‘Bonanza’: What Happened to Actor Mitch Vogel Who Went on to Star in ‘Gunsmoke,’ ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and More

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images)

Mitch Vogel was a child star who found himself on “Bonanza” late in the NBC western series’ run. What happened to him, though?

The short answer is Vogel left show business. Yet there’s a longer answer for the “Bonanza” actor, who played Jamie Hunter-Cartwright. Vogel moved from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh in the 1970s, seeing his career wind down. He got married and found himself in a rock-and-roll band.

Eventually, Vogel would return to Southern California where he currently lives with his family. Vogel is deeply involved in church life and music.

‘Bonanza’ Star Also Appeared in Other TV Series, Movie as Child Actor

He was born in Alhambra, Calif., on Jan. 17, 1956. Vogel is 65 years old.

Besides “Bonanza,” Vogel also made guest-starring appearances on “Gunsmoke,” “Little House on the Prairie,” and as part of a popular late 1960s movie “Yours, Mine and Ours.” In that movie, Vogel starred opposite a couple of actors you might have heard of before: Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda.

It was during his time on “Bonanza” that Vogel actually helped fill two spots in the show’s lineup. Series regular David Canary left, but the bigger blow to the show was when Dan Blocker died. Blocker, forever loved as “Hoss” Cartwright, died from complications of gall-bladder surgery on May 13, 1972, at 43 years old.

Vogel’s character was an orphan taken in by the Cartwrights, led by patriarch Ben Cartwright, played by Lorne Greene. He first appeared in the Jamie role in 1970 and would be a part of “Bonanza” until the series ended on Jan. 16, 1973.

Late Actor Steve McQueen Played a Part in Getting Vogel Role on TV Series

When Steve McQueen, who was one of the movie world’s biggest stars, happened to see Vogel in “Yours, Mine and Ours,” he kept the kid in mind.

Why? Because he was going to be in a movie called “The Reivers” and needed someone like the “Bonanza” star for the cast.

“The Reivers” was a 1969 film adapted from a book by famed author William Faulkner. Vogel appeared in the Ball-Fonda film in 1968, giving McQueen a chance to see the kid work.

Well, McQueen played a role in getting Vogel to tackle portraying Lucius Priest. He’s an 11-year-old-boy who hits the road with the family farm’s handyman, played by McQueen, for a road trip.

The movie role caught the attention of “Bonanza” creator and executive producer David Dortort, who reached out to Vogel. He eventually found himself as part of the Ponderosa crew.