The Wild West adventures of Ben Cartwright and his sons as they run and defend their Nevada ranch while helping the surrounding community.


David Dortort
738 ( 103)




14   13   12   11   10   9   8   7   6   … See all »
1973   1972   1971   1970   1969   1968   … See all »
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 9 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »





Complete series cast summary:
Lorne Greene ...  Ben Cartwright / ... 430 episodes, 1959-1973
Michael Landon ...  Joseph 'Little Joe' Cartwright / ... 430 episodes, 1959-1973
Dan Blocker ...  Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright / ... 415 episodes, 1959-1972
Pernell Roberts ...  Adam Cartwright 202 episodes, 1959-1965
Bill Clark ...  Townsman / ... 19 episodes, 1959-1973
Victor Sen Yung ...  Hop Sing 104 episodes, 1959-1973
Ray Teal ...  Sheriff Roy Coffee 99 episodes, 1960-1972


The Cartwrights' one-thousand-square-mile Ponderosa Ranch is located near Virginia City, Nevada, site of the Comstock Silver Lode, during and after the Civil War. Each of the three sons was born to a different wife of Ben's; none of the mothers are still alive. Adventures are typical Western ones, with lots of personal relationships/problems thrown in as well. Written by edited by Rob

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Did You Know?


In a Television Archives interview, Ray Evans and Jay Livingston said that when Desi Arnaz asked them to write a theme song for a Western television show, Arnaz told them he couldn't pay them much for a weekly salary, because the show was only going to last one year. The men made a deal with Arnaz to keep the rights to the song. When this show became an unexpected smash-hit, the men made millions. See more »


During the first season opening credits, the Cartwrights can be seen galloping on horses on a dirt road that contains an unmistakable set of tire tracks from the truck carrying the camera in front of them. See more »


Adam Cartwright: Let's go back to the Ponderosa, Pa. This isn't any of our affair.
Ben Cartwright: We can't ignore the rest of the world. We're the only stabilizing influence in the country.
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Crazy Credits

The opening and closing credits show a picture on the screen that corresponds with whatever credit is being given ("Music by" is accompanied by a man playing a violin, "Written by" has a Mark Twain-inspired writer type holding a book with "Bonanza" written on its cover, etc.) See more »

Alternate Versions

Many television broadcasts and DVDs of public domain episodes currently in circulation replace the famous title theme music with generic music. Only official videos and DVDs from Artisan/Republic are uncut and contain the music as intended. See more »


Referenced in All About Me (2018) See more »

User Reviews

I miss this kind of show today
19 January 2009 | by wlbSee all my reviews

Although this show has been off the air since 1973, after viewing a DVD set I borrowed at our library, I felt compelled to say a bit about it.

I can remember when it was the only color show on television in the 1960s, and sometimes there would be a little "Sunday Night Party" with friends to watch this on NBC on one of the few color televisions.

I really enjoy history not so much for the names and dates but how it influences us today and how so much can be so profound based on the most inconsequential actions of the time. Case in point: Virginia City, Nevada, which became one of the richest cities in the world because of the silver, got its name from a character named "Old Virginny", who, in the town's early days, stumbled out of a saloon, fell and broke his whiskey bottle.

Old Virginny didn't want to waste the occasion so as the precious liquid was seeping into the dirt he decided to christen the town "Virginia Town". The area became known as the Comstock Lode because another character, Henry Comstock, had the reputation of trying to jump everyone's claim and the area became known as the Comstock Lode.

I just watched an early episode that dealt with these 2 subjects. Other episodes dealt with Mark Twain's literary rise while a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise...

It was wholesome (and frequently educational) family entertainment. As someone else remarked, each episode would really be considered a movie in its own right - rich scripts and characters.

One thing it twisted the truth on was the proximity to Virginia City and the Ponderosa. In truth, to ride from the Ponderosa (all of Northern Lake Tahoe), one would have to ride his horse about 3,000 feet (1,000 meters) down the Spooner Summit to the high desert (3,000-4,000 feet) of the Carson Valley then another 30-40 miles to Virginia city.

Needless to say the Cartwrights would have some sore rear ends doing this on a regular basis. But every writer should have some leeway with the truth.

How I miss that show, even today.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

12 September 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ponderosa See more »


Box Office


$105,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(430 episodes)


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