Joseph Cartwright
Biographical information
Full Name: Joseph Francis "Little Joe" Cartwright
Occupation: Rancher
Gender: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian / Creole
Hair color: Brown
Eye color: Green
Born: c.1842
Died: c. 1898-1899, in the Spanish-American War
Family/Relatives: Ben Cartwright (father)

Marie DeMarigny Cartwright † (mother)
Adam Cartwright (half brother)
Hoss Cartwright (half brother)
Clay Stafford (half brother)
Jamie Hunter Cartwright (adopted brother)

Spouse  ????
Romances/Domestic Partners:  ????
Children: None
Appeared on: Bonanza (TV Series)
First Episode: "A Rose for Lotta" (Series pilot)
Last Episode: "The Hunter" (Season 14, series finale)
Portrayed by: Michael Landon

The role of "Little Joe" Cartwright was played on Bonanza by actor Michael Landon, who had earlier played the title role in I Was a Teenage Werewolf. He portrayed the youngest Cartwright son, whose mother (Felicia in the pilot, and later changed to Marie) was of French Creole descent. Landon began to develop his skills in writing and directing Bonanza episodes, starting with "The Gamble." Most of the episodes Landon wrote and directed were dramas, including the two-hour, Season 14 opening episode special "Forever" (1972), which was recognized by TV Guide as being one of television's best specials (November 1993).

Landon's development of "Little Joe" was a bit stormy according to producer David Dortort, who felt that the actor grew more difficult during the last five seasons the show ran.[1] Landon appeared in all but fourteen Bonanza episodes for its run, a total of 416 episodes.

Beginning in 1962, a foundation was being laid to include another "son", as Pernell Roberts was displeased with his character. In the Season 4 opening episode "The First Born" (1962), viewers learn of Little Joe's older, maternal half-brother Clay Stafford. The character departed in that same episode, but left an opportunity for a return if needed. This character's paternity is open to debate. In the 1963 Sesaon 4 flashback episode "Marie, My Love" (episode #20), his father was Jean De'Marigny. Then in 1964, Lorne Greene released the song "Saga of the Ponderosa",[1] wherein Marie's previous husband was "Big Joe" Collins, who dies saving Ben's life. After Ben consoles Marie, the two bond and marry. They choose to honor "Big Joe" by calling their son "Little Joe". So, whether to Stafford, De'Marigny or Collins, Marie Cartwright was previously married. In the last of the three Bonanza TV movies, it is revealed that "Little Joe" had died in the Spanish–American War – a member of the "Rough Riders".

Personal lifeEdit

Joseph Francis Cartwright was named after Ben Cartwright's father.  He has little memory of his beloved mother, Marie Cartwright, and was under five when she died in a horsing accident, one he would mirror years later when his horse Cochise falls at the ranch.
Little Joe received his nickname because compared to his brother, Hoss, he was little in comparison. Joe likes playing checkers and poker, he also likes making bets that end up with hilarious results.

About "Little Joe"Edit

"Little Joe" was the only Cartwright born on the Ponderosa, unlike his other family members. He was the third biological son of Ben Cartwright.

Joe is portrayed to be quite sneaky, smart, feisty, iron-willed, and cute. He often pulls big brother Hoss into many of his schemes. Joe is also known to be quite a "ladies man", although many of his romances never work out.

Joe enjoys reading detective novels, and also loves to laugh, which is contagious to anyone near him. His trademark horse, Cochise, often fondly called "Cooch", is a black and white pinto. Joe is very fond of his horse. Little Joe is also not known to be one to back away from a fight or a challenge, as his hot temper sometimes takes over and clouds good judgement and common sense. However, he seems able to recover from any fight either unscaved or, from that or a bullet wound with nary a scratch.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Bonanza" four CD set biography notes, Bear Family Records

External linksEdit