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Title Card - PONDEROSA

PAX Network
2001 - 2002
60 Minutes

Set in 1849, this was the story of Ben Cartwright (Daniel Hugh Kelly), a thirty-five- year-old  widower as he struggles to establish a ranch (The Ponderosa) in Eagle Station, Nevada near Lake Tahoe, with the help of his three young sons.

The Cartwright sons included:.

  • Matt Carmody as Adam Cartwright, the oldest son. He learned how to shoot a gun from Joaquin, a famous outlaw. Adam was asked to write the true story of the Donner Party by a man's adopted son who allegedly survived the ordeal.
  • Drew Powell as Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright, the middle son. He challenged "Iron Hands" Malloy to a boxing match. During a drought, Hoss fell in love with Judith, the daughter of a rainmaker who came to town.
  • Jared Daperis as Little Joe Cartwright, the youngest son. His French mother called him "petite" thus his "Little" moniker. When his mother was killed, although just a boy, he set out to find her killer.



Friends and acquaintances of the family included:

  • Brad Dourif as Maurice "Frenchy" Devereaux, the owner of the Eagle Statin Livery and a town council member.
  • Josephine Byrnes as Margaret Green, Tess' mother. She owns the nearby Green Valley Ranch.
  • Fernando Carrillo as Carlos Rivera de Vega, one of the first ranch hands Ben hired for the Ponderosa. He is later killed by a robber working for Manuel, a former friend. Before fighting in the war, Carlos had a ranchero on the  very land now occupied by the Green Family.
  • Sara Gleeson as Tess Greene, a local girl who is interested in Adam Cartwright. Her father was killed in the Mexican-American war. Tess once considered marrying Hoss when they found an abandoned baby who needed a home.
  • Nicky Wendt as Shelby Sterritt, a frontier woman who  owns the local saloon and restaurant.
  • Gareth Yuen as Hop Sing, an Asian slave whom Ben found working to pay off  a $25.00 debt for a vicious woman. Ben pain his debt and Hop Sing moved to the Ponderosa to work as a cook.
  • Jaqueline Aries/Marcella Toro as Isabella Maria Rivera de Vega. Carlos' long lost eighteen-year-old sister who comes to live on the Ponderosa. She and her brother were separated during the Mexican-American War. Isabella has feelings for Adam.
  • Bruce Dickinson as Big Dan Larsen, a former trapper and mountain man with long hair, buckskin clothes and a rifle who worked as a handyman at Eagle Station.
  • Abbe Holmes Ruth Orwitz, a local storekeeper.
  • Jim Knobeloch as Jack Wolf, the sinister owner of a local saloon, hotel and brothel.
  • Don Halbert as Jack Roberts, a gambler.

TRIVIA NOTE: Based on the characters on the NBC western series BONANZA, this prequel series follow the early years of the Cartwright family as they begin to build their ranching empire.

On the original series, Little Joe' mother Maria (Ben's third wife) dies from a fall from a horse. In this prequel, Joe's mother (called Felicia)  dies from an explosion set by a prospector in Virginia City who sought to kill her husband, Ben.

Another change was Eric's nickname Hoss. In the original series, he was nicknamed Hoss by his Swedish mother. It was a mountain expression for a "big friendly man." On the prequel series, Eric's mother dubbed him "Hoss" after Joe's new horse bit Eric on the behind..

Also, on the original series Little Joe was born at the ranch, while according to prequel Little Joe was around eleven years old when Ben Cartwright acquired his ranch..

Other items of trivia regarding the names oh the series:  Lorne Greene (The Green Valley Ranch); 'Big Dan' Larson (Dan Blocker), Ruth Orowitz (Eugene Orowitz,  Michael Landon's real name), and Jack Roberts (Pernell Roberts).

The series was filmed in Daylesford, Victoria, Australia, and produced for Associated Television International and Paxson Entertainment for PAX-TV (renamed  ION (as in "TelevisION").

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