‘Bonanza’: How Did ‘Candy Canaday’ Actor David Canary Die?

by Anna Dunn

It’s been a long while since Bonanza was on TV. Sadly, many of the actors on the show have since passed away. This includes Candy Canaday actor David Canary.

Canary passed away in 2015 at 77 years old. While he died from natural causes, he had also been diagnosed a few years before with Alzheimer’s disease.

Before his acting career, Canary was a football player and military man. He studied at the University of Cincinnati. He could have gone pro with his football career, but instead decided to go to New York to pursue acting.

David Canary also starred in the soap opera All My Children as Adam Chandler. For that role Canary won five Daytime Emmy Awards and received sixteen nominations.

Canary adored his time on Bonanza, except for all the time they had to spend filming in the heat. Bonanza, which ran for 14 years and had 431 total episodes, was one of the most popular westerns ever. In 2013, TV Guide ranked it in its list of 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time.

The show, set in the 1860s, focuses on the Cartwright family. Candy Canaday was the Cartwright family’s ranch foreman and trusted confidant.

Apparently, Bonanza creator David Dortort had some reservations of casting Canary as Candy. He was worried Canary, who was very kind, wouldn’t come off tough and snarly enough on camera. Thankfully, Canary sorted that out straight away, practically scaring Dortort in the audition room.

Even when it was time to show a more vulnerable and complicated side of Candy Canaday, Canary thrived. For him, Bonanza gave him a chance to really act. That’s what mattered most to him.

Canary had a Favorite ‘Bonanza’ Episode

In a 2004 interview with the Television Academy, David Canary said his favorite episode of Bonanza was The Well.

“Basically, the plot, somebody had dug a well and, how did we get in there? Somehow Lorne Greene and I went … there was a ladder going into this new well,” Canary recalled during the interview. Essentially, Canady and “Pa” Cartwright got tricked and wound up stuck down a well together.

“Maybe there were rocks or something that the guy was having trouble with. And, we didn’t know he was a bad guy, but we did find out when he pulled the ladder up,” Canary continued. “We were stranded in there. And, we were stranded in there for quite a while – meaning days.”

Canary and the rest of the Bonanza cast provided entertainment to millions for many decades. Bonanza is still one of the most infamous westerns in history. It’s NBC’s longest-running TV western and the second longest-running TV western ever, only coming behind Gunsmoke.

The show still airs in syndication, so you can really catch re-runs at any time and see for yourself exactly why the show is such an important part of TV history.