Monday, September 12, 2011

Jay Livingston and Ray Evans

We chased lady luck, 'til we finally struck 
With a gun and a rope and a hat full of hope
Planted a family tree. 
We got hold of a pot of gold
With a horse and a saddle, and a range full of cattle
How rich can a fellow be?
On this land we put our brand
Cartwright is the name
Fortune smiled the day we filed
The Ponderosa claim.
Here in the West, we're livin' the best
If anyone fights any one of us
He's got a fight with me!
The NBC television series "Bonanza" premiered on this date in 1959.  The show lasted 14 seasons and 430, making it the second-longest running Western series of all time (after "Gunsmoke").

The television show's theme song was always instrumental, but Lorne Greene recorded a version of it with lyrics in 1964.  Johnny Cash recorded a version with different lyrics.

Jay Livingston wrote the music and Ray Evans the words for the "Bonanza" theme.  They also wrote the "Mr. Ed" theme song and won three Oscars for best original song -- the third was for "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)," which Doris Day sang in Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956).

"Bonanza" initially aired on Saturday nights, and did very poorly in the ratings.  Because it was one of the very first television series to be broadcast in color, NBC's parent company, RCA, wanted it to succeed in order to promote sales of its color television sets.  The show was moved to Sunday nights, and within a few years it was the #1 rated television series.  It held on to the #1 spot for three seasons, and was ranked in the top five for nine consecutive seasons.

I remember watching "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" and "Bonanza" on my grandparents' new RCA color TV when I was a child.  My grandmother let me eat my favorite Sunday night dinner -- scrambled eggs, toast with grape jelly, and a chocolate malt -- while watching TV in her living room.

No comments:

Post a Comment