Bonanza ran for 14 crowd-pleasing seasons between the years 1959 and 1973. And even though the western series was set between 1861 and 1867, the show often dealt with contemporary social issues which distinguished it from many of the other shows of its time – especially other westerns. But despite the fact that Bonanza enjoyed enduring popularity for so many years, the show’s cast seemed to be constantly at odds with each other. Keep watching to see why they couldn’t manage to put their differences aside and just learn how to play nice.
Even though we’re going to be focusing primarily on the cast member’s differences and their many conflicts, we’ll also dive into some surprising facts that you may not have known about the iconic series. So strap up and get ready for one wild ride to the land of Ponderosa. Join Facts Verse to know about the reason Why the Bonanza Cast Didn’t Get Along.
Michael Landon Was Notoriously Difficult To Work With
Despite being young and inexperienced at the time, Landon quickly developed a reputation for being difficult on set. It’s not that he wasn’t a hard worker per se and he wasn’t particularly mean-spirited in nature, but he had a distinctly narrow vision for how he thought scenes should look and be acted.
But you can’t really blame the guy for taking pride in his work. Nevertheless, it did get on the nerves of some of the show’s crew members on many occasions. Landon was also not timid when it came to arguing with the network whenever he felt like they were steering the show in the wrong direction.
But in the end, Michael’s stubbornness seemed to pay off quite well for him, as he went on to become one of the driving creative forces behind the show and continued to enjoy a long career in television after the series came to a close.
Hey, we know you’re probably enjoying this video so far and are eager to see what comes next, but take a moment if you will to show us a little support for all that we do by giving it a like and by subscribing to Facts Verse if you haven’t already.
And don’t you dare think about high-tailing your way out of here just yet. Stick around to see why being a female cast member on Bonanza wasn’t exactly your ticket to fame and fortune. Most women on the series only lasted for a few episodes, and the vast majority of those characters died in pretty grisly ways, but we’ll get to that in a bit, so hold your horses.
Lorne Green’s Gloomy First Gig
While it’s true that Lorne Greene’s face and voice eventually became well-loved by audiences everywhere, it wasn’t always that way. His voice used to signify the very antithesis of joy for people listening to the radio during World War II.
You see, Lorne was a reporter and it was his job to be the bearer of bad news quite often. This job earned him the less-than-ideal nickname of ‘The Voice of Doom’ due to his deep booming voice and the nasty news that he often had to deliver.
Fortunately, Lorne’s new acting role as Ben Cartwright was far and removed from his old job in journalism. Of all the things that you might associate with Ben Cartwright, doom is definitively not one of them – well, as long as you weren’t one of his three wives.
Pernell Got Fed Up With The Show
Sometimes it takes a bit for people to get tired of doing a job. This kind of thing happens in the entertainment industry as well believe it or not. Such was the case for Pernell Roberts who portrayed Adam Cartwright on the first six seasons of Bonanza. He had a few choice words to say when he finally left the series. Pernell Roberts said that he felt like he was an aristocrat in his field of endeavor and that being a part of Bonanza was like if Issac Stern sat in with Lawrence Welk – implying that the western was somehow beneath him.
He constantly complained about the show but did very little in the way of trying to fix it. When he left to continue pursuing his career as an actor in theater and other forms of high-brow entertainment, the remaining three Cartwright actors distributed his salary evenly among themselves.
Candy’s Not Warmly Received At First
Bonanza fans not exactly thrilled when Adam Cartwright left the show. In fact, many downright devastated by his departure. It should come as no surprise then that they took a while to warm up to his replacement, Candy Cannady – portrayed by David Canary. Cannady was the Cartwright’s jovial friend and ranch foreman.
Even though he intended to be as close as family to the Cartwright’s as their own blood, seeing him replace Adam was a hard pill for audiences to swallow. But eventually most seemed to get over their initial apprehension and learned to appreciate the show without Adam.
Still, some fans will probably tell you that the show was never the same after his departure even though the series went on longer than the amount of time that he was actually on it.
Hoss Was A Big Baby
Dan Blocker, the actor who played Hoss Cartwright, was a pretty large guy. Apparently, he had always been that way. In fact, he held the record for being the largest newborn baby born in Bowie County, Texas – weighing in at a mind-blowing 14 pounds. That’s actually more than double the average weight of a typical baby. His poor mother! Can you imagine what delivery must have been like?
By the time that Dan was in the first grade, he already weighed more than 100 pounds. Of course, Blocker made good use of his size by joining his high school football team He must have been one frightening figure to see when he came thundering down the football field. Before he joined the Army, he also naturally worked as a bouncer.
Even though he often played the fool on Bonanza, he was always someone you’d want to have by your side if you got into a bind. Blocker, much like Hoss, was tough as nails.
One time while filming a scene, Blocker thrown from his horse and fractured his collarbone. Instead of going to the hospital like any other rational person would have done, Blacker decided to set the break himself and film through the pain until the scene was finished.
He took a few weeks off to recover and put on a noticeable bit of weight in the process. Incidentally, the same horse that threw him off weeks earlier was no longer able to carry him. Irony at its finest. Join Facts Verse to know about the reason Why the Bonanza Cast Didn’t Get Along.
Bonanza Had Some Seriously Stiff Competition
Bonanza wasn’t exactly an immediate success right out of the gate. At the time, primetime drama was ruled by the CBS courtroom drama Perry Mason. NBC almost canceled the western but instead decided to double down. It might have been a risky bet to take but it obviously paid off. But did they keep the show alive because they believed so strongly about it? Not quite.
It likely had more to do with the fact that Bonanza was one of the first color television shows to hit the airwaves. In order to watch a color show, you obviously needed a color TV, right? And guess who happened to sell color TVs back then. RCA, the parent company of NBC had the color TV market virtually cornered. Instead of canceling Bonanza, they shifted it’s time-slot over to Sunday. When they did, its popularity skyrocketed instantaneously.
Bonanza didn’t exactly have a ton of minority characters, but when there minorities, most of the time they were actually portrayed by members of the same ethnic group. This was at the insistence of Pernell Roberts, who felt very strongly that white actors should not play minority characters. Other shows from this time commonly did the exact opposite.
Roberts highly opposed to featuring stereotyped portrayals of minority characters on the show. In fact, it was one of the main reasons why he eventually decided to depart the show. That said, the inclusion of characters such as Hop Sing played by Victor Sen Yung lent some needed authenticity to the show. In all reality, the old American West was a lot more diverse of a place than other shows from that period would have you believe.
Life Was Short And Harsh For The Cartwright Women
Pa Cartwright was already three times a widow before the show even started. Over the course of Bonanza’s run, the women didn’t fare all that much better either. A ton of Cartwright love interests passed through Ponderosa – but none of them stuck around for very long.
The cast began to even joke that there was some kind of Cartwright curse afoot.
Female characters never seemed to last very long. Unfortunately, the women that entered into the Cartwright’s orbit left one of two ways – they either skipped town escaping some kind of horrific incident or they died in some outrageous way. In fact, no women lasted longer than just a few episodes – although we do get a brief glimpse of Pa’s wives during flashbacks every now and then – so there’s that. Even so, if you were a female actor offered a part on the series you pretty much already knew it was going to be a short-lived gig.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
In what eventually became known as the ‘rural purge’, many western shows canceled to revitalize the dominating network’s public image. Network execs began to feel like there were just far too many westerns on TV, Despite their popularity, the shows targeted relatively small demographics and the networks felt that they could capture a wider audience pool with other types of shows.
Shows like Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, Lassie, and Green Acres all met similar fates when the networks decided to strike their axes. Bonanza, the longest-running western series the last to be given the boot. In reality, after the sudden death of Dan Blocker caused by a pulmonary embolism, the show pretty much ran out of steam.
So, here we are once again at the end of another Facts-filled video. Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two going on this little trek with us. Bonanza was a show unlike any other on Television during its day. It might have looked a lot like every other western on the tube, but it offered us substance, laughs, and thrills that no other series was capable of dishing out in such an endearing way. And besides that, the show was fortunate enough to feature an all-star cast that won our hearts and kept us on the edge of our seats.
Anyway, now’s your turn to let your voice be heard. In the comments section below, let us know which western show you enjoyed the most, Bonanza or Wagon Train.
And before you go, take a second to give this video a like and subscribe to our channel if you haven’t already. Tap the bell icon to turn on notifications. That way you can keep up with all of our upcoming videos without missing a beat. We’ll catch you next time for another Facts-tastic video! We’ll see you then.