The Map No Longer Burns. The Creator-Producer of One of the Most Popular Shows in TV History (with one of the best remembered theme songs ever on TV), Dies

Sep 8, 2010  •  Post A Comment

David Dortort, the creator and producer of one of the most popular series ever to air on TV, has died at age 93, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The series, "Bonanza," debuted on NBC in 1959 as the first prime-time western to be broadcast in color, helping to spur consumer demand for color television sets, the story says. The show starred Lorne Greene as the patriarch of the Ponderosa Ranch, with his three sons played by Michael Landon, Dan Blocker and Pernell Roberts.

Dortort died in his sleep Sunday, September 5, 2010, at his home in Westwood, California, the article says.

"Bonanza," which remained on air for 14 seasons, was one of TV’s top-rated shows throughout the 1960s and continues to draw audiences in syndication, the story says. Dortort also created and produced NBC’s grittier western "The High Chaparral," which aired from 1967 to 1971.

After starting out as a novelist and then learning how to write screenplays, Dortort moved into television and wrote three episodes of the NBC and ABC anthology series "Fireside Theatre," the article says.

One of the stories he wrote, about the discovery of gold and silver in Nevada, inspired "Bonanza," the story adds. The show’s success, however, was due to focus on family values, Dortort often said. ""At a time when the dysfunctional family was becoming a current way of life in this country, this was a functional family," he said in a 2001 interview with the Los Angeles Times.

And now, it’s time to crank up the volume as you play the following video: the theme from "Bonanza":


  1. It was with deep regret that I learned of the death of Mr David Dortort
    Throughout most of my life (since I was 6) Bonanza has played an important part.
    It was a favourite of my father and he and I used to love to watch together
    As I grew up, so did my favourite character, Joe, and by the time I was getting married, so was he.
    After the series ended, we very rarely saw it here in the UK, but whenever it was on TV, I tuned in.
    And later, I was really pleased to discover Bonanza on the internet
    I have made many really close friends through the show and have travelled to the USA, several times, to visit Lake Tahoe and all because of a wonderful man, Mr David Dortort
    Thank you Mr Dortort, may you rest in peace
    Little Joe forever

  2. The map burns forever in our hearts.

  3. That fire will burn forever in our hearts. David Dortort was a man of great vision who brought people from around the world together on the Ponderosa, finding harmony in the values of faith, family and friendship. “Mr. D” was always so gracious and generous to his fans … As he is laid to rest on the 51st anniversary of ‘Bonanza,’ we extend our sincere appreciation to him, and our loving sympathy to his family.

  4. The map is permanently burned in my heart and mind. Mr. Dortort created one of the best shows in television history and I appreciate the legacy he left
    My sincere condolences go out to his family.

  5. How sad to hear of Mr. Dortort’s passing.
    Bonanza was my favourite TV show growing up, and it still IS my favourite show of all time. My favourite was Adam, but the better opening was the one of them riding down that long, sweeping
    ( Bourne’s) meadow, with the mountains in the background, used in seasons 3 thru 6. That clip is available on YouTube.
    May Mr. Dortort now join the four dear members of the “Cartwright family” who predeceased him, and forever ride the trails of the Ponderosa with them ! Love, Jane

  6. I had the pleasure of meeting David and getting to know him on a personal level. He was a wonderful man and friend. Rose and David opened not only their home to me but their hearts. Their memories will always be a part of me. Say hello to Rose and the boys for me, David.

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