'Bonanza': How Mitch Vogel Won The Part Of "Jamie"
"Jamie Cartwright" still holds a special place in the hearts of Bonanza fans today. One of few surviving cast members, actor Mitch Vogel played the "Cartwright" brother adopted by the family in the show's final seasons. But do you know how the young star landed the part on Bonanza? Read on the learn the great story as recalled by Vogel himself.
The adoption of "Jamie Hunter" was a highlight of the later Bonanza seasons. The youngster was an orphan who visited the Ponderosa in season 12, carrying on his late father's rainmaking business. "Ben" (Lorne Greene) put him to work at the ranch and grew protective after learning he was an orphan.
The "Cartwrights" adopted "Jamie Hunter" soon after — and a fan-favourite was born! He joined the main cast and rode as a "Cartwright" through Bonanza's season 14 finale. But how did actor Mitch Vogel secure the role on the iconic Western series?
Bonanza: "Jamie Cartwright" was played by actor Mitch Vogel
Mitch Vogel's Bonanza story actually begins with a small part in the season 10 episode "The Real People of Muddy Creek." The child actor had one of his first roles in 1968 film Yours, Mine and Ours, after which he was simply hired for this first Bonanza appearance the same year.
"I didn't even have to audition for 'The Real People of Muddy Creek.' They just asked me to do it," Vogel told Medium in 2017. He has fond memories of this early appearance with his future co-stars, too.
"I remember being on the set for about two days," he recalled. "The thing that impressed me so much was that Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, and Dan Blocker were all so very nice to me. They brought me pictures — which I didn't ask for — that they signed to me. They made me feel so special."
As it turns out, Vogel's eventual casting as "Jamie" follows a similar story. The rising star delivered a strong performance in 1969 movie The Reivers, which was seen by Bonanza creator Dan Dortort.
He contacted Vogel with an offer to cast him in either Bonanza or The High Chaparral — and the "Jamie Hunter" role became his in 1970. But Vogel explained he was unaware of the potential for series regular status on Bonanza. "[Dortort] kinda said, 'You can come and stay with us.' But it wasn't a commitment at that point for a series.
"I guess David wanted to see how the character would resonate with people. Apparently, it resonated well. He officially asked me to join the cast not long after. It was quite exciting to be asked to do something like that without having to audition or anything," Vogel said in his Medium interview.
Bonanza: The "Jamie" episodes
Vogel went on to play "Jamie Hunter-Cartwright" in 51 episodes across Bonanza seasons 12-14. Today, Vogel is 64 years old, and remains one of few surviving Bonanza cast members.
For more on Mitch Vogel's career, life post-Bonanza, and whereabouts in 2020, see "Where Is Mitch Vogel Today?"