8 Fun Facts About the 60’s Show Bonanza You Never Suspected
The hit Western series “Bonanza” captured the imaginations of millions of young Americans in the 1960’s. The show gave audiences a respite from the social upheaval and Cold War that were the talk of the day, providing a dreamy outlook on rural America.
Check out these 8 facts about Bonanza that you never suspected!
The Chinese Cook Was a Passenger on a Hijacked Plane
In 1972, Victor Sen Yung, who played a Chinese chef (basically himself) in the series, happened to be a passenger on Pacific Southwest Flight 710, when armed men tried to take over the plane. The hijacking attempt was thwarted by the FBI and the assailants killed along with one of the passengers. Sen Yung was accidentally shot and injured during the scuffle.
Dan Blocker was a BIG Baby
Dan Blocker, one of the Cartwright family sons, was the heaviest baby born in his county. He was so big, they asked him to play the role of an extremely powerfully-built man in a college movie production. That’s how his Hollywood career was launched. Blocker died between the show’s 13th and 14th seasons and his role never quite got filled.
Pernell Roberts was a Civil Rights Activist “Lost at Sea”
Roberts, a lifelong social justice activist who participated in the civil rights movement, couldn’t stand the show, which he considered demeaning to women and below his standards. He even tried to get the station to have his character marry a Native American girl and stop casting white actors for minority characters. When Roberts left the show prematurely, later episodes provided explanations ranging from his being “lost at sea” to having moved to Europe for the early exit.
“Pa” Lorne Greene Began His Career as “The Voice of Doom”
The character of Ben “Pa” Cartwright was born to Russian Jewish immigrants Dora and Daniel Green. He served in WWII as a member of the Canadian Air Force and was given a role on CBC National News, a Canadian wartime radio station where he earned the nickname “Voice of Doom” for reading off the names of servicemen killed in the line of duty.
Joe Cartwright Saved His Mom from Suicide
Michael Landon, who played “Little Joe Cartwright” was born Eugene Maurice Orowitz. His early years were characterized by his mother’s constant suicide attempts. She once tried to drown herself and he had to come to her rescue. As a result of the constant tension, he developed bedwetting problems. His mom would display his wet sheets outside as a way of “disciplining” her child. Landon found the name he’d end up using as his nom de plume while browsing a phone book.
Mark Twain Lived There
Samuel Clemens (better known by his pseudonym Mark Twain) the best-selling fiction writer and author of classics such as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Fin, and less-known 20th century author William Wright both tried their hands at mining at Virginia City.
They Were Multi-Talented
The four central members of the cast got together to star in a Christmas single that features holiday favorites like Jingle Bells.
The “Bonanza” Really Happened!
It was named after the mining bonanzas that took place in Virginia City following the discovery of a silver ore in Virginia City in 1859. The discovery, known as the “Comstock Lode” netted a whopping profit of $55,000,000 (which translates into the billions of dollars by today’s standards)!