Bonanza in Color: A TV Pioneer

Bonanza, the first Western televised in color, premiered on a Saturday night in the fall of 1959. After Gunsmoke, Bonanza was the longest-running and most successful Western in U.S. television, airing for fourteen seasons. The series related the story of Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene) and his three sons, Adam (Pernell Roberts), Hoss (Dan Blocker) and Little Joe (Michael Landon), prosperous ranchers in the vicinity of Virginia City, Nevada, in the mid 1800s, during the Civil War years and the discovery of the Comstock Silver Lode. The show was designed to appeal to a broad audience, crossing age and gender groups. The action characteristics catered to a more traditional audience for Westerns, while dramatic issues and family values expanded the show's popularity to a more general audience. The careful photography presented beautiful scenery and interiors resembled movies more than other contemporary television shows.

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