Bonanza TV show canceled: Last roundup for ‘Bonanza’ (1973)
by Bob Martin, TV-Radio Editor
“Bonanza” bites the dust tonight.
The 430th and final episode in the long-running NBC series airs at 8 this evening, the network having decided to kill the show in the middle of its 14th year.
For a show that was canceled before it ever went on the air on September 12, 1959 — Lorne Greene told me it was canceled after the first six episodes were shot, but then revived — “Bonanza” did all right.
And even though it is ending its run of original telecasts, “Bonanza” will continue to be seen on a rerun, syndicated basis on about 100 independent and network-affiliated stations in the United States. It also will be viewed by an international audience of more than 400 million people in more than 80 countries, including some behind the Iron Curtain. (Greene told me in an interview of being approached by a number of well-wishers and autograph seekers while visiting a museum on a trip to Russia with his mother several years ago. His parents were born in Russia, and Greene is a native of Canada.)
Michael Landon, who was just a young man when the series started with him in the role of Little Joe Cartwright, wrote and directed tonight’s episode, as he did the first one of this season.
In tonight’s episode, Joe shares a meal in the open country with a psychotic stranger (played by Tom Skerritt), who the next morning warns the unarmed Joe he has four hours to escape — and then he is going to track him down and kill him.
Landon and Greene are the only two of the four original stars to be with “Bonanza” to the end. Pernell Roberts, who played Adam, the oldest Cartwright son, quit the series in 1965, and Dan Blocker, who portrayed the lovable Hoss, the gentle giant, died last May.
For those viewers who just can’t get along without the Cartwrights, Channel 5 carries the series in syndication Monday through Friday at 6 pm.