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September 16, 2019 / philosophermouseofthehedge

No flash. Just dash.

Girls screaming at a concert. 1984. ( Rob Bogaerts/Anefo.Dutch National Archives/

“It’s them! Outta the way. He needs me!” (Rob Bogaerts/Anefo Dutch Nat. Archives/

No special effects. The primitive backdrops rather flat. No choreography, yet they were a hit with a few high notes.

Who was the first Boy Band, the one that set the formula for all the rest?

Hold the microphone – it sure looks like the western TV show Bonanza set the pattern. 

  • There was a reserved, “tall, dark and handsome” one: Adam. The oldest, he was philosophical, the thoughtful, the smart one.
  •  Hoss/Eric, the athletic middle boy, filled the role of big, lovable, strong, yet, kind, if not the sharpest tool in the shed..
  • Then there was the hot-headed, bad boy: Little Joe, the youngest: a dreamy, romantic (and many said, the cutest).
  • Riding herd over them through time and scripted drama, was band of boys manager, sensible Ben Cartwright

The show must go on- even if one of the guys decides to leave for greener pastures or a solo career. Bonanza’s band of brothers showed how it was done.

  • Nephew Will Cartwright (Rode in as a substitute during the time “Adam” left then returned)
  • Little Joe’s maternal older half-brother, Clay, took the stage for a bit.
  • Another one filling a blank spot was a certified “bad boy” Griff King, a parolee who tries to reform his life under Ben’s guidance (Female fans wistfully dreamed of reforming the troubled one.)
4 men in cowboy outfits. Cast of 1962 TV series Bonanza (NBC tv/sponsor Chevy pub. relations company (USPD.,, artist life/

Wardrobe note: Uniform costume within genre, yet each demonstrates their own designated personality. (Their General store must have had quite a selection considering the different hats.. That clothing must have been made from that couch fabric that repels dirt and water. They always look so clean for ranch hands.)(USPD/

Naturally drama among group members hooks fans, then and now. Backstories and personal conflicts are a must.

  • When Adam returned after going AWOL from the series, he found that his fiancée had fallen in love with Will and those two packed up her daughter, left by stage left and was never seen again. Nothing like being left at the altar for a sad song.
  • There’s Little Joe’s paternity. His French Creole mother, Marie, was previously married to husband, “Big Joe” Collins / Jean De’Marigny (depending on the episode) who died saving Ben Cartwright. Of course Ben comforted her in her grief and they married.
  • Three brothers. Three mothers. Step children always adds tension and angst. Ah, the struggle for favoritism.

Naturally, as with any boy group, they age. No problem! Nothing like a boy band reunion as adults – sometimes with families in tow. They did that, too.

  • Adam supposedly immigrated to Australia and had a son, Adam ‘A.C.’ Cartwright, Jr, who almost showed up in a return visit episode.
  • Fan hearts were broken when a script sent Little Joe to war. (But a son, Benjamin ‘Benj’ Cartwright, actually showed up later in a couple of Bonanza movies.)
4 men riding horses. 1959 TV series Bonanza. Cast: dan Blocker, Michael LAndon, Loren Greene, Pernell ROberts . NBC (USPD. pub. photo, artist life,

All riding the same, but all riding very different horses. Setting the band width pattern. (USPD./

Boy bands today always claim they are not pop and fluff – that they do offer serious cultural messages. So did the Bonanza bunch.

Only their basic formula, “caring for one another and fighting for just causes”,  was all done on weekly TV episodes rather than on Twitter and social media.

  • The Bonanza boys focused on relationships and working through troubles and conflicts – except not done with music, in song, or with choreographed dance steps. (Just as well, the image of Hoss whirling like one of Disney’s hippos in the old Fantasia…) 
  • The modern boy bands may brag they to promote social justice on a much bigger internet stage, but the Bonanza bunch included on the small flickering screens scripts about the environment, substance abuse, domestic violence, anti-war sentiment, illegitimate births, bigotry against Asians, African Americans, Native Americans, Jewish people, Mormons, the disabled  (List of the corresponding episodes here.). Surprising accepting differences and diversity stuff.

Flash back boys.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

Vintage Bonanza episodes on several YouTube channels (see one here) or on Amazon Prime.

Three people in western dress dancing. Bonanza pub. photo by NBC1962 (USPD., artist life/

Apparently they did try to choreograph a dance number in 1962. She looks a little worried.(USPD/





Leave a Comment
  1. Kate Crimmins / Sep 16 2019 8:03 am

    Bonanza was always one of my favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 16 2019 12:19 pm

      Always had to get homework done before it came on!
      Thanks for riding along

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kate Crimmins / Sep 16 2019 12:25 pm

        It was on a Sunday night. I had to have my homework done long before Sunday night!

        Liked by 1 person

        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 16 2019 12:44 pm

          Not a last minute kid, eh?
          Actually we were out of town most weekends at the farm. Mom never let us take school books/work as she was afraid we’d leave them accidentally. So had to work fast when we got home…back when they took off for neatness, too. Arrrgh!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. pensitivity101 / Sep 16 2019 8:07 am

    I remember the series well………….. and the theme!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. D. Wallace Peach / Sep 16 2019 11:33 am

    I really liked that show as a kid. It was on our 3-channel TV and often the clothes hanger that served as our antenna couldn’t get much of a picture. You nailed the characters! My crush wavered between Adam and Little Joe. Ha ha. Ah, the good old days. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 16 2019 12:23 pm

      We had the same antenna! Luckily the show was on the station closest to us so the picture wasn’t all fuzzy and flickering grey snowy. Maybe good to have grown up when TV was so new and such a wonder. (And when the scripts were well constructed stories with developed characters who became to feel so real)
      Thanks for joining this circle of wagons

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ally Bean / Sep 16 2019 1:29 pm

    I hadn’t thought about Bonanza in years. I don’t remember much about it except the opening with the men on horses, branding iron burning a hole in paper. And the theme song. It was on after my bedtime, I think. Not sure that I even have an opinion about it one way or another.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 16 2019 3:02 pm

      That song and that burning hole in the map – did that creator ever think it would be such an icon? (Probably paid peanuts for that work)
      I was surprised the show ran for 14 seasons – that seems almost impossible. Why I remember is that the characters were quite set in their particular role type and that the oldest who wore black a lot (in a time where the good guys wore white in the movies) and looks mildly bored and like he wasn’t really interested in being there.
      It was one of the few tv shows we watched…seems like there were “Gun Smoke” watchers and then there were “Bonanza” watchers…wonder if they were on at the same time? We had to watch the station that came in with the best picture – all 3 stations cut signal power back at night – That seems really funny now.
      Thanks for staying up late enough to comment on this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. shoreacres / Sep 16 2019 8:58 pm

    I remember the theme song, but I don’t remember a thing about the show. As a matter of fact, I had to look up the theme song on YouTube, and when I glanced at the comments, I saw this: “I met the artist who painted the Ponderosa map.I had a meeting with him in his own home. A copy was burned for the opening shot; the original is owned by NBC.”


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 17 2019 10:33 am

      How cool is that! I really don’t remember the show either. Couldn’t believe it was on 14 seasons. Apparently the network was quite worried about some of the controversial themes of some of the scripts. I do remember thinking how clean their clothes stayed considering it was a ranch. The current news reporting has more dirt and grime. (One good thing about small person quieting is all the fun kid books you get to read…maybe a list on a post as alternative to social media and TV?)
      Thanks for singing along

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Curt Mekemson / Sep 17 2019 4:41 pm

    “Always had to get homework done before it came on!” I was going to make the same comment. Best incentive I ever had. Loved the show. My next post will be on Virginia City which ‘bordered’ on the ranch. Of course, the ranch was so darned big, lots of things bordered on it. Might even provide some competition for some of your big Texas ranches. 🙂 –Curt


  7. doesitevenmatter3 / Sep 19 2019 3:10 pm

    Emilio, Sue, and I got an e-mail from Sarah with an update on LordBeariOfBow and Emilio shared the update on LBoB’s WP site in the comment section.
    Not good news. 😦


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