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?