Bonanza’ Star Lorne Greene Had His Own Ponderosa Replica Ranch


By Clayton Edwards

Bonanza ran for fourteen seasons. Throughout the show’s run, Lorne Greene portrayed Ben Cartwright, the patriarch of his family and owner of the Ponderosa Ranch. They worked almost constantly on the show. So, it’s no surprise that it and the homestead became integral parts of the late actor’s life.

So, when it was time for the Bonanza star to have a home built, Greene decided to recreate his Virginia City home from the series. That led to the construction of Ponderosa II in Mesa, Arizona. The house is an almost perfect replica of the ranch house on the Ponderosa in the series.

Currently, some huge Bonanza fans own and maintain the home. Luckily, we can check it out through the power of the internet.

Bonanza Star’s Replica Home

Ponderosa II is a shrine to Bonanza. It is packed with nods to the show as well as actual props both inside and out. The home is registered as a historic site by the city of Mesa, Arizona. Let’s take a look at what makes the house so special.

The Exterior of Ponderosa II

The first thing that will catch the eye of Bonanza fans is the exterior of Ponderosa II. It looks just like the Cartwright home. The outer walls are made from real logs. Stepping into the front yard of the Mesa, AZ home is like walking on to the set of the classic western.

Before entering the front gate, there are two notable things. First, there is a plaque bearing Lorne Greene’s face. It also explains the home’s significance and its connection to Bonanza. Then, there is the American flag waving from a pole just in front of the house. That flag bears thirty-four stars. This would have been accurate for the time in which the show was set.

The Interior – An Ode to Bonanza

Stepping through the front door of the house is the closest you’ll ever come to visiting the set of Bonanza. The front room of the home is an exact replica of the house on the Ponderosa Ranch. The fireplace and stairway are almost identical to what fans of the show saw every week. In fact, the home is so close to the Cartwrights’ home that Lorne Greene had to get permission from the studio to have it built. He even enlisted set designers from the show to help him make it more authentic.

One big difference is that the stairs don’t lead to the home’s bedrooms. Ponderosa II is a one-story house. So, the stairs lead to the attic. However, they designed the stairs to get gradually smaller as they go up. The door is also small. This gives the illusion of a much higher staircase.

The front room of the house also has some other nods to Bonanza. Some of the furniture there is straight from the set of the classic western. The most impressive piece, though, is Ben Cartwright’s desk which is tucked away in a comfortable alcove. There are other pieces of memorabilia from the show as well. For instance, screen-used hats and one of Ben’s vests hang from pegs in the home.

The dining room is also an exact replica of the Bonanza set. They really paid attention to detail here as well. In fact, the dining room features the same tea set and dining table used by the Cartwrights.

In many places in Ponderosa II, you can see still photos from the show. For the most part, they are to show how accurate the setup of the house is.




‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Where Did Ron Howard’s Character’s Name ‘Opie’ Come From?


By Katie Maloney

How did Opie from The Andy Griffith Show get his name? Here are two theories on which real-life people Opie was named after.

Opie Taylor, played by Ron Howard, on The Andy Griffith Show was America’s favorite redheaded child actor. Fans of the show all wished they could live in the town of Mayberry and befriend Opie and his father Sheriff Andy Taylor.

Unfortunately, the show was just that – a fictional show. Nevertheless, the town and some of its characters may have been based on real-life places and people, including Opie. Certainly, “Opie” is a unique name. And although you probably haven’t met a whole lot of Opies, The Andy Griffith Show character isn’t the only one to ever exist. In fact, there are two men, also named Opie, that fans believe Ron Howard‘s character may have been named after.

First, there’s Opal “Opie” Taft Cates. Cates was a famous bandleader and actor who played the clarinet for a swing band in Arkansas. Cates starred on the radio program Meet Me at Parky’s which was set in a restaurant and aired from 1945–48. Sheldon Leonard, who produced The Andy Griffith Show, was also an actor on the show with Cates. Some believe Leonard suggested Opie for Ron Howard’s character after befriending Cates.

However, there’s a second theory as to how Opie got his name. During an interview, Opie Shelton, a childhood friend of Andy Griffith, claimed that Opie was named after him. Maybe the inspiration behind the name was a combination of both?

Opie wasn’t known for his aggressive nature. In fact, even when his father thought Opie was naive or up to no good, he always quickly discovered that Opie was both generous and kindhearted.

During one episode, Opie accidentally killed a mother bird with his slingshot. Andy sat Opie down and talked to him about the mother bird’s three baby birdies that were left without a mother. Andy even opened the window so that Opie could hear the orphaned birds’ little chirps. Feeling terrible, Opie decided to nurse the baby birds until they were old and healthy enough to fly out on their own. What’s sweeter than that?

It’s hard to believe that such a sweet kid could have some Viking blood in him. Yes, we know Opie a fictional character, so technically that’s not possible. Nevertheless, the name “Opie” actually comes from the Viking Ages. A reporter once traced the etymology of the name Opie. Turns out that “Opie” can be traced back to the old Viking name “Asbjorn” which meant “God bear.” The nickname of Asbjorn evolved from “Asbie” to “Obby” to “Oppy” to “Opie.” Opie could mean “Son of Asbjorn.”

‘Gunsmoke’: What Was James Arness’ Job Before Hitting It Big in Hollywood?


By Thad Mitchell

One of the most popular television shows to ever air on television, Gunsmoke ran from 1955 to 1975. The show is the longest-running, primetime, live-action series of the 20th century.

The show takes place in Dodge City, Kansas, where lawman Matt Dillon enforces his own brand of justice. Dillon is the show’s central character and is portrayed by actor James Arness. At 6’7″ Arness was an imposing figure as Matt Dillon and he ran a tight ship in Dodge City, despite the best efforts of local criminals.

Arness portrayed Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke for 20 years and has played the role in five different decades. The tall actor was a big reason for the show’s success as he gave life to the lead character and played the role with toughness. In addition to the long-running television program, Arness played Dillon in several made-for-tv Gunsmoke movies, including 1987’s Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge.

‘Gunsmoke’ Actor Served Country Before Hollywood

Before taking on the role of Matt Dillon, Arness served his country in battle as a rifleman in World War II. The future actor joined the military after high school and became a rifleman with the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division. He was severely wounded in battle in 1944 in Anzio, Italy. He underwent several surgeries before being honorably discharged in 1945. For his efforts in fighting for his country during the war, he awarded a Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

After leaving the military, he found work as a radio announcer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for a while. He then made his way to Hollywood where his acting career really took off. He got his first film role in “The Farmer’s Daughter,” a 1947 film starring Loretta Young. It would be a couple of years later before he got his big break with Gunsmoke in 1955.

In addition to his work in western-themed programs, Arness also starred in a couple of science fiction films. He appeared in Them! and The Thing From Another World. He played The Thing in the latter film.

After his run on Gunsmoke ended, Arness continued to play western-type characters in several films. He passed away in Los Angeles in 2011 at 88-years-old.

B.J. Thomas Diagnosed With Stage 4 Lung Cancer


Thomas, whose career has spanned a number of genres over half a century, is receiving treatment in Texas, according to his representative. Thomas, 78, has logged 26 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 from 1966 through 1983 and achieved No. 1 singles across the Hot 100, Hot Country Songs and Adult Contemporary charts.


Kim Tyler, Child Star on 'Please Don't Eat the Daisies,' Dead at 66


Rest in peace, Kim Tyler. The former child actor died on Feb. 10 after a long battle with cancer, per an obituary. He was 66. Tyler was best known for his role as Kyle Nash on the 1960s comedy TV series Please Don't Eat the Daisies. Tyler starred as the oldest of four sons in the Nash family. Patricia Crowley and Mark Miller played parents raising their boys, along with an Old English Sheepdog, in upstate New York. The NBC comedy -- based on Jean Kerr's best-selling 1957 book -- ran from 1965 to 1967.

Henry Darrow Dies


 Henry Darrow Dies: ‘The High Chaparral’, Emmy-Winning ‘Santa Barbara’ Actor Was 87

Henry Darrow, a prolific TV actor from the 1950s through the early 2000s who found his breakthrough success as Manolito Montoya, son of a wealthy Mexican ranch owner on NBC’s hit 1967-71 Western The High Chaparral, died Sunday at his home in Wilmington, NC. He was 87.