From 1959 to 1973, audiences nationwide were introduced and fell in love with the cast of Bonanza. The show chronicled the lives and adventures of the Cartwright family, led by patriarch, Ben Cartwright, as he and his sons worked their Ponderosa Ranch near Virginia City, Nevada, where defended it from numerous adversaries, and helped the townsfolk all around them. With 431 total episodes, Bonaza is NBC’s longest-running Western series. You likely have your favorite member of the Cartwright clan, from Ben, “Little Joe,” or Hoss.
So where are they now? We’ll bring you back and reveal some interesting facts about the series that you likely have never heard before.
Restaurants Ponderosa/Bonanza Steakhouses were actually inspired by the show and started by Bonanza cast member Dan Blocker. He founded the first American Bonanza Steakhouse in Kokomo, Indiana in 1965. The chain expanded to Canada in 1971. The restaurants are owned by the Metromedia Restaurant Group.
In a case of art imitating life, Victor Sen Yung, the actor who played the Cartwright family’s chef Hop Sing, was actually an accomplished chef in real life. After the show ended, Yung supported himself by appearing on cooking shows and authoring The Great Wok Cookbook in 1974.
When Dortort started to think about the show and how it would be put together, he pictured it as an Old West presentation of the legend of King Arthur. In his vision for the show, Ben Cartwright was King Arthur and his sons were his knights. In many ways that premise came true as Ben led and guided his children through life.
Dan Blocker played the character of Eric “Hoss” Cartwright, the middle son. His character was gullible, sweet, and a little dimwitted, which was quite the opposite of Dan Blocker in real life. Before he entered the acting industry, he had received a Master’s degree and worked as a teacher. Sad to say, he died in 1972 at the age of 43, 19 days before the production of the 1972-73 season was scheduled to start.
Weighing in at 14 pounds at birth, Dan Blocker was, at the time, the largest baby ever born in Bowie County, Texas. In his first grade, Blocker already weighed a whopping 105 pounds.