‘Bonanza’ Featured ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ Star Ted Knight in Two Different Episodes

by Joe Rutland

Watching classic TV shows like “Bonanza” can lead viewers to get glimpses of their favorite stars. One such star appears twice.

Ted Knight, who would go on to fame and fortune as newscaster Ted Baxter on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” guest stars in two “Bonanza” episodes back in the 1960s.

In “Elizabeth, My Love,” from the show’s second season in 1961, Knight plays Halloran. This episode, though, revolves around Ben Cartwright, played by Lorne Greene, sitting next to his son Adam, played by Pernell Roberts, who is quite ill.

Sitting there, Ben starts reminiscing about life and his time with Elizabeth Stoddard, Adam’s mother, aboard a sailing ship. “Bonanza” is a show where Ben is the patriarch of the Cartwright family and shows up as a widower, so he’s simply looking back upon happier times.

‘Bonanza’ Episode Features Knight As Troubled Mayor

Now in “Peace Officer,” which airs during the show’s seventh season in 1966, Knight portrays Mayor Amos Garrett. There’s trouble brewing when a deputy gets killed in a bar fight. Garrett calls for peace officer Wes Dunn to come into town and temporarily fill the absent sheriff’s seat. His orders are to track down the gang that killed the deputy. But Garrett’s trust gets hurt as Dunn becomes ruthless in the ways he works to catch the young mob.

After “Bonanza” and other shows, Knight becomes known to a larger audience as bumbling Ted Baxter, full of bravado and light on execution. He was a part of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” cast from 1970-77. It was a role that Knight earned six Emmy Award nominations for and winning twice in 1973 and 1976.

Besides his TV work, Knight also did a lot of voiceover work for cartoon shows. Those included “The Batman/Superman Hour,” “Fantastic Voyage,” “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” and “Super Friends.”

Obviously, movie fans remember him well from his role as Judge Smails in “Caddyshack.”

Knight Eventually Would Become Own Star After Many Guest Shots

But Knight, who also found TV success on another series called “Too Close For Comfort,” died on Aug. 26, 1986, at 62 years old from colon cancer.

His work on “Bonanza” would eventually lead him to play one of television’s most remembered characters in the medium’s history.

When “Bonanza” left NBC in January 1973, the show was dropping in numbers because it was missing one of its favorite characters. Dan Blocker, who played “Hoss” Cartwright, died in 1972 after complications from gall-bladder surgery. The show tried to keep on going with other actors like Tim Matheson and Mitch Vogel to take up that space.

It just didn’t go over well with the show’s viewers. They wanted “Hoss” but he wasn’t coming back at all. The longtime NBC western staple would leave after 14 seasons. “Bonanza” is television’s second-longest-running western in TV history.