Whoops! This TV critic thought Hoss' name was Horse when Bonanza premiered

The reviewer loved the premiere episode — he just didn't quite get all the character names right.

In the very first scene of Bonanza's premiere episode, "A Rose for Lotta," Ben and Adam Cartwright discuss how they think the Ponderosa is as close to heaven on earth as they can imagine. They agree it's crucial to keep the land in the family.

It's an episode that had to set up the show and introduce its main characters in a memorable way, and as history has shown, the show succeeded.

In this now-famous opening scene, the conversation pivots when Adam complains that "Little Joe" never showed to meet them, and Ben laughs telling his son to go after what he wants, if it's not coming to him. Adam agrees he should track down Little Joe, saying, "Hoss'll know where he is."

Throughout this opening scene, both Ben and Adam straddle horses, and whether it was due to this horse visual or not, at least one reviewer taking in the Ponderosa for the first time ever misheard Hoss' name, fully buying into the wrong idea that the character was called "Horse" Cartwright.

"I'm glad I tuned in to the first episode of Bonanza," wrote After Last Night TV columnist Will Jones in The Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1959. "The writers faced a monumental chore here, with so many characters to motivate that even an hour show crowded them, and they proved ingenious."

It's at this point in his passionate review — where he positions himself as the ultimate authority on good TV in the opening paragraphs — the reviewer reveals how little attention he was paying to a major detail: the first name of one of the biggest main characters

"First there are the main characters: Ben Cartwright and his three sons – Adam, Horse and Little Joe."

The reviewer continued referring to Hoss as Horse throughout his review, explaining how the opening scene leads to an altercation between Adam and Little Joe.

"The fight that ensued was broken up by Horse, the middle brother, so-named because he's as big as one."

The critic did at least pick up on his heritage. Hoss' mom was Swedish, and the critic made note of that detail, writing about "Horse's mother," adding that she was a "Swedish amazon."

Of course, in 1959, there wasn't an internet to confirm name spellings on trusted resources like IMDb, and it's possible this TV critic never received promotional materials spelling out Hoss Cartwright's name.

We have to wonder how long it took before he realized his mistake.

Did anyone else think the character’s name was "Horse" when Hoss was first introduced?

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RobertM 34 months ago
I saw one episode where Hoss was introduced to a Mexican as "Caballo"--the Spanish word for "horse"; another time, Little Joe once joked to someone that "Hoss" ate like one.
UTZAAKE 34 months ago
Made the same mistake when I was a little kid in the early-1970s. Also did the same with Washington Redskins starting center Len Hauss. That team had Hall-of-Fame middle linebacker named Chris Hanburger who I accidentally called Hamburger. It happens.
justjeff 34 months ago
A Hoss is a Hoss, of coss, of coss...

What tickles me is that MeTV wrote an article about a typo... that's surely the pot calling the kettle black!
jomo justjeff 34 months ago
It is not a typo when it gets printed exactly as you wrote it. The TV critic did not hear very well, or he did not do his homework, or both.
justjeff jomo 34 months ago
point taken
CaptainDunsel jomo 34 months ago
There's a third possibility. The critic may have written "Hoss", but it was changed by an editor who didn't watch the show. I know I've had editors "fix" "mistakes" that were not in fact errors.
ncadams27 34 months ago
No - but I thought their last name was Costanza.
Runeshaper 34 months ago
I thought his name was horse too LOL Will Jones may have never lived it down and perhaps his readers didn't let him either, but I hope he got a good laugh or 2 out of it (-:
AnnaRentzVandenhazel 34 months ago
I knew his name was "Hoss" ever since I first heard it, I also knew sometimes cowboys refer to their horses as "hoss" so figured it was a nickname because he was as big as a horse, or ate like one. My mom said it was his real name, from his Swedish mother (played in a "retrospective" episode by Inga Swenson, who was later Ms. Kraus on "Benson"). But I've seen at least 2 episodes where it was mentioned that his name is really Eric (which can also be a Swedish name), so my belief about the nickname still stands.
Michael 34 months ago
If you hear somethi g for thefurst time, it's not unreasonable to miss-hear it.

You can't judge it based on living decades later.

There was a fleamarket in New England called "Hosstraders", apparently a regional version of "Horse traders".
LoveMETV22 Michael 34 months ago
There's actually a term for it. It's called " eggcorn – a mishearing of the original word or phrase.
Andybandit 34 months ago
I used to think Hoss's name was Horse, too. It sounds the same.
Andybandit 34 months ago
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herminia 34 months ago
I don’t remember Barry Coe, but I love Hoss, our family named him the Gentle Giant.
MrsPhilHarris 34 months ago
Was it ever explained why he was called Hoss when his name was Eric? Could Adam not pronounce Eric the same as Wally could not pronounce Theodore on LITB?
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MrsPhilHarris harlow1313 34 months ago
So that’s the story!
MrsPhilHarris Cowgirl 34 months ago
Thanks for that. I always wondered.
Thanks. Apparently it’s a German name. It’s Norwegian. And it’s southern U.S. slang.
Cowgirl Pacificsun 34 months ago
You're welcome. Glad I could be of some assistance.
daDoctah 34 months ago
And in the "Maverick" spoof of Bonanza, the middle brother was named "Mousse" because he ate a lot of creamy desserts?
teire 34 months ago
As a kid I thought he was Hoss, but as a variation on Horse, until my parents explained the name to me. A Hoss is a Hoss of course.
Pacificsun teire 34 months ago
of course
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 34 months ago
It's the famous Mister Ed.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 34 months ago
You always me me laugh, in a good way, of course!!
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