Pernell Roberts, “Hoss” (Dan Blocker), and Joseph (Michael Landon), each with a different wife, so the show encompasses their interactions as a family on the ranch. This series did not fit the typical western criteria, focusing less on the ranch life and more on family life.

"You always saw stories about family on comedies or on an anthology, but Bonanza was the first series that was week-to-week about a family and the troubles it went through. Bonanza was a period drama that attempted to confront contemporary social issues."

- Stephen Battaglio, a senior editor for TV Guide magazine

This show definitely has a place in TV history. Therefore, since RIDE TV will be airing these episodes on Saturdays at 3/2c, I thought it would be a fun idea to let you all know some fun facts about the show!

The series was almost canceled!

During this time, Bonanza was competing against another western series called Perry Mason, but since it was one of the first to be broadcasted in color, NBC decided to keep it running. After a time slot change, Bonanza actually increased in its ratings, allowing it to become the No. 1 show for 4 years.

They wore the same outfits for a reason!

If you watch the show, after a few episodes you realize that they wear the same outfits all the time. You might think that these men do not have good hygiene, but in fact it was to make restocking easier for each episode. Plus, when there were action sequences, their standard outfits made it extremely easy for them to match the stunt doubles.

Defying the TV-Father Stereotype

During this time, most TV fathers were usually considered to be incompetent and usually were bossed around by their wives. However, David Dortort, the producer, wanted to change this depiction with Ben Cartwright. He created this character in a way that broke this mold, making his a respectable character that was lovable as well.

The show inspired a restaurant chain

Ponderosa/Bonanza Steakhouses were inspired by the show. In fact, they were also founded by one of the cast members all well, Dan Blocker, who played “Hoss.” The first one opened up in Kokomo, Indiana in 1965 and since has expanded internationally into Canada. Try to stop in one!

Big Baby Blocker

Another interesting fact about Dan Blocker was that he was one of the largest babies born in Bowie County, Texas weighing in at 14 pounds on the day of his birth! This led him to weight about 105 pounds in his later years....as a first grader!

Greatness comes at a price!

As mentioned before, having the cast wear the same outfits did in fact save the show money, but it actually cost the network about $100,000 to $150,000 per episode to produce the show as a whole. However, since it was one of the best performing TV shows and was produced in color, the costs were justifiable.

As you can see, Bonanza is really such and incredible classic. Make sure to tune in on Saturdays at 3/2C to catch your favorite western!





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