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Benjamin "Ben" Cartwright
Lorne Greene as Benjamin Cartwright on NBC-TV's "Bonanza".
Biographical information
Full Name: Benjamin Cartwright
Occupation: Sailor, Business man, Rancher and protector
Gender: Male
Race/Ethnicity: American
Hair color: Black/Gray/White
Eye color: Brown
Born: 1811
Family/Relatives: Abel Morgan Stoddard (father-in-law)

John Cartwright† - brother
Arron Cartwright - brother
Gunnar Borgstrom† - brother-in-law
Will Cartwright - nephew

Spouse Elizabeth Cartwright

Inger Cartwright
Marie Cartwright

Romances/Domestic Partners:
Children: Adam Cartwright (son)

Hoss Cartwright (son)
Joseph Cartwright (son)
Clay Stafford (step-son)
Jamie Hunter (adopted son)
Alice Cartwright† (daughter-in-law)

Appeared on:
First Episode: A Rose for Lotta (Series Pilot)
Last Episode: "The Hunter" (Series finale)
Portrayed by: Lorne Greene

Benjamin "Ben" Cartwright is one of the main protagonists of Bonanza. When he was young, he was a sailor with a dream to go West and earn his living in the wild. The God-fearing, Bible-quoting, and logically-minded gentleman built up his dreams on his ranch, the Ponderosa, with three wives behind and his future with his boys before him. Ruling his 600,000 acres of prime timber with the force of his gun and the love of his land, Ben watched the land around him prosper and towns build up before his very eyes. Having no regrets, Ben faced each new day with his strength from the last and his will to succeed.

Life Before Heading West[]

Cartwright was originally the first mate aboard the ship of his first father-in-law who lived on the East Coast of the United States, presumably New England. He married Elizabeth Stoddard, daughter of Abel Morgan Stoddard, a sea captain. Elizabeth gave birth to his first son, Adam, but died in childbirth just hours after Adam's birth. While heading west, Ben was married to Inger, a native of Sweden. She was the mother of Ben's second son, Eric, who was nicknamed "Hoss" from birth. Weeks after, during a Native American attack, Inger was shot by an arrow while trying to defend the group by taking a dead man's gun and shooting. When Adam was at least twelve and Hoss was around six years old, Ben married Marie, a French American from New Orleans. Marie gave birth to their third and final son, Joseph, who was known as "Little Joe". Marie, however, was killed in a horse accident when Little Joe was less than five years old.

Life on the Ponderosa[]

Ben resides on the Ponderosa, a cumbersome ranch in Nevada, near Lake Tahoe with his three sons, and a Chinese immigrant cook Hop Sing. He is shown to be a man who is honest, strict with his sons, sympathetic, and somewhat wealthy. He is also portrayed as a man who is good at fist-fighting, disarming gunslingers and knocking them into unconsciousness with little effort.

Personal life[]

Ben had three wives: Elizabeth (née Stoddard), Inger (née Borgstrom) and Marie (née DeMarigny). None of the three wives were around long enough to see their children grow up: Elizabeth died in childbirth, Inger Borgstrom was shot by an Indian with an arrow when Hoss was only a few weeks old, and Marie fell off of a horse and was killed when Joe was only five.

In 1874, six years after Adam's departure, Ben adopts 14-year-old orphan Jamie Hunter, who came to live with the Cartwrights one year earlier.

Ben Cartwright was played by a Canadian actor, who's Canadian culture, background and socialization formed the basis of Ben's on-screen personality.


See Appearances by Ben Cartwright
Gallery of Ben Cartwright