The Emperor's Bridge Campaign

to honor the life + advance the legacy of Emperor Norton

The Emperor Does "Bonanza"

Through the magic of television, Emperor Norton paid a memorable visit to the Ponderosa ranch on 27 February 1966. That's the date that the episode "The Emperor Norton" originally aired on the popular television series, Bonanza. It was Episode 23 of Season 7, and the 225th episode overall.

The episode is quite entertaining, although — because? — this is historical fiction with a heavy emphasis on fiction. As portrayed by Sam Jaffe, the Emperor comes off as a vaguely Teutonic figure; perhaps Bonanza's creators just took a wild guess and imagined that a 19th-century Englishman raised in South Africa and resident in San Francisco for more than a decade would speak with a German accent?

For all that — and for all the unabashed hokeyness that is Bonanza — the Emperor presented here does strike a nice balance between imperiousness, problem solving; benevolence; and kindness. It's a balance that resonates.

The Bay Bridge plays a role. And there's a Mark Twain cameo.

Here's the full episode. Enjoy!

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