Do you know Martha Minor?
What of Betty Endicott?
Does Bob Miles ring a bell?
You saw them if you watched Bonanza. Martha played Blonde Saloon Girl for 82 episodes, Betty was Brunette Saloon Girl for 78 episodes, and Bob Miles was Townsman, 74 episodes.
I encountered Bonanza on Nick at Night or one of those cable channels that show old television shows the other night. While it was a western, it seemed like it was more than a western. Bonanza was a weekly show telling stories about a frontier family - Ben, a retired sea Captain -- and his three boys. They ran the Ponderosa Ranch but most stories were about Ben and the boys. Ben had been married three times, widowed three times, and each son had a different mother. Not many women survived on Ponderosa. They seemed doomed as soon as someone professed love.
I was never a great Bonanza fan but I think everyone was a bit of a Bonanza fan. The show seemed to play every Sunday night and then entered syndication, so reruns were on almost every night. Airing as a series for fourteen years, the opening credits, with a brand burning through a map with the fast paced music, which varied slightly over the year (as theme music does), was a fun uplifting, spirited song. I knew about the actors and the characters even though I didn't try watching it often. It and Barbra Stanwyck with Lee Majors on The Big Valley, and James Arness in Gunsmoke dominated television.
When I saw Bonanza the other night, I knew that all the actors except David Canary, who played Candy, the foreman, was deceased. It's rare that I know such matters. I don't know if I know it because I endured less information loads back then or because I was younger and hadn't destroyed too many brain cells.
But there was Ben (Lorne Green), Little Joe (Michael Landon), Hoss (Dan Blocker), Hop Sing (Victor Sen Yung) and Adam (Parnell Roberts). I turned to IMDB to jog my memory a bit. I could see Sheriff Coffee and describe him, but I didn't know who played him (Ray Teal, 1902 - 1976).
My mother in law is a big Bonanza fan. My wife and I visited the Ponderosa Ranch set at Lake Tahoe, California. Of all the places I've visited in the world, my visit to the Ponderosa Ranch excited her more than all the rest together.
One other Bonanza tale involved the writer teaching the first writing seminar I attended, at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The instructor, Susan Clauser, told her story of how she became a successful television screenwriter by studying Bonanza and then writing and submitting a script, with Rod Serling's help and encouragement. More Bonanza scripts followed, along with novels and movie scripts. It was a fascinating, inspiring story, and a pleasure meeting her.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com