Along with “The Cisco Kid”, “Bonanza” was among the first Western television programs that was fully produced in color. Because it was one of the first to be produced in color, it was also one of the most expensive shows during this time.
After its first season, which was quite underwhelming, it was going to be canceled. However, they had spent so much money on this new color television show that they just had to keep going. Additionally, RCA wanted to really push the new color television, so they had to have the color shows stay on the air. And thankfully so. Could you imagine the world without “Bonanza”?
Guest Stars Were Better Paid Than The Show’s Regular Cast
When “Bonanza” first premiered, the producers were not sure how the show was going to do. They did not know if people would like the show since the main cast members were not very well known actors. Essentially, they were unknowns.
Because of this, the production team continued to bring big stars onto the show for guest starring roles. They were hoping this would get more people to watch the show. The producers, of course, paid the stars more than the leads, even though they were only small parts. By season 2, however, ratings were high and the lead actors of “Bonanza” had become stars themselves!
There Were Lyrics In The Theme Song
Did you know that the theme song for “Bonanza” actually had lyrics? Most people only know the instrumental version of the song, but it definitely had lyrics. The theme song was written by songwriters Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.
Video was found of the cast members singing the lyrics. In fact, Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker, and Michael Landon sang the theme song lyrics which they were using for the pilot episode, but unfortunately, it did not air, and they went with the instrumental version. Everybody loved this song! The world-famous singer Johnny Cash also recorded a version of the theme song to Bonanza!
A Long And Successful Run
“Bonanza” ran for an amazing 14 seasons. They filmed over 400 episodes. There was only one other Western television show that would run longer than “Bonanza”. That show was “Gunsmoke”. “Gunsmoke” was on television for a whopping 20 seasons. Gunsmoke comes in second on the list for longest running scripted TV shows. At 20 seasons, it is tied with “Law and Order”, and only surpassed by “The Simpsons”.
Both of these shows are still popular today. They were not just passing fads. Both of these timeless television programs continue to run in syndication all over the world, even today.
The Cartwrights Welcomed Visitors
Throughout season one, the writers portrayed the Cartwright family as hostile to visitors. During Lorne Greene’s character development, he came to a realization that the Cartwright family was very important to the community. The business they had meant that they had to be more personable. Because of this, they could not be hostile to people that came on their land.
He realized that people were going to visit their land, conduct business, and become a place where people would convene. Because of this realization, the writer altered the characters. They made them more approachable and hospitable to the people of the town.