Fans wrote letters of protest after Adam Cartwright became engaged on Bonanza

Trouble in Bonanza...

Those poor Cartwright men. It seems like every time one of them gets close to settling down, something happens to ruin their chance at love.

However, it turns out that one opportunity for love on Bonanza was actually thwarted by fans, rather than the series creators.

According to the Arizona Republic, the character of Laura Dayton, played by Kathie Browne, was introduced to the series with ulterior motives. The series had been having difficulties with one of its leads, Pernell Roberts, whose tumultuous history on Bonanza is the stuff of television legend.

Roberts left the show after six seasons, and in an interview with The Orlando Sentinel, he said, "I'm just sorry I wasn't able to get out of my contract and leave sooner."

He continued, "My problems with Bonanza were problems of communication. What we discussed would be, never was. I thought it would be a sophisticated show. Instead, it never went beyond the comic strip level."

But even while Roberts was still a member of the series main cast, there was still fear that he might depart the series suddenly, leaving producers struggling to explain the absence.

In an effort to remedy this, an NBC spokesman revealed to the Arizona Republic that Laura Dayton was included in the series to give Adam Cartwright a way out: Down the aisle. Provided that Pernell wanted to quit the series immediately, the series had ensured that Adam would be able to plausibly marry Laura, prompting his exit from the show.

The spokesman stated that the measure was "protection in depth." What they weren't anticipating, however, was the negative fan response begging the creators not to marry Adam off and separate him from the family. Ultimately, the failsafe wasn't necessary, and Browne's character ended up leaving Adam for the Cartwright's cousin, Will.

The fan mail also revealed that Bonanza had a previously unseen audience. The NBC spokesman said, "We even got letters from behind the Iron Curtain."

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14 Comments

Runeshaper 2 months ago
Well, you can't fault the fans for speaking their minds. If they knew Roberts wanted to leave, they may have thought/felt differently.
cperrynaples 2 months ago
Bonanza fans had nothing to worry about! Surely they must have known the love curse of the Cartwrights...LOL!
cperrynaples cperrynaples 2 months ago
PS Ironically Guy Williams was intended to replace Roberts! Of course he went on to Lost In Space!
Tresix cperrynaples 1 month ago
He also co-starred with Michael Landon in “I Was a Teenage Werewolf”.
Andybandit 2 months ago
I like the Adam character on Bonanza. I didn't like when he left Bonanza.
Mannixishot 2 months ago
I've seen Kathie Browne on other shows and she's a fantastic actress but the WRITING for her character on Bonanza sucked. I want to emphasize writing because there's only so much a good actor/actress can do with a lousy character or script.

Maybe fans would've had an easier time if the character Adam married was parallel to him. Adam is such a strong character and each episode Laura was in, she just seemed weak. Thought it from the very first episode she was in to the very last episode. I wanted to fall over when she wanted ADAM to tell her little girl that her daddy was dead. Like what was that? But somehow the little girl knew her daddy was dead because she didn't want to go to the area her daddy was buried at.

I thought Pernell had hot chemistry with "Woman of Fire".
cperrynaples Mannixishot 2 months ago
Browne of course went on to marry Carl Kolchak...LOL!
MrsPhilHarris 2 months ago
I always laugh when I read he thought the show would be “sophisticated “. It is not Masterpiece Theatre, it’s a tv western. How sophisticated did he think it would be?
Mannixishot MrsPhilHarris 2 months ago
I see it from both sides of the aisle. I want to throw Robert Reed into that mix as well. When you're told serious concepts and the thing that makes it to the screen is anything but serious, I can see having irritation about it. But at the end of the day they're gonna go with what fans like. I honestly prefer the more serious scripts to the silly ones but I figure most fans prefer the silly to the serious because it gives people a chance to laugh. Life is hard enough/serious enough that people just want to tune out and enjoy themselves for an hour without serious stuff hitting them in the face with what they're watching.

I will say it seems like they tried to accommodate Pernell as much as they possibly could. I can't help but notice Michael Landon and Dan Blocker were the ones getting the silly episodes and I don't really remember seeing all that many of Pernell getting stuck doing the silly episodes.
cperrynaples Mannixishot 2 months ago
Well, you have to consider that Reed was coming off The Defenders, one of the most acclaimed dramas of the '60's! Certainly he saw TBB as a step down!
Adamtwelvia MrsPhilHarris 2 months ago
Did he think 'Trapper John, Md' was sophisticated enough?
cperrynaples Adamtwelvia 2 months ago
Well, at least he didn't have to ride a horse..LOL!
MrsPhilHarris Mannixishot 2 months ago
I don’t know if there were many serious half-hour shows on tv at that time but I think Robert Reed should have realized that anything by the creator of Gilligan’s Island would not be riveting drama.
MrsPhilHarris Adamtwelvia 2 months ago
I wonder. 🤔
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