‘Bonanza’ Creator David Dortort Dies at 93

Western fixture also produced “The High Chaparral” and “The Restless Gun”

“Bonanza” creator David Dortort has died. He was 93.

Though he scored other broadcast triumphs, Dortort will be best known for the wholesome western he helped craft. From 1959-73, “Bonanza” dramatized the Cartwright family and its adventures maintaining its thousand acre Ponderosa ranch. Today the NBC drama is perhaps best known for its memorable, propulsive theme song, but from 1964-67 it was the most-watched show on television.

In the later years of the series, Dortort turned his attention to creating another family centric western "The High Chaparral." Set on a ranch in Arizona territory, “Chaparral” aired after “Bonanza” on Sunday nights and ran from 1967-71.

Dortort never replicated the success he had with "Bonanza," but the cowboy genre was the source of most of his professional successes. Other horse operas produced by Dortort included "The Restless Gun" (1957-1959) and "The Cowboys "(1974).

He also returned to the ranch, so to speak, with as executive producer of "Bonanza: The Return"(1993), and as a consultant on a 2001 prequel featuring younger versions of the Bonanza characters called "Ponderosa."

In a career that spanned decades, Dortort was nominated for three Emmys and served as president of the Producers Guild of America.