24 beautiful behind-the-scenes pictures from Bonanza

The Ponderosa was a fun place to work.

The Everett Collection

As far as we can tell, Dan Blocker always had a smile on his face. The actor, best known for playing the big, lovable Hoss, was a joy to be around on set. We have the photos to prove it.

The Bonanza cast and crew were in good spirits, which we suppose you would have to be to work on a show for 14 seasons. Whether they were working on a studio lot or out in the desert, there's typically a grin under those cowboy hats.

Take a trip back to the Ponderosa with these revealing behind-the-scenes photographs from Bonanza.

Taking a plain to work

The Everett Collection

How did they haul all that stuff out to the desert for location shoots? With a little help from sponsor Chevrolet.

Horse play

The Everett Collection

Dan Block and Lorne Greene give Michael Landon a lift.

A real ham

The Everett Collection

Blocker shares a sandwich with Stanley Livingston of My Three Sons on the Desilu lot.

Lights, camera… wagon!

The Everett Collection

Under the bright lights, as if working in the desert wasn't hot enough.

Enjoying the Greene-ry

The Everett Collection

Bonanza was the first Western to film completely in color, which made scenery like this all the more splendid.

Baby on board

The Everett Collection

Greene does a little babysitting on set.

A rising Junior

The Everett Collection

Landon relaxes at home with his son Michael Landon Jr. in 1965.

Best supporting actor

The Everett Collection

Blocker poses with his costars from the unforgettable St. Patrick's Day episode "Hoss and the Leprechauns."

Technicolor, dream coat

The Everett Collection

Blocker shows his ponderous side in a publicity shot.

Raising crane

The Everett Collection

They had to get the camera high for this beautiful wide shots.

Wagon training

The Everett Collection

The Cartwright boys show off their whip on set.

Tables for two

The Everett Collection

Blocker and Landon between scenes in a saloon set.

Enjoying some kick-backs

The Everett Collection

Landon relaxes with a frosty mug.

Map to the stars

The Everett Collection

Landon, Greene, Pernell Roberts and Blocker ponder the map of the Ponderosa seen in the opening credits.

Boxing day

The Everett Collection

Blocker spars with Tor Johnson, the professional wrestler best known for Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Getting directions

The Everett Collection

Blocker and Greene take some cues from the script.

Taking a dip

The Everett Collection

Blocker chills in a pool in 1965.

Everyone present

The Everett Collection

The Cartwright boys exchange gifts for Christmas.

Hoop dreams

The Everett Collection

Greene gives a girl a Hula Hoop as Santa Claus.


The Everett Collection

Landon cuddles with his second wife, Lynn Noe, shortly after they were married in 1963.

A howling good time

The Everett Collection

Greene hits the town with his wife, Nancy Deale.

Gun show

AP Photo

Australia's Tania Verstak, 1962's Miss International Beauty is given a lesson in western marksmanship by Greene during a visit to the set on August 12, 1963. Greene was the emcee of that year's edition of the beauty contest in Long Beach, California.

Italian import

AP Photo/David F. Smith

Italian actress Virna Lisi visits the western set at Paramount studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles, Oct. 23, 1965, where Bonanza is filmed. Miss Lisi was in Hollywood to co-star with Frank Sinatra in Assault on a Queen.

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DavidVit 21 months ago
Hello Dear People of MeTV.

My name is David Vitrano. I am 27 years old and I currently live in Rio Vista California. Back when I was 4 years old I went to Lake Tahoe with my family and went to a wondrous Place, Ponderosa Ranch. I really enjoyed being there seeing all the sights and all the activities that was there. But when I heard that it closed down in September of 2004, I was really devastated and it needs to come back. Here’s the history and why it needs to come back.

In 1967 This wondrous place opened up that takes you back to the old days in the wild west called Ponderosa Ranch. Home of TV's Bonanza. based on the popular American Western television series that ran on NBC from September 12, 1959, to January 16, 1973. It was a place that became one of Lake Tahoe's most popular tourist attractions by far. I was four when I first came to this place and I absolutely loved it but when I heard that this place closed down 2004 I was devastated. I'm 27 now and I still wish it's still open because I really enjoy that going to this place and I really have wanted to do it again.
Here's some more information on what this place was.

(TV origins of the fictional Ponderosa Ranch)
The idea for the theme park came about in 1965. Bill and Joyce Anderson owned a small horse ranch, which is located in about the same area as the fictional Ponderosa on the burning map. According to the Andersons, tourists would regularly show up at their gates asking where the Ponderosa was. Smelling opportunity, the Andersons contacted NBC and Bonanza creator-producer David Dortort. They proposed turning their small ranch into a theme park. NBC, Dortort, and the cast saw the tie-in as a "bonanza" for everyone. All parties being of one accord, the cast agreed to promos being shot at the ranch site and the Virginia City set – including the nearby Silver Dollar Saloon – for financial consideration. The ads stimulated revenue for the park.
The park opened to the public in 1968, complete with a scale replica of the Cartwright ranch house and barn similar to the ones seen on television. A replica of Virginia City was later added. The original plan was to open the set to tourists once filming had wrapped. However, shuttling cast and crew up to Incline Village on a weekly basis became cost-prohibitive. Thus, only 15 episodes of Bonanza were shot there. A majority of ranch-specific scenes were shot on a sound stage at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. Outdoor scenes were filmed on location at nearby Big Bear Lake, Red Rock Canyon, Mojave, or eastern Kern County, California. However, Michael Landon, Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker, and David Canary often made appearances at the ranch in costume to mingle with fans and sign autographs. Blocker died in 1972, and NBC canceled the series the following year. Canary, dressed in character as Candy, made his last visit there in 2002 for a PAX-TV special. Mitch Vogel (Jamie Cartwright) appeared at the ranch for the Travel Channel's "TV Road Trip" in 2002, in which he pitched a behind-the-scenes look at the Ponderosa Ranch and Incline Village. Copies of the "Ponderosa Map", autographed by three of the Cartwright's, became souvenirs at the ranch for decades afterward, along with tin cups bearing their likenesses. Episodes that were filmed entirely or in part at the ranch bear a title plate at the end of the credits. These episodes are from the tenth season through the end of the series (1968–73).

(The Ponderosa Experience)
Parking for visitors was at the highway level; only official vehicles, such as the park's Conestoga wagons, were allowed at the top of the ridge, where the park was located. Depending on the time of day, a park visit could include breakfast. Lunch, including a "Hoss Burger", could also be purchased. Estimates are that more than three million of these were sold during the park's existence.
A visit to the park consisted of visitors riding up on the wagon, being "robbed" by "outlaws", and then disembarking at the main house. Adjacent to the house were the "graves" of Ben Cartwright's three wives, each of whom had given birth to one of the three (half) brothers. Graves of the Cartwrights and cook Hop Sing were later added, following the deaths of Dan Blocker (1972), Victor Sen Yung (1980), Lorne Greene (1987), and Michael Landon (1991). The house contained a less-than-realistic carved figure of Ben Cartwright sitting at his desk, and of Hop Sing working in the kitchen. The only parts of the house that actually existed were the living room, dining room, kitchen, and office. The stairs led nowhere, as the "bedrooms" were actually located on a soundstage in Hollywood. Thus, the tour of the house took very little time.
The main attraction was the ranch's version of Virginia City, which was miles from the real Virginia City but immediately adjacent to the rear of the house set (on the show, the ranch was about a two-hour ride on horseback from Virginia City). There were activities such as a haunted house, panning for gold, amusements based on old-time Wild West shows, as well as concessions and souvenirs.
Only the front of the ranch house was ever shown on television because a highway ran directly to the right of the house. In episodes shot in-studio, the home exterior has a backdrop of sky and trees. The ranch house was a single-story structure, although from the outside it appeared to have a second story. Little Joe's green corduroy jacket and Hoss' brown suede vest were displayed hanging on a rack.
When the ranch opened in 1967, Pernell Roberts (Adam Cartwright) had long since departed the series. Consequently, he was not featured in Ponderosa's promotional campaign until after the show's initial run. At that time most of the shows broadcast in syndication featured the Adam Cartwright character. His picture was in the group painting on the sign promoting the park at the entrance. When the park folded in autumn 2004 Pernell Roberts was still alive, so no Adam grave marker was added. Pernell Roberts died on January 24, 2010.
Near the main house were sculptures of the horses ridden by Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker and Michael Landon that visitors could have their pictures taken either on or alongside off. The park also had a church that could be reserved for weddings near the church where the grave markers are located. In 1999, a VHS tour was made available to patrons. In 2002, David Canary appeared at the ranch in Candy's wardrobe for a special produced by PAX TV.

The ranch and park remained a popular seasonal attraction for decades after the network run of Bonanza ended, having outlived most of the series' original cast. Business remained strong into the late 1990s. The land was purchased by billionaire software entrepreneur David Duffield in 2004. Who believed (stupidly) that it was a real eyesore. In September of that year he closed the Ponderosa “indefinitely"

It has been 17 years since this incredible place closed down to a public because mr. David Duffield.
To all of the fans. The Ponderosa Ranch need's to be rebuilt and to be brought. And reopened to the public. Especially in time for the show's 70th anniversary on September 12, 1959. It was a great place then and should never have been closed down. I even created a petition for people to sign to help bring it back to life. http://chng.it/wxrpzR8kgn


To bring us back what not only what America was back during the old west, but also help keep the spirit of one of the greatest television series of all time.

Long live Bonanza and long live the Ponderosa Ranch! 🗺🔥🐎🌲🤠

Here are some video links for you to see.


(This one is 40 min long)


ChapSchoon 26 months ago
The Publicity shot of Dan Blocker is actually from a Movie he did with Susan Clark, Warren Oates, and Paul Petersen, not Bonanza.
ralmengor 48 months ago
Excllent pics, they look brand new
MikefromJersey 49 months ago
That photo of Lorne Greene "enjoying the Greene-ry" is famous, or rather infamous.
It's a Forest Tucker "Anaconda" like moment. They made a big joke of it on a talk show
I saw in England. I would have never known till it was pointed out.
The pic with Hoss & Tor Johnson: Blocker was no slouch in regards with wrestling, when he was 14
he beat all comers - grown men - at his town's 4th of July picnic in Texas.
ChapSchoon MikefromJersey 26 months ago
The phot is reversed as well.
Karl 55 months ago
The tables for two photo is reversed. The guns are on the incorrect sides of Hoss and Little Joe.
Cowgirl Karl 51 months ago
They probably did it as a joke. Michael was a big joker & so was Dan.
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