First, let me say that if this show took place today, Ben Cartwright would probably be the subject of an investigation on Dateline. Three wives, all of whom somehow died? In fact, anytime one of the Cartwrights got interested in a gal, she either got sick, died, or took off with some undeserving fella.
The Cartwrights lived on the Ponderosa, a ranch said to cover 1,000 square miles. Really. They made their money by selling timber and livestock, though it seems that occupied less of their time than solving their own and their neighbors’ problems.
The cast of Lorne Greene (Ben), Pernell Roberts (Adam), Dan Blocker (“Hoss”), and Michael Landon (Little Joe) were all together for fewer than half of the show’s 431 episodes. Roberts decided he was disenchanted with series television, and Blocker died following surgery. Even so, Bonanza remained a huge ratings hit throughout its run, spending three years at number one, nine years in the top four, and never finishing out of the top 20. TV Guide ranked Bonanza #43 on its list of the 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.
- 17 Facts You Might Not Know about Bonanza (neatorama.com)