Are any of the Bonanza cast still alive? That is the first thing that comes to mind. After all, the show aired in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. This might come as a surprise, but yes, some of the actors are still alive. What happened to the cast of Bonanza?
The legendary western series tells the story of the wealthy Cartwright family. It attracted millions of viewers in the 60s and 70s. The show stayed on the air until 1973. The show got canceled after Dan Blocker died of a pulmonary embolism. He played one of the main characters, and the showrunners decided to call it quits. But there are still actors that lived to tell the story.
Let’s see what happened to the cast of Bonanza.
Mitch Vogel – Jamie Hunter
Mitch played the orphan boy in Bonanza. No surprise here, he was a little kid when the show attracted millions of viewers. He retired from acting and works as a businessman today. He lives in southern California with his wife and two daughters.
Following the end of Bonanza, Vogel guest-starred in other western series. Some of them include Here Come the Brides, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, and Dundee and the Culhane. But his big role came in another western frontier series, Little House on the Prairie. He played a role there from 1974 to 1975, just a few years after the end of Bonanza.
In 1978, he retired from acting and left the show business behind. He formed a rock band and moved to Pittsburgh. In 1985, he got married and now lives in Southern California with his wife and daughters.
In 2002, he returned to Bonanza’s locations for the TV Road Trip by Travel Channel. In the show, he narrated an account of his visit to the Ponderosa Ranch.
Vogel participated in the 2005 Bonanza Convention and the 2010 Bonanza Weekend in Liverpool, England.
Lorne Greene – Ben Cartwright
Lorne played one of the main Cartwright family members in the show. Following the end of Bonanza, after 14 years, he had to look for another job. And he found it in the ABC crime drama, Griff, playing a police officer. The show ran for only 13 episodes.
After that, Greene narrated the documentary Last of the Wild between 1974 and 1975. Lorne starred in the 1977 miniseries Roots. He also played Commander Adama in Battlestar Galactica and Galactica.
Through the 1970s, he served as the spokesman for Alpo Beef Chunks dog food commercials. That is one of the possible origins of the phrase “Eating your own dog food”.
In 2007, TV Guide listed Ben Cartwright as the second-most-popular TV father in the nation. And he continued his portrayal of wise father characters in the 1981 series Code Red. There, he played a fire department chief, commanding both his subordinates and his children.
He appeared in Highway to Heaven with his Bonanza co-star Michael Landon. And then he appeared with another Bonanza alumni, Pernell Roberts in the two-part episode of Vega$.
In the 1980s, he went back to Canadian television. Greene devoted his time and energy to wildlife and environmental issues. He hosted the CTV’s nature series Lorne Greene’s New Wilderness.
Pernell Roberts – Adam Cartwright
Pernell played the role of the oldest Cartwright sons from 1959 to 1965. After leaving the show, he worked predominantly in the theater.
Fun fact: Roberts was the only accomplished singer of the original cast. David Canary joined in 1967, but he was not part of the original cast. Pernell recorded a couple of songs and even an album during his Bonanza years. The Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies is a folk music album. It is part of the Bonanza 4-CD boxed set. He sings a couple of songs on the Bonanza box set albums.
After leaving the show, he returned to Broadway. There, he toured with Ingrid Bergman in Captain Brassbound’s Conversion in 1972. Roberts played the title role. In 1973, he earned a nomination for a Joseph Jefferson Award for his performance in Welcome Home.
In 1979, he achieved superstar status for his performance in Trapper John. In 1981, he received an Emmy nomination. The next year, he reunited with Lorne Greene for 2 episodes of Vega$. And in 1988, he starred alongside Milla Jovovich in The Night Train to Kathmandu.
Roberts died in January 2010 due to pancreatic cancer.
Dan Blocker – Hoss Cartwright
Dan played the role of Hoss, the one that he got famous for. But the end of the show marked the end of his career as well. He died tragically shortly after the show.
Dan got famous even before the show. He starred alongside Frank Sinatra in the 1963 comedy, Come Blow Your Horn. The two worked in 1968 in the Tony Rome film sequel, Lady in Cement.
During the filming of Bonanza, Dan befriended director Robert Altman. He wanted to cast Blocker in The Long Goodbye. Sadly, Blocker died before filming started. Sterling Hayden got the role, but the Blocker got his dedication.
In 1963, at the height of the show, Blocker started and received partial ownership in the chain of Bonanza Steakhouse restaurants. He appeared as Hoss in their commercials and made personal appearances at the franchise.
Michael Landon – Little Joe Cartwright
Michael played the youngest of the Cartwright boys. And after the end of the show, he had a successful television career. After the show got canceled, he appeared in another successful television series, Little House on the Prairie. He portrayed Charles Ingalls in the show taken from a 1935 book. Little House earned several Emmy and Golden Globe awards and nominations.
Landon remained the show’s executive producer, director, and writer for the retool in 1982 as Little House: A New Beginning.
Landon continued his producing jobs in Father Murphy TV Series. And after two successful projects as a producer, he returned to Highway to Heaven as an actor. He played a probationary angel that helped people in order to earn his wings.
Michael got famous for hiring his son as part of the camera crew, but also bringing real-life cancer patients and disabled people to the set. After the cancelation of the show, he wrote and directed Where Pigeons Go to Die.
Landon got married three times. He has nine children. Michael died from pancreatic cancer in 1991 in his house in Malibu, California.
Ray Teal – Sheriff Roy Coffee
Teal got famous even before he stepped foot on the Bonanza stage. He had a 15-year career in movies and television. The show Where’s Raymond serves as one of his early successes. There, he plays a police officer.
Following the end of Bonanza, Ray secured only a few small acting jobs. He retired two years later. And passed away shortly after on April 2, 1976.
Tim Matheson –Griff King
Matheson played the role of a convict. He enjoyed success after the end of Bonanza. He still gets regular TV appearances and movie appearances.
He brought National Lampoon in 1989 with his business partner Dan Grodnik. They sold the company in 1991.
He took a role in the A Very Brady Sequel movie. He also appeared in Van Wilder, playing the title character. In the late 2010s, Matheson appeared in a couple of commercials, including a Volkswagen one in 2008.