May 1, 2020

If you’re a baby boomer like me, there’s something strangely familiar and comfortable about the Zoom teleconferencing platform. Let’s face it, at some point didn’t we all envision ourselves as part of that Brady Bunch?

In most of my Zoom conferences, I seem to always get seated in the Carol Brady spot.

Here’s a little Brady Bunch trivia, courtesy of IMDb:

Even though Greg dated a lot, we never actually see him kiss anyone of the dates he went out with. The only Brady kid that had a kissing scene was Bobby, kissing Melissa Sue Anderson in The Brady Bunch: Never Too Young (1973).

Show creator Sherwood Schwartz originally wanted Gene Hackman for the role of Mike Brady, but Hackman wasn’t considered well-known enough at the time.

The family dog “Tiger” was killed by a car in season one of the show before the filming of episode five was completed. A replacement dog proved to be unworkable. Tiger’s doghouse remained on the set, though, because one of the studio lights fell and burned a hole through the astroturf, and the doghouse was used to hide the burned spot.

When Florence Henderson arrived to do her screen test, there was no one on staff to do her make-up, so she went over to the adjoining studio where Star Trek: The Original Series (1966) was filmed, and she found herself seated in a make-up chair between William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, being made up for their day’s work on one of the last episodes of “Trek”. Henderson recalls that both actors completely ignored her.

Every day since September 1975 (the start of its syndication), an episode has aired somewhere in the world.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Pondering on the Ponderosa


The opening of Bonanza, which premiered in 1959 and ran for 14 seasons, was one of the most iconic images on TV. So much so that when we were filming our western (The DVA Kid) last year in Tucson, I had wanted to imitate the effect. 

If you recall, the screen filled with a old-timey map of the Ponderosa which then burst into a ring of fire, revealing the main cast riding towards the camera. After spending much of the night unsuccessfully trying to replicate the effect digitally, I finally decided to do a little research on how they actually accomplished the feat way back in the late 1950s. Turns out the answer was both simple and obvious.  They just lit their map on fire and let a hole burn in it while the cameras were rolling. Wish I had thought of that.

Here are some other factoids about my favorite TV western:

  • Producer David Dortort originally imagined Bonanza as an Old West reinvention of the King Arthur legend… with Ben Cartwright as Arthur and his sons as the knights of his round table.
  • Bonanza was the first series to have all its episodes broadcast in living color and as such carried the biggest price tag of any other show of its time.
  • Lorne Greene (Ben Cartwright) must have loved the set. He built a replica of the Ponderosa home on a half-acre of land in Mesa, AZ. It went on the market in 2016 valued at $849,000.
  • During the first season, the actors brought on to play guest roles on the show were paid more than the regular cast members. The producers didn’t think Green, Roberts, Blocker, and Landon were well known enough to draw in an audience on their own.
  • The show was almost cancelled early in its first season but as it was one of the few shows being broadcast in color and NBC was owned by RCA which was selling color tv sets to consumers, the decision was made to keep it on the air in the hopes it would spark sales. A move from Saturday night to Sunday night catapulted the show to #1 status.
  • The Ponderosa/Bonanza Steakhouses were inspired by the show and started by Dan Blocker who played Hoss.
  • The main characters wore the same outfits from episode to episode. This was a deliberate choice by producers so it would be easier to reuse stock footage when necessary, thereby lowering production costs.

In case you’ve forgotten, here are the opening titles and theme song to Bonanza:


And if you’ve missed it in the past, here’s the western we put together last summer with our opening credits:

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Trivial Pursuits

go to the head of the class.jpg

Flipping around the channels last night, we settled on Genius Junior. Have you seen this show? Kids, twelve and under, face off against each other to solve memory challenges. On the surface, they demonstrate some pretty amazing feats of brain power for any age.

I always considered myself to have been a bright kid but there was nothing like Genius Junior when I was growing up so I couldn’t test myself on national tv. Instead, we had the board game Go To The Head of The Class. And I’ll have you know I crushed anyone who dared challenge me at that game… which is why other kids stopped playing it with me. I must have been an obnoxious winner.

I’ve always enjoyed trivia. It is strange, because I was never a great history student while growing up. But give me a piece of useless information and that weird factoid I would store away for the opportunity to use it at a future date. Usually that opportunity never presented itself. That is… until the home computer came along.

I remember back before the Internet was the Internet, electronic bulletin boards were the growing rage. I would sit in front of my Commodore 64 computer and use my dial up modem to access a board that ran real time trivia games. The “host” would post a question and all participants who were on the board that night would have to type the correct response before the “host” called time. Modem speeds being what they were back then, players could have anywhere from 5 to 15 seconds to form their answer, depending on what kind of equipment the host was working with.

I wasted many a night in front of that Commodore – just me and my computer where the only sound that I heard all night long was this:


Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.