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David Dortort obituary

23 September 2010 10:29 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

TV writer-producer who created the westerns Bonanza and The High Chaparral

With the Hollywood western in decline towards the end of the 1950s, fans of the genre were able to find some satisfaction in the growing number of western television series. Among the best of these were Bonanza (1959-73) and The High Chaparral (1967-71), both of which were conceived and produced by David Dortort, who has died aged 93.

Bonanza, the first primetime western in colour, was set on the Ponderosa ranch and focused on the adventures of the all-male Cartwright family – Adam (Pernell Roberts), Hoss (Dan Blocker) and Little Joe (Michael Landon), the sons of the thrice-widowed Ben (Lorne Greene), who was named after Dortort's own insurance salesman father.

The series was unusual for its concentration on a united family, rather than the traditional lone cowboy protagonist. It also contrasted with the increasing violence and blurring of the differences between »

- Ronald Bergan

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