HomeEntertainmentOn This Day: Beloved Western ‘Bonanza’ First Aired in 1959

On This Day: Beloved Western ‘Bonanza’ First Aired in 1959

by John Jamison
(Original Caption) Stars of the television series, Bonanza, are shown as Mike Landon, (L), who plays "Little Joe," Lorne Greene, in his role as Pa Cartwright, and Dan Blocker who stars as Hoss Cartwright.

For all we know, without “Bonanza,” there’d be no “Yellowstone” today. It’s a bold claim, granted. But the classic show was one of the most influential television Westerns of all time. Airing from 1959 to 1973, the series remains the second-longest tenured Western in TV history. On September 12, 1959, “Bonanza” made its debut with the episode “A Rose for Lotta.”

The Cartwrights were, at one time, the most recognizable family in America. The all-star cast consisted of Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker, Michael Landon, and Pernell Roberts. And to think, during that first season, the guest stars on the show got paid more than the Cartwright actors.

According to IMDb, the “Bonanza” producers didn’t feel that the series regulars, including the Cartwrights, were recognizable enough to carry the show. Well, all of that turned around after the first two seasons. In 1961, the show rocketed to the highest-rated scripted show on television and never looked back. For the next 10 years, it held a spot in the top-five shows in terms of Nielsen rating.

“Bonanza” remains a fan favorite to this day. While the show doesn’t have as much material in its archive as “Gunsmoke,” it still airs regularly around the world. And if Hoss Cartwright actor Dan Blocker hadn’t passed away tragically, the show might have gone on to make even more of a mark. Not that it needed to. The show ran its course and came to its natural end.

The Actual Connection Between ‘Bonanza’ and ‘Yellowstone’

“Bonanza” and “Yellowstone” fans alike may be surprised to learn that one of Little Joe Cartwright actor Michael Landon’s daughters has found a home on the modern hit Western.

Everything has truly come full circle for Jen Landon. Unfortunately, her father is no longer around to see what she’s accomplishing. But the Teeter actor has found a home on what one could argue is the “Bonanza” of the contemporary Western genre. There may be better parallels out there. Though, considering the sheer success the shows have found in the genre, it works for us.

However you look at it, the fact that a Landon is killing it on a TV Western can only be an awesome thing. And it certainly looks like she’s on “Yellowstone” to stay. In fact, the moment sticking around became a reality was a major milestone for the actor.

“My big thing when I came on the show and my dream was I just wanted to get branded, that’s all I wanted, was to get branded. And so episode nine, I’m reading the script I see that I get branded. And I literally burst into tears like full miss universe ugly cry, it was this huge moment,” Landon said in an interview with Paramount Network.