‘Bonanza’: Behind the Scenes Photo Tour Featuring Dan Blocker, Michael Landon on the Classic TV Show’s Set

by Quentin Blount

The popular Western television series, Bonanza, lives on in our hearts still to this day. As a result, we are diving into a behind-the-scenes photo tour from some of the cast’s time on set.

If you’re a fan of classic television or of the Western genre, then you without a doubt remember the hit show Bonanza. The series ran on NBC from September of 1959 to January of 1973. During that span, the show put together 14 seasons and 431 episodes, making it NBC’s longest-running western ever. And overall, the show ranked second as the longest-running western on all of TV. It was just behind CBS’s hit show, Gunsmoke.

Bonanza, however, is set in the 1860s. It is focused on the adventures of the Cartwright family living in Virginia City, Nevada. At the head of the family is the three-time widowed patriarch, Ben Cartwright. He is played by Lorne Greene. And he had three sons, each by a different wife — the oldest is Adam Cartwright (Pernell Roberts), in the middle is the gentle giant Eric “Hoss” Cartwright (Dan Blocker), and the youngest of the three is Joseph “Little Joe” (Michael Landon).

First Stop on the Photo Tour

And that brings us to the first behind-the-scenes photo on our tour.

Below we see three of the Bonanza stars, Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, and Dan Blocker shooting a scene from Season 2 Episode 3, “Badge Without Honor.” Landon and Blocker look over Greene’s shoulder as he is showing them something in a book. The three gentlemen are all smiles in the photo. It seems pretty clear they had a great time working with each other on set.

Bonanza — “Badge Without Honor” Episode 2 — Pictured: (l-r) Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright, Michael Landon as Joseph ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright, and Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright — Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

In “Badge Without Honor,” a U.S. deputy marshal saves Adam’s life by shooting two men who were trying to kill him. The marshal soon reveals that he is in town to bring a close friend of the Cartwrights to Sacramento to testify in a statewide racketeering trial.

Continuing Our ‘Bonanza’ Photo Tour

Next up is a photo from Season 2 Episode 15, “The Blood Line.”

It’s a pretty cool sight to see Lorne Greene and Dan Blocker dressed in character and on horseback. In the background, we can see scaffolding and cameras as the two stars look ready to shoot their next scene.

Bonanza — “The Blood Line” Episode 15 — Pictured: (l-r) Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright, Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright — Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

In “The Blood Line,” 16-year-old Todd Grayson arrives in town from Boston. He finds out that his father has been killed by Ben Cartwright. And, of course, Cartwright shot Luke Grayson in self-defense. However, Todd refuses to listen. He only has revenge on his mind.

And last but not least, we have a stop from Season 2 Episode 32 titled, “The Dream Riders.” Here we are taking a look as Dan Blocker and Michael Landon are speaking with a crew member prior to shooting one of the scenes. As you can see below, they are completely dressed in character once again while seemingly looking over their script.

This behind-the-scenes photo comes from Season 2 Episode 32, “The Dream Riders.”

BONANZA — “The Dream Riders” Episode 32 — Pictured: (l-r) Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright, Crew Member, Michael Landon as Joseph ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright — Photo by: Herb Ball/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

In the episode, Hoss gets distracted by a hot air balloon. Meanwhile, a family friend robs the Virginia City bank.

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