Bonanza - the Cast

Bonanza - the Cast
Pernell, Michael, Lorne and Dan - the objects of my quest!

Monday, April 11, 2016

The livin' end!

All right - no one has ever, EVER contacted me to ask me to finish this stupid story.

So you know what? Life goes on.

However, since I wrote this dumb thing, EVERY ONE of the then-still-living "Bonanza" actors has died.

Except "Jamie" ... Mitch Vogel ... God bless him, he lives on. Age 60 as of this year, and apparently livin' la vida loca in Alhambra, CA.

So here's the end of the story:

Everyone dies. Except Jamie. He marries a beautiful woman in a blue dress, and they both settle down in Alhambra, California, to live happily ever after.

The end.

Whew. Glad I got that out of my system!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Part 10 - The Outlaws!

(The story so far - A refugee from the year 2015 - me –was listening at the door of the infamous BUCKET O'BLOOD Saloon, on the set of "Bonanza", in alternate-universe year 1972, to what SOUNDED like the voices of Michael Landon, Dan Blocker and Mitch Vogel - but how could that be? In this time stream, Michael Landon has supposedly JUST died, and Pernell Roberts was just arrested for his murder! I screw up my courage, step through the door, and see Dan, Mitch, Michael, and -- WHAAAA??)

I’d know that stern, hawk-faced, no-nonsense visage anywhere – it was none other than Ed Davis, Chief of the LAPD!

But – contrary to his predecessors (and some of his after-decessors, or ante-decessors, whatever the word was), Ed Davis hadn’t been accused of any *major* scandals (that I was aware of). And having lived through both the L.A. Riots AND the O.J. Simpson trial, I knew my L.A. scandal sheet pretty well.

So what was he doing, apparently helping Dan Blocker, Michael Landon and Mitch Vogel frame the ever-innocent Pernell Roberts – not to mention giving poor Lorne Greene such a hard time?

Could it be that they were ALL just a bunch of – outlaws?? Naw - Mitch and Davis, maybe; Michael, conceivably; but not my sweet Danny!!

I’d been on the verge of revealing myself, but now? Too dangerous. I shrank back into the shadows and listened.

“Chief Davis, I gotta thank you for helpin’ us out with this,” Michael Landon said warmly.

Davis shrugged. “Hey, it’s the least I can do – considering the favor you boys did for me.”

(A favor? for Police Chief Davis? now what in the world …)

“Why, that was, er, no trouble at all,” Dan Blocker chimed in, a little hesitantly. “We were more’n happy t’ help you find a job fer young Mitch here.”

He clapped the ugly redhead on the shoulder, just a little harder than necessary, and Mitch winced, but grinned anyway.

And, forgetting I was supposed to be hiding, I smacked my forehead, Three Stooges-style, and said aloud, “OF COURSE! That explains why they put Jamie in the show – it was blackmail! I knew it couldn’t have been talent!”

Oops. Four pairs of eyes – two handsome, one scary and one just plain weird (I’ll let you figure out which was which) – turned to stare at me.

I smiled wanly. “Uh, hi,” I said. “Anyone know where I can get a cappuccino?”


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Part 9 - An Old Man

(The story so far - A refugee from the year 2015 - me - is listening at the door of the infamous BUCKET O'BLOOD Saloon, on the set of "Bonanza", in alternate-universe year 1972, to what SOUNDS like the voices of Michael Landon, Dan Blocker and Mitch Vogel - but how can that be? In this time stream, Michael Landon is - supposedly - dead, and Pernell Roberts was just arrested for his murder! Whassup??)

"Y'know, Michael," said Dan Blocker, my all-time hearthrob. "This seemed like a funny idea at first, but - is it really fair to do this t'poor Lorne? I mean, he's an old man, and --"

"Oh shucks," Michael interrupted (well, he didn't really say 'shucks' but hey, this is a family blog!), "you weren't worried about Lorne's age when we were driving down that hill and you pretended the brakes were out!" **

Dan chuckled at the memory. "Yeah ... yeah, that was funny, all right. Lorne an' Nancy were white as sheets by the time we got t'the bottom!"

Michael emitted that eerily familiar giggle again, and I couldn't help shivering. I'd never heard him laugh in person - and I shouldn't be hearing him now!

At least, that's what the ugly redhead had told me.

And since he was in there, with Michael and Dan, it finally dawned on me that "Jamie" was in on the whole gag, if that's what it was. (It probably wouldn't have taken me so long to figure that out if I'd been able to get some decent coffee. Or even some Tazo Tea.)

I decided to go for broke.

How many other opportunities would I have, in ANY time stream, to talk, face to face, with Dan Blocker and Michael Landon?? (The novelty of meeting Mitch Vogel had long since passed.)

So - I straightened up, took a deep breath, and pushed my way through the swinging doors of the BUCKET O' BLOOD Saloon!

Only to be confronted with yet ANOTHER mind-boggling surprise - there was a FOURTH person, sitting at the table with Dan, Mitch and Michael - and it was none other than -


( ** When Michael Landon was honored on DEAN MARTIN'S CELEBRITY ROAST in the 1970s, Lorne Greene said that on Michael's first day on the set of BONANZA, he looked at the Ponderosa and said, "One day all this will be mine." Then, quipped Greene, "he loosened the brakes on my car!")

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Part 8. A Saloon!

( *** The Story So Far - I've traveled from 2015 to 1972 in order to view the filming of the historic episode, "Forever", only to wind up in an "alternate" time stream in which Michael Landon, not Dan Blocker, has died unexpectedly - and Pernell Roberts has just been arrested for Michael's murder!***)

Having found some available time to update this story, which I started wayyy back in the last decade (see previous chapter), I turned my full attention back to the story ... and was intrigued to note that after poor Lorne Greene had received the shocking news about Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker had quietly sidled out through an unmarked door, stage left - and Mitch "Jamie" Vogel had just snuck out via the same exit!

Hmm, I thought, what's that ugly redhead up to NOW? Since nobody had paid any attention to me during my entire visit, I had no trouble at all sneaking out the same door. The first thing I noticed was that there was a long, dark corridor on the other side.

And yes, it was a little spooky. But I consoled myself with the thought that if "Jamie" could do it, anyone could.

(By the way, in case I haven't made it clear, I'm not a big Mitch Vogel fan. Nothing personal. Just wanted to get that right out in the open!)

Anyway, the corridor wasn't really too long, and at the other end was another door, which led outside. And outside - was Virginia City! Yes, Bonanza fans, there it was in all its dusty glory - the dirty unpaved streets; the sidewalks made of creaky, dusty old boards; the false fronts, making all the buildings look like two-story skyscrapers.

And a saloon.

But not just ANY saloon, my friends! No, this was the Holy Grail for all true Bonanza fans - the (in)famous BUCKET O' BLOOD SALOON!!!

And I noticed the door of that saloon was swinging just a little bit - as though someone had recently gone inside.

Dan? Jamie?

Well, it was too late to chicken out now - I had to find out!

Before I pushed the door open, I stood for a moment to let my eyes adjust to the change in light, so I wouldn't be overwhelmed if it was dark inside.

And while I was waiting there, I heard a low murmur of voices.

I recognized two of them - the ugly redhead, and the adorable big guy.

But wait a minute - there was a third voice. With a high-pitched giggle which I'd heard at least a million times. Throughout three different TV series, and several "Tonight Show" appearances.

Could I be mistaken? Or was it really -

Michael Landon himself????

And if it was - then why was everyone convinced that he was dead?

And if he wasn't dead, why had Pernell Roberts been accused of his murder?

And - most importantly - would I EVER be able to find a cup of coffee in the year 1972 which even remotely compared with my regular daily dose of Starbucks Cafe Latte - Venti? 'Cause the Winchell's just AIN'T cuttin' it!!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Part 7. A Sigh!

(The story so far: I've traveled back in time, from 2015 to 1972, only to find that I've somehow stumbled into an alternate past, where Pernell Roberts has just been arrested for the murder of Michael Landon! Wowsers!)

With a sigh, I turned my attention from my still-to-be-continued story about the alternate time stream in which Pernell Roberts had just been arrested for the murder of Michael Landon, while Dan Blocker beat a highly suspicious retreat out the side door of the studio, leaving poor alternate-universe Lorne Greene in shock over this highly revoltin' development, to the fact that my 2012 self had failed to update said story since 2009.

It wasn't for lack of time. And it wasn't just because the website for which I'd started the story, "",

seemed to have vanished from the scene, like so many other websites since the bubble burst just a few years ago.

Part of it, of course, was that I had been married in 2007, and what with a cute hubby to call my own,

my attention had shifted from the make-believe Ponderosa guys to my real-life sweetie.

But even the best of marriages has its slow spots, and since this was one of them, I decided to see if I had anything new to say. And since my new boss's NetMeeting

had just fizzled due to a bad phone connection, I had some time to kill. I pulled up the story from my archives and got to work.

"Hey," I mused as I watched Mitch "Jamie" Vogel sidle out the same door where Dan Blocker had just exited, "What's that crazy redhead up to NOW??


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Part 6. A Note!

(The story so far: I've traveled back in time, from 2015 to 1972, only to find that I've somehow stumbled into an alternate past, where the Bonanza star who's just died was Michael Landon, not Dan Blocker; and Lorne Greene was just about to make a surprise announcement!)

"I'm so pleased to announce," said Mr. Greene happily, "that after long discussions and negotiations with the writers, with the network, and with Mr. David Dortort, our special guest star for next week's episode will be - PERNELL ROBERTS!"
A shocked chorus of gasps arose from the cast and crew, then scattered applause and a few boos.

"Yes," Mr. Greene continued, ignoring the boos, "I knew you'd all be just as pleased as I was! Most of you don't know this, but Pernell and I have remained close, close friends since he left the series, and after Michael's unfortunate demise" - (he paused to wipe away a tear) - "he phoned and asked if there was anything he could do to help us out. Well, one thing led to another and ..."

Just at that moment, a man wearing a multicolored leisure shirt and a colorful shirt opened to an obscenely hairy chest (this was 1972, remember) strode into the room and walked up to Mr. Greene, waving his hands and making "shushing" noises. He handed Mr. Greene a note and whispered something in his ear, then shrugged his shoulders and walked out.

Poor Mr. Greene looked shell-shocked. He opened the note, which I could see from here was handwritten and only a few short lines (kinda like the Third Secret of Fatima, for you Catholics in the crowd).

He looked up, and all the joy had gone out of his face. I would have run over and hugged him, if it weren't for all the security guys.

"I -- I regret to say -- "

He couldn't finish, and walked away, dropping the note on the floor.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the ugly redhead, Mitch "Jamie" Vogel, eying the note, and it was pretty obvious what he was thinking.

But I beat him to it! Yes, that's right -- I didn't get the tear-stained photo of Dan Blocker (or Michael Landon).

However, I DID get the tear-stained, handwritten note from Pernell Roberts to Lorne Greene! Which read as follows, verbatim:

"Dear Lorne,

I'm sorry, I won't be able to do the show after all, as I've just been arrested for Michael Landon's murder.

I didn't do it -- honest!
Can you get me a good lawyer?

Love and kisses,

Wow! Now THIS just might be of some value, even back in good old 2015!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Part 5. Ben's Secret

(The story so far - from my local TimeRiver, Inc. (right next door to my local Starbucks), I had traveled back from 2015 to 1972, right smack dab on the day that the famous scene from "Forever" had been filmed, in which Michael Landon and Lorne Greene had wordlessly clung to each other, sobbing, presumably over the death of "Alice", "Little Joe's" bride in the episode - but really over the death of Dan "Hoss" Blocker; and my goal was to grab the famous tear-stained photo of Mr. Blocker before Mitch Vogel could get his hands on it. However, through the kind of glitch you could only get from a franchised time travel organization, I'd apparently stumbled into an alternate past, in which Michael Landon, NOT Dan Blocker, had died unexpectedly! Got it? Good!)

Well, it had certainly been an interesting little trip back in time! I would definitely have had grounds for a nice juicy little lawsuit against TimeRiver, if I hadn't signed that pesky contract releasing them from all liability in case of flood, fire, capital punishment or accidentally landing in an alternate past.

Oh well, as I said, it had at least been interesting.

I had talked Mitch "Jamie" Vogel into letting me tag along as his "gofer" so I could watch the filming of several scenes from the famous episode, "Forever", starring Dan Blocker in the script expressly written for his character, Hoss, by the way-too-soon-late Michael Landon.

And I'm happy to report that Dan was every bit as wonderful in the script as we'd always suspected he would be. There was one scene where he blundered into Alice's dress shop, looking just adorable as he tried not to look at the ladies' frilly underthings hanging from the walls. His grief at losing his beloved wife of only a few months was truly heartrending.

And of course, knowing that he and Lorne were weeping over Michael's death - rather than Lorne and Michael weeping over Dan's death, as had actually happened in my ORIGINAL time stream - just made everything that much more poignant.

Aand, yes, weird. Definitely weird. But poignant, nonetheless!

I'd decided to give up on acquiring the tear-stained photo, which in this time stream had been Michael Landon's picture, wept over by Lorne Greene and Dan Blocker. What would be the point, in my time stream, of a tear-stained photo of Michael Landon? Very few people, other than the folks on the Bonanza Board, who believed everything I said, would take my story seriously.

And it would have very limited value on the online auction market (particularly given the spectacular crash of eBay back in 2013, when, after years of total mismanagement (as predicted in my husband's vastly underrated blog, it completely went under, fake saints' relics and all).

Although, in retrospect, I suppose I could have gotten DNA samples from Dan's tears, sold them to Clones 'R Us and gotten a "Hoss" of my very own.

Oh well, hindsight is 20/20!

So - with regret - I abandoned my initial goal and allowed the ugly teenage redhead, Mitch Vogel, to snag the photo, as originally intended by God, or fate, or whatever you wanted to call it.

Let him enjoy it, I thought magnanimously - it'll comfort him when he's a has-been, five years from now.

But wouldn't you know - I was in for yet another surprise in this ever-increasingly-interesting time stream! Because at the end of the crying scene, the absolutely magnificent Lorne Greene stepped forward, cleared his throat and called, "May I have everyone's attention, please?"

The chatter of the cast and crew subsided, and Mr. Greene continued.

"I just want to thank all of you for your help and support during the filming of this difficult episode. As you all know, this was the last script that Michael had written before - " he paused, clearing his throat again and wiping away a tear " - before he was taken from us. I'm so glad we could do this final tribute to him."

A polite round of applause from the bystanders - and me! In fact, I kept clapping a few seconds after everyone else stopped, and turned almost as red as Mitch's hair when everyone turned to look at me.

"Sorry," I whispered.

"Right," said Mr. Greene, deciding to ignore me. "Now - I have an announcement to make. And I want to warn you in advance, this will come as a REAL surprise to almost everyone here!"

I perked up my ears. A surprise? I didn't remember reading about Lorne Greene making a surprise announcement in the original time stream!

What was "Ben's" secret?

Mr. Greene waited for the murmur of excited voices to subside, and continued.

"Hold onto your hats, everyone - but the guest star in our next episode will be ---"


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Part 4. Two Girls Too Many!

(The story so far: Thanks to a new company called "TimeRiver, Inc." (located right next door to my local Starbucks), I've traveled back in time, from 2015 to 1972, in hopes of grabbing the famous photo of Dan Blocker, stained with the tears of Lorne Greene and Michael Landon as they were filming a crucial scene in "Forever" - only to find that I've somehow stumbled into an alternate past, where the Bonanza star who's just died was Michael Landon, not Dan Blocker!)

I couldn't believe it! I had actually become one of the 0.01% of TimeRiver clients who had wound up in an alternate time stream!

But of course, I should have known, as soon as I saw that big sign that said "Paramount Studios". Because, as every TRUE Bonanza fan knows, in 1972, the show was being filmed at Warner Brothers, NOT Paramount!

(Where, only a couple of years later, a guy named Mel Brooks would film a hysterically funny movie called "Blazing Saddles", starring, among others, the not-yet-late-by-many-years-thank-God Dom Deluise!)

That should have been my first hint that something was wrong.

Oh well, I consoled myself, it'll make for a great thread on the Bonanza board, when I get back.

Meanwhile, why not hang around and see how this alternate future played out?

After all, TimeRiver had promised that, no matter where I landed - even if I wound up in the wrong place - I'd automatically be returned home 48 hours from when I left.

So I might as well hang around for a while and see how this played out.

After all, think about it for a second: I was about to see something that future "Bonanza" fans had scarcely dared to imagine - Dan Blocker actually acting in the episode that had been written just for him!

And even more wild: I'd also see the beginning of a future in which Michael Landon died in 1972, rather than 1991.

Think about that. REALLY think about it!

On the plus side: no blow-dried angel touching hearts and souls in Malibu --

-- which almost certainly means no blow-dried angels touching anyone else, later on!

On the negative side: no snotty yet hilarious Nellie Oleson - my fave!

Plus: No brave, inspirational, yet ultimately losing battle with cancer.

Negative: No jokes on Carson impugning Hop Sing's masculinity.

Plus: No untalented twins playing "Carrie" on "Little House" (sorry, but those gals couldn't act their way out of a paper bag, in my humble opinion - two girls too many in that role!).

So there were obviously pros as well as cons to this situation!

Still, one thing was clear: I was just a few hours away from seeing what no Bonanza fan had seen before: "Ben" and "Hoss" weeping over the death of -- "Little Joe"!

And alternate past or NO alternate past, no bratty redheaded actor was going to keep me from seeing this!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Part 3: A Persistent Fly

(The story so far: I’ve just traveled from 2012 to 1972 in hopes of keeping a legendary Bonanza photograph from falling into the wrong hands – namely, those of ugly redhead Mitch Vogel, who’s just apparently mistaken me for his gofer!)

"Doughuts?" I said stupidly.

Then I remembered – TimeRiver always went ahead (or behind) and arranged some menial job for you, so you'd blend in better. The blonde bimbo had just forgotten to tell me – apparently my menial job was being Mitch Vogel's "gofer".

A dream come true, I thought sourly.

"Sorry, Mitch – er," I amended quickly, seeing a slight frown cross his freckles, "Mr. Vogel – " (the frown disappeared, replaced by a smirk, which didn't help the freckles much) – "I, er, I'm new here and wasn't sure exactly what you wanted."

He rolled his eyes and sighed, then pointed towards the big glass doors at the entrance. "Go straight out on Melrose, two blocks down to the Winchell's on the corner. You can't miss it," he added sarcastically as I plowed through the doors, "there's a big sign that says "DONUTS" over the door."

"I love this job already," I snarled back at him, in my best world-weary gofer voice, and was relieved to hear him laugh. You just gotta know how to deal with these celebrities. Trust me, they were no different in 1972 than they are in 2012. They love being surrounded by people who pretend to be their equals – even though both of you know that you are nothing more than a pesky, persistent fly.

I got a dozen glazed doughnuts, at 1972 prices, wow! – and, fighting a persistent fly, toted them back to Mr. Vogel, who accepted them graciously and gave me a tip. "Wow, a whole buck," I muttered, rolling my eyes. "Now I can pay off my Starbucks Duetto™ VISA card."

He turned and stared at me. "Your WHAT?"

Oops, I thought. "Nothing, nothing. So anyway, what's on the schedule today, after the doughnuts?"

Still eyeing me suspiciously, His Redness popped a glazed ring into his mouth and, with his mouth full, answered, "We'mph gonna phumph the bug crun shun."

"I beg your pardon?" Now it was my turn to stare. He gulped down the rest of the doughnut, almost choking (sorry, Jamie-haters, but he survived - in THIS timeline, anyway), and repeated, "We're going to film the big crying scene."

"Oh, yeah," I exclaimed, trying to look appropriately respectful. "That should be really sad, huh?"

"Yeah," said Mitch, looking equally pensive. "I still can't believe he's gone."

I shook my head. "Yeah, it's gonna be tough without Dan, huh?"

The suspicious look came back. "Without Dan?" he growled. "What planet have you been on?"

"I – I'm sorry," I stammered. "I've been out of the country – maybe I heard wrong – but didn't Dan Blocker die last week?"

He shook his head, grabbing another doughnut, and walked away. "Not Dan," he called backwards, obviously wanting to get as far away from me as possible. "Mike. Michael Landon. HE'S the one that died, not Dan!"


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Part 2: Hide and Seek!

(The story so far: It's the year 2015, and I'm getting ready to travel back in time to keep a legendary Bonanza photograph from falling into the wrong hands!)

At 7:45 a.m., after reporting to my neighborhood Starbucks for a nonfat Latte, I reported to my neighborhood "TimeRiver" for my trip back to the week of July 12, 1972 - where I planned to grab the famous tear-stained photo of Dan Blocker from Mitch "Jamie" Vogel's hot little hands!

What I would do with it once I got it home, I hadn't quite worked out. Frame it and put it in a sacred place in my apartment, to love and cherish for the rest of my natural life? Yeah, maybe. Or maybe I'd sell it on Tel-Bay, that hot new service that took bids by mental telepathy. It'd be nice to get the cash as quickly as possible, so I could see "Vanity Fair IV: Becky's Revenge", starring Dame Reese Witherspoon, next weekend.

The bimbo at TimeRiver's front desk gave me one last sheaf of papers to sign, with all the usual legalese about how I promised not to sue TimeRiver or any of their affiliates if anything unforeseeable happened (like if I wound up on the set of Gunsmoke, instead of Bonanza). And I also had to swear that I wouldn't warn anyone in the past about the horrors of the future, like 9/11, or President Chas Bono.

After signing all the papers and leaving my valuables in a storage locker, the receptionist took me into the "projection room," a little room about the size of a closet (or my apartment, nyuk nyuk). "Wait here," she instructed me, then vanished.

I waited about five minutes, stifling a few yawns, but nothing seemed to be happening. "Hello?" I called out. No answer.

I didn't really feel like playing "Hide-and-Seek" with a bimbo today. I fumed to myself for a few more minutes, then got up and opened the door, fully prepared to stomp out and demand my money back so I could get a cappucino instead.

But when I opened the door - I realized that something had changed.

The big blue-and-yellow "TimeRiver" sign in the lobby was gone.

Instead, there was a big blue-and-white sign which read, "Paramount Studios".

And a gangly red-headed teenager was leaning against the empty receptionist's desk.

Mitch Vogel! I'd know that ugly red hair and freckles anywhere!

He looked up and smiled as I walked towards him. "Hey," he greeted me. "Got my doughnuts?"