Tag Archives: Bonanza

The Movie That Launched a Thousand Television Careers

2 Jul

Last week, my family was traveling, and I spent a lot of time watching movies with my dad. I write that because I have been working on a post about those movies. However, another movie has interrupted the process.

This afternoon, I visited my parents, and my dad was watching a Western that I had never seen. There was a scene with a man and woman talking in a restaurant. The woman looked familiar, and I asked my dad to hit the Info button.

The movie was The Hangman, which was released in 1959, and the cast listing confirmed my suspicions. The woman was Tina Louise, who, in a few years, would gain fame as Ginger on Gilligan’s Island.

It is always cool to find familiar faces in old movies. It is almost like telling someone’s fortune. Do you know that you will soon become famous for being stranded on an island after a three-hour boat tour gone wrong?

Then, the waitress walked up, and she looked familiar. Yep, it was Betty Lynn, who, in a few years, would gain fame as Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show.

At this point, soon to be famous television actors were popping up everywhere. Jack Lord was in jail. In a few years, he would gain fame as Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-O.

Fess Parker was the sheriff. At this time, he was once and future famous. In the 1950s, he helped start the coonskin cap craze as Davy Crockett. After this movie, he would attempt to relive the magic as Daniel Boone.

Then, there was Lorne Greene who played the marshal. The same year that The Hangman was released a new television show called Bonanza debuted. In a short time, he would be known throughout as Ben Cartwright, the patriarch who owned the Ponderosa.

As the title of the post says, The Hangman is the movie that launched a thousand television careers. Well, maybe not a thousand, but it came close.

Blue Chair Bonanza

31 Oct

For a long time, a set of blue chairs has been sitting outside of my office. They look a little worse for ware, but they have become a fixture in this part of the building. They have become a gathering place for students waiting for class; for faculty looking for a place to meet outside of their offices; for History majors to sit around and complain about the books that we assign to them. In fact, the History Department, both students and faculty, have come to think that the chairs are our territory.image-17

One semester, we returned to school to find the blue chairs missing. I sent our students on a mission to find them and return them to their rightful place. How dare someone attempt to redecorate without consulting us. It too a few days, but the chairs found their way back.

Since the chairs are outside of my office, I get the full effect. As students filter through, they have all spent time in the chairs. They have gone on to different paths, but they all have one thing in common. The blue chairs. Our current students sit in the chairs and talk about all kinds of things, and they do not realize that there have been generations of students before them who have sat in those same chairs and talked about the same things.

From my office, I have heard enough information to fill volumes. Relationships. Parties. What happened last night. Complaints about teachers. Complaints about me. The list goes on and on. However, I recently heard a conversation that shocked me. I sat stunned as the conversation progressed. Are they really talking about that? Did I hear what I thought I heard? I stopped what I was doing to make sure my ears were not playing tricks on me.

I have heard things from the blue chairs that would make your ears bleed, but, until this week, I was never this surprised.

Our students were talking about Bonanza. Yep, they were talking about Ben, Little Joe and Hoss. Heck, they were even talking about Adam, who left the show in its early days. They had the entire Cartwright gang pegged. On top of that, it was not that they had heard the name of the show and the characters in some far off conversation with their grandparents. They knew that each son had a different mother. They also thought Little Joe was cute.

As a person who specializes in the history of the American West and a mental collector of trivial popular culture, I could not have been prouder. Our students are going into the world with the knowledge that they need. I know that people worry about the time when the younger generation will take over. There is no need to worry. The world is in good hands, and the Cartwright’s will live on for another generation.

Those Oldies But Baddies

25 Sep

I picked up another magazine. This one was put out by the good people at Globe and is called Shocking Secrets of America’s Favorite TV Shows of the 50s and 60s. Short title. I figured it would be filled with juicy tidbits about the television stars of yesteryear, but it was actually filled with stuff that I already knew. For example, Andy Griffith was difficult to work with. As an ardent fan of his show, I knew that. Heck, he even wore a cast in a few episodes after he put his fist through a wall.

I found out that one actor on Gunsmoke walked with a fake limp while another one had to hide a real limp. Of course, everyone knows that Dennis Weaver was faking it as Chester, but I had no idea that James Arness couldn’t walk that well.

I also found out that three of the Cartwright’s wore hair pieces, and the other one wore stacked shoes. Bonanza will never be viewed the same.

Anyway, I thought that I would share some other “secrets” of the oldies. I’ll narrow it down to the shows that I have seen more than once.

The Honeymooners – A lot of drinking went on. Hey, it was Jackie Gleason. He liked a good time.

You Bet Your Life – Here’s a shocker. Groucho Marx liked women as well as the Secret Word.

I Love Lucy – Fred and Ethel hated each other.

The Munsters – In real life, Herman Munster went to Harvard.

The Addams Family – Uncle Fester was married to Betty Grable. Think about that for a second. This guy…Uncle Fester

was married to this woman.Betty Grable

My Little Margie – I had to watch these reruns because it was my mom’s favorite show. It turns out that Margie liked the sauce.

Davy Crockett – Walt Disney wouldn’t let Fess Parker play a role in The Searchers. This is one that I actually found interesting.

Gunsmoke – Here is where a scandal really hits. While everyone was waiting for Miss Kitty to hook up with Matt, she was hooking up with Doc behind the scenes.Gunsmoke

Have Gun, Will Travel – Paladin was one of television’s coolest characters, and Richard Boone was pretty cool, too. Unfortunately, that cool lifestyle of drinking killed him.

The Andy Griffith Show – This is one thing that I didn’t know about my favorite show. It was pre-empted by the debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.

Hogan’s Heroes – Everybody knows about Bob Crane.

The Monkees – Charles Manson auditioned to be a Monkee.

There is a lot more, but you’ll have to buy the magazine for that. It’s the least I could do for the good people at Globe.