Five Things You Probably Didn't Know About "Bonanza"

The final episode of Bonanza was broadcast on Tuesday, January 16th, 1973. Bonanza, which ran for more than a decade, was one of the best-known television shows of its time and amassed a huge cult-like following. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about Bonanza.

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The TV Show Inspired A Restaurant Chain Dan Blocker, who played Eric "Hoss" Cartwright on the show, opened a chain of restaurants named—you guessed it— Bonanza. The first Bonanza opened in Westport, Connecticut.  After he sold the chain, the name changed to Ponderosa, and, like a wagon train, the restaurant just kept on going forward. 

A Theme Park Was Created Because of The Show The fictional ranch, Ponderosa, was shown on a map during the show’s credits, and drew fans to the site hoping to catch a glimpse of the Cartwright homestead. Bill and Joyce Anderson, who lived near the supposed site, teamed up with NBC and David Dortort, a co-creator of the show, to create the Ponderosa Ranch theme park in 1968. It featured a full replica of the ranch house where the Cartwrights lived, sold “Hoss” burgers, and staged robberies as entertainment. The park closed in 2004.

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Producing a Show in Color Was Expensive Bonanza almost got cancelled early on because of its larger budget.  This is because it was the first show shot and broadcast in color, and RCA (which owned NBC at the time) used the show to drive interest in color televisions. A move from a Saturday time-slot to a Sunday spot allowed the series to flourish.

They Have A Christmas Album The holiday season may have just passed, but remember to put this on your playlist for next year. In 1964, the four Cartwright cast members came together to release Christmas at Ponderosa. The festive album features Christmas staples like "Deck the Halls" and "Jingle Bells."

The Bonanza Theme Song Had Lyrics You wouldn’t know if from the opening credits, but the theme song did have lyrics. In fact, it had multiple sets of lyrics, one even penned by series star Lorne Greene. Johnny Cash wrote and recorded his own version of the lyrics and released it as a single called "Bonanza". The song briefly touched the Pop chart at #94 before dropping off.  A sequence was actually filmed for the pilot episode that had the cast singing the song, but it didn't make the final cut.