Hussaini Hanging Bridge — Pakistan
The village of Hussaini in Northern Pakistan is home to Borit Lake and the Hussaini Hanging Bridge. Watch your step, because this footbridge features unpredictable gaps between the sticks and wooden planks which serve as a makeshift walking path. The Hussaini Hanging Bridge has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout its history, probably because it was never constructed professionally in the first place. You’ll need nerves of steel if you want to make it to the other side!
Mekong River Crossing – China
The Mekong river flows through a total of six different Southeast Asian countries – China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Depending on where you are along the river’s path, the water conditions can range anywhere from gentle to full-on raging rapids. This photo must have been captured just after a severe storm. The man walking along the wires appears to be an expert slack-liner, and it’s a good thing because falling into the water could be very dangerous!
Royal Gorge Bridge — Colorado
The Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado is one of the most spectacular suspension bridges in the world. The bridge, which spans 1,260 feet over a rocky canyon, was first built in 1929. For over 50 years, the Royal Gorge had no stabilizing wind cables, a feature which is now considered crucial for a bridge’s structural integrity. In 1982, the bridge was finally renovated, and wind cables were added. While the Royal Gorge Bridge is now much safer, we still wouldn’t recommend looking down!
Millau Viaduct — France
The Millau Viaduct is the tallest bridge in the world. The cable-stayed bridge crosses the Gorge Valley of Southern France and stands about 1,125 feet above the base. The bridge is over 8,000 feet long and 105 feet wide. Construction began in 2001 and finished in only three years. To this day, the Millau Viaduct is praised as one of the greatest modern-day engineering achievements, and even won the 2006 Outstanding Structure Award from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering.
Mystery Bridge — Indonesia
The ‘Indo Board’ is a device used by surfers and skateboarders to help them develop and work on balance. Basically, the goal is to balance a wheel-less board on a foam cylinder without either end touching the floor. Even the most well-trained ‘indo-boarders’ wouldn’t fare so well on this bridge in Indonesia, which appears to be on its very last leg and probably shouldn’t be in use by anyone. For some reason, that doesn’t seem to bother these schoolchildren!
Hanging Bridge Of Ghasa — Nepal
Believe it or not, the Hanging Bridge of Ghasa in Nepal is used for both humans as well as animals. On a regular basis, donkeys and cattle traverse the terrifying footbridge hanging high above the river valley. Despite its vulnerability to wind and rain, the Bridge of Ghasa has been used actively for decades. While the bridge often sways back and forth, it is equipped with high side rails, providing security to those daring enough to cross.
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge — Ireland
The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Northern Ireland might just be the scariest hanging bridge on our list. Every year, thrill-seekers from all over the world head to the UK to walk across the 65-foot bridge that stands 100 feet above the rocky shores and cliffside. The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge was originally designed by a fisherman who wanted to get to Carrick Island. For some reason, this fisherman decided to include just one rope handrail. Thankfully, the bridge now has handrails on both sides.
Sidu River Bridge — China
Above the Sidu River valley in the Badong County of China, you’ll find the Sidu River Bridge, a suspension bridge that stretches for over 4,000 feet. It’s a long way down from this bridge- 1,600 feet to be exact. Constructed in 2009, the Sidu River Bridge was the world’s highest bridge at the time. Unlike many of the other bridges on our list, the Sidu River Bridge was built professionally, using modern technologies. Regardless, it’s still awfully scary to cross!
Trift Bridge — Switzerland
Spanning 558 feet over the glaciers of Switzerland at a height of 328 feet above sea level, the Trift suspension bridge is situated near the town of Gadmen in the Swiss Alps. The bridge was initially constructed in 2004, but those who were daring enough to cross the bridge on foot quickly noticed a pretty big problem with it. In windy conditions, the bridge would sway back and forth violently. So, in 2009, stabilizing cables were integrated to minimize the dangerous swinging.
The Langkawi Sky Bridge — Malaysia
This terrifying rollercoaster of a bridge wasn’t completed until 2005. With its unique design, the Langkawi Sky Bridge actually curves through the mountains of Kedah in Malaysia. The most frightening aspect of this bridge, which spans 410 feet, is that it only utilizes just one angled pylon for support. In 2012, the bridge was shut down for maintenance and upgrading. After years of delaying the bridge’s reopening, it was finally opened and deemed suitable for regular use again in 2015.
Mount Titlis Bridge — Switzerland
About 10,000 feet above sea level in the Swiss Alps, you’ll find a pedestrian bridge suitable for only the bravest of thrill-seekers. The Titlis Cliff Walk is thought to be the highest elevation suspension bridge in all of Europe. The bridge has a length of 320 feet with a width of just 3 feet, giving visitors the sensation that they’re walking along a tightrope. Although this bridge can reportedly withstand winds of up to 120 miles per hour, we won’t be pushing our luck anytime soon.
Vitim River Bridge — Siberia
Located in the tundra of Siberia, it’s honestly a miracle that the Vitim River Bridge is still standing today. The bridge, which is just 6 feet wide, is made of rusting metal with rotting wooden planks used as a walkway. Aside from the apparent deterioration, the most dangerous aspect of this bridge is the frequent build-up of ice. If you still want to cross this slippery pathway, keep in mind that there are no railings and the bridge teeters back and forth with the river’s tide.
Quepos Bridge — Costa Rica
Any bridge with the nickname of “The Bridge of Death” or the “Oh My God” bridge is certainly deserving of a spot on our list. The Quepos Bridge on the central Pacific coast of Costa Rica is situated along the road connecting Jaco to Quepos. It was constructed back in the 1930s as a railroad. Even though this bridge is barely suitable for one-way car traffic, truck drivers frequently attempt to cross the narrow pathway because they simply have no other options.
Bridge of Immortals — China
Just getting to this next bridge is a wild adventure in its own right. The Bridge of the Immortals is located in the mountains of Eastern China. The Huangshan, or “Yellow Mountain,” range is home to one of the most iconic historical sites and tourist destinations in the whole region. The trail leading to the Bridge of the Immortals is made of narrow wooden planks and some rusty nails. It follows the cliffside and wraps around the mountain.
Sunshine Skyway Bridge — Florida
This massive Florida bridge connects St. Petersburg to Terra Ceia. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge, commonly referred to as “the Skyway,” stretches for over four miles above the waters of the Tampa Bay. The spectacular feat of engineering took about five years to build. Today, the Sunshine Skyway is considered Florida’s “flag bridge.” If you’ve got a fear of heights, we would strongly suggest taking a boat to cross the Tampa Bay because the Skyway stands at a whopping height of 430 feet.
U Bein Bridge — Burma
The U Bein Bridge in Burma crosses the Taungthaman Lake. It spans about three-quarters of a mile and was constructed in 1850 using a type of tropical hardwood called teak. As you can see, this bridge is extremely dangerous because there is no form of support and nothing to hold onto along the sides. In addition, the U Bein Bridge has become a hotspot for criminal activities in recent years. A small police force now guards the bridge to protect tourists.
Storseisundet Bridge — Norway
The Storseisundet Bridge, located in Norway, connects the mainland of the Romsdal peninsula to the island of Averøya. This unique bridge was built using cantilevers, massive structures that extend out horizontally but are only supported at one end. The Storseisundet Bridge covers a distance of 850 feet. At its highest point, the bridge is 75 feet above the sea. It took a total of six years to build the bridge thanks to the region’s unpredictable weather and frequent hurricanes.
Root Bridges — India
The coolest thing about these bridges in India is that they are constructed entirely by nature. The Ficus elastica, a tree that thrives in the southern Khasi and Jaintia hills, produces a network of secondary roots that project outwards from higher up on the trunk. Over time, local tribes like the War-Khasis and the War-Jaintias learned how to manipulate the growth of the trees’ roots and create these spectacular bridges and pathways over rivers and through the forest.
Seven Mile Bridge — Florida
As you could probably guess, this bridge stretches for close to seven miles, connecting Knight’s Key in Marathon, Florida, to the Lower Keys. The Seven Mile Bridge, which was one of the longest bridges in the world at the time of its construction, probably doesn’t seem so dangerous upon first glance. However, once you consider the inevitable hurricanes that hit Florida on a yearly basis, you’ll understand why this bridge is among the most dangerous bridges in the United States.
Montenegro Rainforest Bridge — Costa Rica
If you loved to climb trees as a child, you might want to consider visiting the Sky Walk in Costa Rica on your next getaway. This vast network of footbridges allows you to trek through the treetops of the Monteverde rainforest. In total, the six suspension bridges stretch for 984 feet and give visitors the opportunity to see what lies within the upper levels of the jungle. Just be sure to use plenty of bug spray and watch out for snakes!
Taman Negara Canopy Walkway — Malaysia
The Taman Negara canopy walkway in Malaysia is believed to be the world’s longest suspension footbridge of its kind. Stretching for over 1,700 feet and standing over 130 feet above the forest floor, this bridge has become a spectacle and must-see destination for tourists from all over the world. You’ll need some serious nerves of steel if you want to make it all the way to the other side of this footbridge! Whatever you do, don’t look down!
Keshwa Chaca Bridge — Peru
While most people probably wouldn’t trust a bridge made of woven grass, the Keshwa Chaca Bridge has stood strong since it was created over 500 years ago by the Incas. Building this bridge was truly a team effort. First, Incan women braided small, thin ropes, which the men then used to braid large support cables. Even though the Keshwa Chaca Bridge has withstood the test of time, it is actually the last remaining structure from the age of Incan engineering.
The Pontchartrain Causeway — Louisiana
If you ever find yourself driving on the Pontchartrain Causeway in Southern Lousiana, rest assured that you will eventually be back on land. Just make sure you have plenty of gas in the tank because this bridge is almost 24 miles long. While it might not look so intimidating in photographs, realize that when drivers are in the middle of this bridge they can’t see land in either direction. If you’ve got a fear of big bodies of water, stay away from the Pontchartrain Causeway!
Kakum Canopy Walkway — Ghana
Kakum National Park in Central Ghana is home to an extensive network of hanging bridges. The bridges of the Kakum Canopy Walkway can reach 160 feet above the forest floor. Even with the safety netting, these bridges are terrifying to cross!
Aiguille Du Midi Bridge — France
You could say that the Aiguille du Midi Bridge in France is situated between a rock and a hard place. At 12,605 feet above sea level, this short bridge has been known to raise heart rates of daring visitors who decide to look down. In order to get to the Aiguille du Midi Bridge, travelers must take a 20-minute cable car that ascends a total of 9,200 vertical feet before reaching the scenic and precariously placed human-made structure.
Monkey Bridges — Vietnam
If you ever visit Vietnam, you’ll find plenty of these handmade bamboo passways, known as “monkey bridges.” They are particularly prevalent in the areas of the Mekong Delta and the Red River Delta. While several locals have no problem crossing monkey bridges, which often lack any sort of handrails, visitors and tourists are typically terrified at the thought of stepping foot on these primitive structures. Vietnamese locals will frequently cross monkey bridges while carrying between 20 and 50 kilograms of supplies on their shoulders.
Longjiang Suspension Bridge — China
The Longjiang Suspension Bridge, also known as Long River Bridge, is located just outside of Baoshan, Yunnan, China. Spanning over 3,900 feet, and standing 920 feet above the Long River, the Longjiang Bridge is one of the longest bridges ever built, as well as one of the tallest. A relatively new creation, the Longjiang Bridge finished construction in 2016. Before this massive bridge was built, driving from Baoshan to Tengchong meant taking an incredibly inconvenient 8.4-mile detour.
Capilano Suspension Bridge — Canada
High above the Capilano River in Northern Vancouver stands the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a pedestrian walking bridge which sees more than 800,000 visitors each year. The simple suspension bridge is 460 feet long and about 230 feet above the water. The bridge was first constructed in 1889 by a Scottish civil engineer named George Grant Mackay. After it was sold twice, Henri Auveneau eventually ended up buying the bridge and decided to renovate the entire structure in the mid-1950s.
Iya Kazurabashi Bridge — Japan
High above the Iya-gawa River in Tokushima, Japan, you’ll find the magnificent vine bridges of the Iya Valley which date all the way back to the 12th century. Among these unique footbridges is the Iya Kazurabashi Bridge, a terrifying and rickety structure made of wooden planks connected with mountain vines weaved together for extra strength. Cross the bridge if you’re looking for a rush, and if you’re feeling courageous, cross the bridge without holding onto one of the handrails. Just be sure to watch your step!
Deception Pass Bridge — Washington
Deception Pass Bridge actually consists of two separate two-lane bridges that connect Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island in the state of Washington. At about 180 feet above the water of Oak Harbor, Deception Pass Bridge spans close to 1,500 feet. Surprisingly, it cost more to repaint the bridge’s spans in 1983 than it did to build them in 1935. This bridge is not only an impressive demonstration of human engineering capabilities, but also a historical monument included in the National Register of Historic Places.
Ai Petri Bridge — Ukraine
High up in the mountains of Ukraine, thrill-seekers and mountaineers will find this frightening footbridge that crosses over a canyon 4,200 feet deep. The Ai Petri bridge connects two peaks of the Crimean Mountains. What makes this bridge particularly dangerous is the massive amounts of wind and fog that the area deals with on a regular basis. Even on a relatively calm day, visitors can feel the bridge swaying back and forth as they cross over the enormous canyon.
Eshima Ohashi Bridge — Japan
If you’ve been to a theme park like Six Flags, you’re probably familiar with that feeling of anxiety and suspense as a rollercoaster slowly approaches the drop-off point, immediately followed by the stomach-churning sensation of falling over the edge. That’s exactly what you’ll experience when you drive over the Eshima Ohashi Bridge in Western Japan. This two-lane bridge covers about a mile over Lake Najaumi and rises rapidly at a 6.1 percent gradient, allowing ships to pass beneath the road.
Baliem River Bridge — Western New Guinea
This bridge is located in the Baliem Valley of Western New Guinea. We definitely would not recommend crossing this makeshift structure unless you’re interested in going for a swim in the rough waters and foaming rapids of the Baliem River. While it’s clear to us that whoever built this bridge followed the same basic outline that the professional engineering companies use, we’re not so sure it’s safe to trust in their strange and primitive use of building materials.
Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge — China
Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge is a skywalk bridge located in China. Built as an attraction for tourists, this bridge is glass-bottomed and completely transparent. When it first opened, it was the longest and tallest glass-bottomed bridge in the world. Just 13 days after it opened, the authorities put out a notice stating that they’re closing the bridge due to overwhelming visitor traffic. Israeli architect, Haim Dotan designed the bridge to carry up to 800 visitors at a time but it was attracting about 80,000 people per day — exciting yet dangerous!
South Tongass Highway — Alaska
The South Tongass Highway is located over Hoadley Creek in Ketchikan in Gateway County of Alaska. Considering the fact that this freeway was built in 1957, it’s standing pretty strong. Unfortunately, though, looks can be deceiving. With 15,147 daily crossings, it’s no surprise that this highway is classified as structurally deficient. Of the 1,592 bridges in the state, 155 are classified as structurally deficient, meaning one of the key elements is in poor or worse condition. Repairing this highway would cost about $148.7 million.
Marienbrucke — Germany
The Marienbrucke, also known as ” Queen Mary’s Bridge,” is located in Germany. This particular tourist attraction happens to hold the title for the world’s most dangerous bridge. Situated close to the Bavarian Alps, the Marienbrucke is built to connect two cliffs to each other. It’s a stunning yet dangerous bridge that passes 295 feet over the Pöllat river, offering unparalleled views of Neuschwanstein Castle. Being that the bridge is a popular place to visit amongst tourists, the Marienbrucke can get very crowded and therefore, dangerous.
Pai Memorial Bridge — Thailand
The Pai Memorial Bridge, a historical landmark, is located in northern Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province near the Myanmar border. Originally made of iron, the bridge was actually built by Japanese soldiers in 1942 during World War II in order to cross the Pai River. They used elephants to drag trees from the jungles and forced villagers to work. After the war, the soldiers left and burnt down the bridge. This caused problems for villagers who used the bridge in their daily lives, so they rebuilt the wooden bridge over the Pai River once again.
Linyanti River Bridge — Namibia
The Linyanti River Bridge is located in the Mamili National Park, specifically in the north-eastern corner of the Zambezi Region in Northern Namibia. The bridge over the Linyanti River is about 131 feet long. It’s considered to be one of the most spectacular bridges in the world. While it does the job of getting you from one side to the other, the bridge is essentially just some iron planks over scary mud and deep water so we think it’s safe to say that this bridge is quite dangerous.
Plank Road in the Sky — China
When you have set up just a couple of wooden planks on the edge of a cliff, that can hardly qualify as a bridge. And yet, these Chinese locals, who live in and around the top of Mount Hua aren’t too fussed. Even at 7,000 feet from ground level, these people have no problem setting up some wooden planks and using them as makeshift bridges. In order to cross, you need to connect yourself to a harness that is connected by rope to a chain. While the view is undeniably stunning, is it really worth the risk?
Puente de Ojuela — Mexico
The Ojuela bridge, also known as the Mapimi, is located in the Durango state of Mexico and is closely connected to the goldmine that bears the same name. While miners used to use the bridge for work purposes, it is used these days by pedestrians. However, you would be crazy to try and drive a car over it – the bridge is just way too fragile for that kind of weight. Originally completed back in 1898, the Ojuela bridge acts these days as one of the most important tourist attractions in the area.
Captain William Moore Bridge — Alaska
While there are a number of dangerous bridges in Alaska, there is no denying that the Captain William Moore bridge is one of the most perilous out there. Located near the town of Skagway on the Klondike Highway, Captain William Moore was constructed back in 1976 in order to allow drivers to pass smoothly over the Moore Creek Gorge. However, the bridge has deteriorated a lot in recent times due to being heavily used by large trucks.
Mackinac Bridge — Michigan
They don’t call this bridge the “Big Mac” for nothing. Connecting the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan state, the Mackinac Bridge was completed back in 1957 and is an impressive sight to behold, seeing that it spans a “whopping” 26,372 feet. These days, the bridge is a true tourist attraction and although it appears to be pretty safe, the Mackinac has been known to send certain cars to their doom. You could always catch the ferry, which has proven to be much safer.
Borovsko Bridge — Czech Republic
The Borovsko Bridge is located in Borovnice in the Benešov District of the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. Also known as the Czech Avignon, the construction of this never-used highway bridge started in 1939 shortly before World War II started. This 328-foot bridge was only finished in 1950. However, it was also then that the construction was suspended and the bridge was abandoned. It was later flooded by the drinking water reservoir that was built in 1976. The bridge is so dangerous that all cars are totally forbidden.
30 Behind-the-Scene Facts of Bonanza
No Big Stars
Bonanza achieved its skyrocketed success with relatively unknown actors. The show’s forward-thinking producers consciously avoided hiring well-known faces as their lead characters.
The producers of the show believed that the new medium of color television was about to yield a new generation of stars. Though the show faced some initial struggle in gaining popularity, their decision finally paid off well! In two to three years, the lead cast members of Bonanza became huge international stars.
The First Global TV Show
Bonanza set several milestones in the history of American television production. After undisputed success in the United States, the show was broadcast globally. It was aired in many countries, wherever a television slot was available.
Decades before Netflix and other streaming services, Bonanza managed to attract and retain a huge viewership for over a decade! Even after the show ended in 1973, Bonanza has been in syndication for many years.
Change in Characters
During the first few seasons, the Cartwright family was seen as being much more hostile to outsiders approaching their ranch and land. But as the central character, Ben Cartwright was essentially running an important family business for the community, actor Lorne Greene suggested some changes.
The producers and writing team soon realized that running a family business meant that people would have to visit the Cartwright homestead to conduct business. This led to new character developments and the Cartwrights being seen as more approachable to their neighbors.
It has not escaped the eagle-eyed fans of the show, that the characters of Bonanza never really changed their clothes. Using the same clothing for the major characters was actually a cost-effective step the producers had to take while filming.
Repeating the costumes helped lower the production cost of the show. It also allowed the production crew to use stock footage whenever required. But despite major cost-cutting, Bonanza was one of the most expensive shows of that time.
Even with all of the cost-effective techniques and tricks, NBC was spending approximately between $100,000 and $150,000 per episode of Bonanza. This massive budget made the show one of the most expensive weekly television productions during that time.
Bonanza was also one of the most-viewed shows of that time. The brilliant performances of the cast helped build its huge popularity and dedicated fan base. It also justified the large expense spent on each episode.
What’s in a Name?
Apparently, everything! Actor Michael Landon portrayed the character of Joseph “Little Joe” Cartwright, the youngest Cartwright son. Landon’s original name was Eugene Maurice Orowitz. The actor was inspired to change his name while in acting school.
In order to find a good stage name, he consulted the local phone book. After picking a name, the beloved Michael Landon was born. The name change must have brought him good luck because just four months later, he was cast in the television show Telephone Time.
The cast of Bonanza included actors who also displayed their talents off-screen as well. Most of the actors were talented singers and some even made successful professional careers out of it.
The four actors that formed the Cartwright bunch contributed to Christmas at the Ponderosa, the Christmas-themed spinoff album released in 1964. Lorne Greene, the actor behind the central character Ben Cartwright, even released a single called “Ringo“, which was a huge hit in both the United States and Canada.
Actor Pernell Roberts played the role of the oldest Cartwright son, Adam Cartwright. When Bonanza was running at top of the ratings, he abruptly left the show after six years. His decision was a complete shock to the fans and his peers.
Behind the scenes, the writers of Bonanza knew that Roberts detested the show’s storyline and writing. The actor himself confessed his sour feelings in several interviews by revealing that the show failed him emotionally and he never regretted leaving it.
The Backup Plan
The producers of Bonanza knew that actor Pernell Roberts couldn’t be counted on to continue his role as Adam Cartwright. The character of cousin Will Cartwright was actually created as a replacement for Roberts, in case he ever walked off the show mid-way.
Actor Guy Williams played the role of Will Cartwright on five episodes of the show. Interestingly, Williams was first offered the role of Adam Cartwright but refused in order to play the role of Zorro instead.
A Real Obsession
While Pernell Roberts did not want to be involved with the show, actor Michael Landon enjoyed his time on the classic series. The Bonanza-obsessed actor didn’t just play a major role, but was highly devoted to almost every part of the show.
Landon appeared in almost all 416 episodes of Bonanza. He even started his writing and directing career on the show. Yes, you might not know that our “Little Joe” actually wrote and directed some of the most beloved episodes of the series.
Every obsession always comes with its own downsides. During the last few seasons, Michael Landon became incredibly hard to work with on a daily basis, which caused the production to suffer.
According to the behind-the-scenes rumors, Landon would regularly delay the shoots by attempting to create his own vision for the episode. He also made sure that no new major characters were introduced on the show.
The Early Attempts
Michael Landon was actually very passionate about Bonanza and really wanted to write for the show from the very beginning. Unfortunately, his early attempts failed, as producer David Dortort didn’t approve his scripts.
Eventually, Landon came up with a new modified script that changed Dortort’s mind and he considered it good enough to produce. From that point, Landon became one of the regular writers and an occasional producer of Bonanza.
The Real-Life Inspiration
The show has inspired some real business ventures in the United States. Popular restaurant chains Bonanza Steakhouse and the Ponderosa Steakhouse were actually inspired by this television series. Both steakhouses are owned by the Metromedia Restaurant Group.
Actor Dan Blocker, who played the lovable middle son Eric “Hoss” Cartwright, started these two chains. He founded the very first Bonanza Steakhouse in 1965, in West Port, Connecticut. In 1971, the chain expanded into Canada.
The King Arthur Connection
Screenplay writer David Dortort envisioned Bonanza to be a western version of the legend of King Arthur. The show was planned to be similar to the classic story of the legendary British leader, just set in the Old West.
In Dortort’s vision, Ben Cartwright was King Arthur, surrounded by his sons as his knights. This idea found its way into the storyline as Ben became the leader and guide for his children in their journey of life.
The Chevrolet Connection
The long-standing partnership with the famed car company Chevrolet played a major role in the economic success of Bonanza. The company sponsored almost all the episodes of the television show.
This deal not only helped the series to continue production but also gave it large portions of its revenue income. Also, as part of the sponsorship contract, the stars of the show appeared in a number of Chevrolet commercials and newspaper ads of that time, endorsing various vehicles of the iconic brand.
The Star Trek Connection
Don’t be startled! We are not talking about a cross-over here! It’s just the fact that many major actors from the original Star Trek television series appeared on Bonanza as guest stars.
Some of the major famed faces of the sci-fi classic who made appearances in this western series were Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan, Majel Barrett, and DeForest Kelley, among others. It’s no surprise that the fans from both worlds were entirely thrilled!
A Bonanza Theatrical Release
Now it’s time to be startled! If you didn’t know it, Bonanza actually had a theatrical release in the country of Mexico. There, the two-part episode entitled Ride the Wind was given a full release in theaters.
The two episodes were combined together in the form of a full-length feature film called Jinetes del Viento. Unfortunately, there were no such efforts made again. We would definitely love to see the Cartwrights on the big screen though!
Actual Lyrics in the Theme Song
Many of us have heard or even hummed the catchy instrumental tune of Bonanza‘s theme song. However, the song actually includes lyrics written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston.
Three of the lead actors (Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, and Dan Blocker), even sang the lyrics of the Bonanza theme song for the pilot, but it never aired on television. Later, famous singer Johnny Cash recorded his own version of the song.
The Massive Baby
When he was born, actor Dan Blocker was the largest baby ever born in Bowie County, Texas. He weighed a massive 14 pounds at birth. By his first grade, he reached a whopping 105 pounds of weight.
Blocker’s character on Bonanza, Eric “Hoss” Cartwright, was sweet and somewhat dimwitted. These characteristics perfectly suited his baby-face, but were totally opposite to the real person. In reality, Blocker was smart, witty, tough, and had a Master’s degree in dramatic arts.
Turning Down a Movie Role
Actor Dan Blocker was one of the top choices of director Robert Altman for one of the major roles in his 1970 movie M*A*S*H*. But Altman’s request was not granted by Bonanza producers, as they didn’t want to release the actor from his contract.
As a result, Blocker had to turn down the role. Undoubtedly, M*A*S*H* was still a huge box-office success. It would have been really interesting to see the projection of Blocker’s career had he starred in the film.
Making TV History
The contribution of actor Dan Blocker in Bonanza continued even after his untimely passing. The beloved actor passed away unexpectedly in 1972 due to health complications following gallbladder surgery, leaving his fans and peers heartbroken and in huge shock.
The unfortunate incident happened just weeks before the commencement of filming for the final season. The very first episode of the season entitled Forever was a tribute to the actor written by his co-star Michael Landon. It was the first time in the history of television that a character’s passing was directly acknowledged on air.
Struggle for Existence
During its first season, Bonanza really struggled to make an impact. With the Saturday night slot and lackluster ratings, the show was nearly canceled. The only saving grace was that it was one of the first television shows filmed and broadcast in color.
To support the introduction of color television, NBC was intent on keeping the show running. The slot was moved to Sunday evenings, and gradually the ratings soared. Bonanza went from barely surviving to thriving, becoming the number one television show in its time slot in 1964.
Selling Color TVs
Bonanza was one of the earliest television shows, and the first western production, to be filmed and broadcast in color. For that reason, NBC and its corporate parent company, RCA, supported the show even when it received low ratings.
RCA strongly vouched for the show to remain on the air at that time, because they felt that the show could help them sell more color television sets. Once Bonanza rose in popularity, the ability and future possibilities of color television were proven beyond any doubt.
Payment of the Guest Stars
During the first season, the producers of Bonanza were unsure about the future of the show, especially because the main characters were not well-known faces in industry. To attract viewers, many famous stars of that time were brought in for guest appearances.
The guest stars were actually paid more than the show’s actual stars, despite their brief screen appearances. By the second season though, the show became extremely popular and Bonanza made stars out of its lead actors.
The Ponderosa Ranch
The success of the show helped in bringing tourism to the Incline Village of Nevada, the filming location of the fictional Ponderosa Ranch. When Bonanza fans would arrive at a nearby farm, they were disappointed to see that there wasn’t actually anything there.
Sensing an opportunity, farmers Bill and Joyce Anderson partnered with the Bonanza producers and turned their horse ranch into a large theme park. They included several complete recreations of the family ranch house. Later, the park even served as a shooting set for portions of the show.
The Cartwright Curse
It seemed that every woman a Cartwright fell in love with ended up having to leave town or had something unfortunate happen to them. It became a fan-favorite joke, which also spread among the actors – there was obviously a ‘Cartwright Curse’ playing behind such circumstances.
It was Michael Landon, who made most fun of this particular arc of the storyline. It just seemed strange that something unfortunate would happen to each of these female characters.
Equal Screen Time
The four men of the Cartwright family shared the same amount of screen-time on the show. The production team wanted to make sure that no single character was overshadowed by any other.
In order to achieve this equality, the script of each and every episode was closely scrutinized to ensure that all four stars got equal screen time. The technique paid off and resulted in Bonanza being a very well-balanced show with every star shining.
Rotation of Credits
During the opening credits of each episode, the lead actors’ names appeared in different orders each time. This rotation of opening credits was another unique part of the show. It was aimed at ensuring that all lead actors would be seen as equal.
This system efficiently prevented any of the stars from scoring top billing every time an episode went on-air. This meant that all four of them had similar amounts of screen-time and recognition during the opening credits.
The Slang Title
Have you ever imagined that the popular show’s title was actually a mining term? Today, most of us associate the word “bonanza” with something profitable or rewarding. This definition, however, only came into use during the 19th century.
The word “bonanza” was a slang term, mostly used by the miners, to describe a large ore or mineral deposit. Interestingly, a real-life bonanza known as the Comstock Lode was located in Virginia City, where the characters of Bonanza are said to live.
Incredible On-Air Duration
Bonanza ran for 14 seasons and was the second-longest-running western series in the history of television series. The only one to run longer than this show was Gunsmoke, which continued for an impressive 20 years.
The incredible run of these shows made them the television classics of the 1960s. Even today, in various parts of the world, the syndication of both shows are continued to satisfy the dedicated global fan base of western-themed television series.