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  • 1510
  • Date :
  • 9/14/2004


12 September 1959

Bonanza was an American western/cowboy television program starring Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Dan Blocker, Pernell Roberts, and Victor Sen Yung.

It was unique in that it was the first regularly broadcast television program to be taped in color.

It aired 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.

Ponderosa is an alternative title of the series, often used for the broadcast of syndicated reruns.

The show chronicled the weekly adventures of the Cartwright family, headed by patriarch Ben Cartwright (Greene). He had three sons: 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 ranch called "The Ponderosa", on the shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada; the name possibly refers to the Ponderosa Pine, common in the West. Frequently, the Cartwrights would travel to the nearest town, Virginia City, and converse with townspeople, such as Sheriff Roy Coffee.

The show slowly lost its core when Pernell Roberts left the series in 1965 for a movie career. The show was still highly-rated with just two Cartwright brothers, but the show slowly dropped out of the #1 spot that it held for so long. 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.

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)

Bonanza also featured a memorable theme song that is often parodied.


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