Armando Joseph Catalano, otherwise known as Guy Williams, was known for playing Professor John Robinson, the patriarch of the Robinson family on Lost in Space in 1965. Before that, in 1957, he was known for playing the title role in Disney’s Zorro series. But in between Zorro and Lost in Space, Guy Williams had a short run on everyone’s favorite western series, Bonanza.
Williams played Will Cartwright, Ben Cartwright‘s nephew, in 5 episodes of season 5. His first appearance was in March 1964 in the episode “Return to Honor,” episode 25 in the season. In the episode, Ben goes to Pine City after receiving word that his nephew was killed. In the city, he finds Will alive but suffering from a bullet wound. Turns out, Will stole engraving plates from a nearby gang and wants them to think he’s dead. Ben takes Will back to the Ponderosa to recover. While there, Will takes a liking to the family’s integrity and grit.
His next appearance was in episode 27, “The Roper.” Will takes more of a heroic role here; in this episode, Army soldiers stop in at the Ponderosa with a wounded prisoner while Will is home alone. Eventually, the prisoner’s men found him and ambushed the ranch. Will had to come up with a plan; the ruffians schemed to take Ben’s gold when he returned to the ranch.
Guy Williams’ Role as ‘Bonanza’s’ Will Cartwright
Guy Williams returned for “The Companeros,” episode 29. Here, an old friend, Mateo Ybarra, visits Will at the ranch. Will and Ybarra fought together in Mexico, and Ybarra wants Will to return there with him. Will feels obligated to his old friend, but Ben is suspicious. Turns out, there’s a price on Will’s head in Mexico, and there are those who want to take him back to stand trial.
Williams then didn’t appear for two episodes, showing up again for “The Pressure Game,” episode 32. Laura Dayton’s meddling Aunt Lil comes to the Ponderosa to get Pernell Roberts’ Adam Cartwright to finally propose to her niece. To do this, she uses Adam’s cousin Will to make Adam jealous. Things don’t go as planned, though, when actual sparks fly between Will and Laura.
Then, in episode 33, Will ultimately gets written out of Bonanza and never returns. Everything in the previous episode comes to a head when Adam, Will, and Laura are caught in a love triangle. It turns out, Adam is secretly building a house on the Ponderosa for Laura, which is why he’s so hesitant to set a wedding date; he wants the house done first.
Meanwhile, Will and Laura share a secret romance, eventually falling deeply in love. They plan to tell Adam of their relationship, and come upon him installing beams on the house.
They unwittingly surprise Adam, and he falls from the roof. The fall temporarily lands him in a wheelchair while he recovers. Laura finds out that Will is leaving for San Francisco, a convenient exit for the character; she confesses her love, and Adam hears this.
Instead of being angry at the two, he admits that Will could love Laura better than he ever could. He gives them his blessing, and walks again.