Bonanza Wiki
Bonanza episode
“The Magnificent Adah”
Season 1, Episode 10
#10 in Series
Air date November 14, 1959
Production code
Guest starring:
Written by Donald S. Sanford
Directed by Christian Nyby
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
Mr. Henry Comstock
Next Episode:
The Truckee Strip
External links
The Magnificent Adah on IMDb


Famous actress Adah Isaacs Menken visits Virginia City and renews her old friendship with Ben much to the chagrin of Adam, Hoss and Joe. Ben's sons believe Adah has plans to become the next Mrs. Cartwright. However, Menken's former boyfriend, John Regan, a professional fighter, has plans of his own for the beautiful actress.


The episode opens with the business manager for Menken attempting to nail a poster advertising a play on a tree on the Ponderosa. The three Cartwright brothers catch him in the act and make him think they are going to hang him for trespassing. He offers tickets for the best seats in the house for the play that night, which he drops as Hoss eyeballs a tree limb to hang him from. After the man has run for his life, Joe tucks the tickets into his gunbelt, thinking he has hidden the fact from Adam.

That night, Joe and Hoss sneak out of the house to see the play, only to find Adam waiting for them at the opera house. Adam, however, has not come to drag them home, but to join them in watching the play, The Mazzepa. Menken stars in the play as the hero and, at one point, is stripped down to a body stocking, meant to feign nudity, which is of particular interest to Hoss.

While the boys think that Ben would be displeased with his sons going to such a play, they are shocked to see Ben walk into the saloon with Adah Isaacs Menken on his arm. She tosses her garter to a throng of adoring men, but is disturbed to see John Regan, her old flame and former boxing heavyweight champion, rise from the crowd. He holds up her garter with a smirk. She then has Ben quickly escort her to her hotel, insisting that she is tired.

Later, Ben guesses why Adah wanted to leave so suddenly. He and Adah are old friends, so he knows her history with Regan. He counsels her to forget about Regan,reminding her of his past treatment of her, including beatings. She asks that Ben not interfere and he leaves, making arrangements to stay in town to protect her.

The next day, the boys are concerned that Menken "sure works fast", when Hop Sing reports to Joe that their father stayed in town, that she is coming to dinner that night. Adam determines, "Guess we better have a little talk with our Pa," as the brothers decide that Ben doesn't have any experience with women like Menken. That night, after dinner, the boys want to speak with him in private.

When Ben repeatedly asks the boys what is wrong, Hoss finally articulates their concerns by saying "She's an actress!" Ben assures his boys that he can take care of himself. The sons are not convinced, so Adam decides he needs to talk with Menken after her performance that night.

Adam's meeting with the Adah ends by Adam saying that words are not necessary for him to communicate what he came to let her know, then kisses Adah passionately. As Adam exits the theater he encounters his anxious younger brothers. When they ask what happened, he merely replies, "None of your business."

Joe decides that means his older brother didn't make out so well, so he goes to see Adah. Joe brings flowers and champagne and begins to woo the actress. She, however, calls his bluff and acts as though she is going to give him a bit of an education. This pretty much scares Joe to death before Adah tosses him to the floor and tells him off for coming there with the ideas he had about her. Joe is sufficiently chastised and the two end the encounter with Adah saying he is sweet and they are quite a family.

When there is a knock, Adah and Joe think it is Ben, so Joe hurries out the back way. Unfortunately, it is Regan. He saw Joe come there and he is there to beat him to a pulp. Adah gives Regan some jewelry to try and buy him off and get him to leave town. Regan takes the jewels and asks if Ben has asked her to marry him yet. She says he has no such intention, but Ben enters and says that is exactly his intention. Regan wants to fight, but Ben orders him out at gunpoint. Regan's parting words are, "I hope you know what you're doing, Cartwright".

Ben and Adah then have a heart to heart. She tells him she won't marry him because she would "rather have half a life than come between you and your sons".

Meanwhile, Regan reaches the street to find Joe getting ready to mount up and go home. Regan asks if his name is Cartwright. When Joe says it is, he tells the much smaller man who he is and that he should tell his father that when he asks. Joe says "Sure", with a shrug and turns away. Regan then hits him from behind, knocking him into an alley, then proceeds to beat Joe nearly to death. Later, Hoss finds his unconscious brother and carries him into the hotel lobby as Ben is preparing to check out.

Adam arrives at the hotel, having been told what has happened to Joe. The doctor tells Ben that there may be damage that could blind Joe. When Joe comes to, Ben asks him to blink twice if he can see him, which Joe slowly and painfully does. Adam wants Ben to ask who did this to him, but Ben says he knows and the three leave Joe with the doctor and head for the saloon.

The Cartwrights find Regan at the saloon and Ben challenges him to a gunfight. Regan shows him his hand, bruised from the many blows he pummeled on Joe and says that he couldn't fire a trigger; if he wants to settle for what he did to his boy, he'll have to do it with his fist. As Ben starts to take off his gun to accept the challenge, Hoss does the same and gives a nod to Adam to restrain Ben so that he can fight Regan, who is every bit as big as Hoss if not bigger.

Ben isn't happy that Hoss is fighting Regan and it doesn't look as though Hoss has much of a chance at first. After Hoss has been knocked down multiple times and bloodied, Adam yells to wrestle him instead of trying to box. Hoss grabs Regan around the torso and squeezing the stuffing out of him. Hoss proceeds to land a number of blows, repeatedly knocking the Regan down, picking him up and hitting him again. As Hoss is yelling breathlessly at Regan to "Get Up!", Adah rushes into the saloon and pushes Hoss away. She then embraces Regan and tells him everything will be alright.

Ben, Adam and Hoss go outside; as Ben wipes blood off Hoss' face, Hoss says he can't understand Adah with a man like that. Ben says she loves Regan and that there are many kinds of love. They then head to the hotel to see about Joe.

Cast and Characters[]

The Cartwrights



  • Bob Miles: Cowboy in Blue Shirt
  • Don Megowan: John C. Regan
  • Hal Smith: Durwood Watkyns
  • Fay Roope: Castellan
  • Kermit Maynard: Audience Member
  • Mauritz Hugo: Hotel Manager
  • Nancy Root: Actress portraying Olinska
  • Roy Jenson: Sledge
  • Ruth Roman: Adah Isaacs Menken
  • William Mims: One-armed miner


Wikipedia has an article related to: Adah Isaacs Menken.

Did You Know?[]

  • The original title was "The Naked Lady".
  • This is the first episode where Pernell Roberts wears an all-black outfit.


"I hate to miss a good fight!"
Hoss Cartwright[src]



See The Magnificent Adah/videos

See also[]