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Looking Back at Bonanza: Enter Thomas Bowers (1964)

As a child I regularly watched syndicated television shows in historical settings like Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman with my mother. I remembered that some of the episodes featured black characters and dealt with race. I thought it'd be fun to rewatch these episodes and give my thoughts here.

The first episode I dug up was the season 5 episode 30 of Bonanza, titled "Enter Thomas Bowers" which aired April 26, 1964.

The episode starts with three women discussing a benefit concert for the local Native American tribe. One of the women proudly states that she has gotten the internationally famous singer Thomas Bowers to perform and that he is coming in on the next stagecoach. Only when Thomas Bowers (William Marshall) arrives, he's not exactly who she thought he'd be.

Once she realizes that the singer is a black man the entire atmosphere changes.  I have to stop here is point out the irony of them not wanting a black man to sing a…

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