‘Bonanza’: What Happened to Sheriff Coffee Actor Ray Teal After Show?

by Joe Rutland
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Fans of Bonanza remember seeing Ray Teal, who played Sheriff Roy Coffee, on the show. What happened to him after the show ended?

Let’s take a look, Outsiders. Teal made his first appearance on the NBC western in 1960 and stayed a part of the show until 1972. Teal appeared in 98 episodes.

Sadly, Teal did not appear in any other TV or film roles after his time on Bonanza ended. He died on April 2, 1976, at 74 years old of undisclosed causes.

The interesting thing about playing a sheriff on Bonanza is that he played that role numerous times in his career.

Among Teal’s movie credits include Judgment at Nuremberg, The Desperate Hours, Inherit the Wind, The Absent-Minded Professor, Joan of Arc, and Chisum.

Besides Bonanza, Teal appeared on other TV series like Maverick, Cheyenne, Perry Mason, Bat Masterson, and Riverboat.

Still, Bonanza fans that watch those reruns all the time will see Teal on their screens a lot.

‘Bonanza’ Series Was Meant To Be Old West Representation Of Story

Could you imagine Bonanza having any connection with King Arthur and his court?

Well, this was part of the imaginative mind of show creator David Dortort. His vision of the classic NBC western included a Western retelling of the age-old story The Legend of King Arthur. The way Dortort saw it, Ben Cartwright, played by Lorne Greene, would be a King Arthur-type. His court would be made up of his sons as a reflection of that part of the story.

But Bonanza began moving away from a “direct retelling” format.

Don’t believe, Outsiders, that Dortort simply gave up that imagery.

No. In the show’s Season 6, there was an episode titled “A Night to Remember.” It would bring the creator’s love for Arthurian legend right to the TV screen.

Show Creator Sees His Dream Come True In Season 6 Episode

This episode features a couple of stagecoach robberies happening. This goes on while Adam Cartwright, played by Pernell Roberts, is traveling. “King Arthur” comes to the rescue in both events to scare those bad guys away.

But Adam finds himself accused of robbery. Why? No one believes him and those “King Arthur” stories.

Well, Adam does get a bit of a break. Actor Henry Jones plays King Arthur in the episode. He is really playing Uncle Leo. OK, so this dude is no uncle and he sure isn’t King Arthur.

What is his action? The dude is a drifter who has a suit of “antique store” armor.

So, his niece comes to fetch Uncle Leo. That’s it, he’s gone.

Dortort was very involved in the formation of the Bonanza cast. He obviously wanted actors who would be true to his vision on board.

Outsider.com