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Episodes appear in order of original air date which may not coincide with when they were actually filmed. Episodes that are linked have an In-Depth article.

Season 12: Episodes #362-369 | #370-377 | #378-385 | #386-389

Time to Die

Episode #386: A Time to Die

Air Date: March 21, 1971   Written by: Don Ingalls   Directed by: Phillip Leacock
Guest Stars: Vera Miles (April Christopher), Melissa Newman (Lori Christopher), Henry Beckman (Dr. Phelps)

While visiting the Ponderosa, Ben's friend, April Christopher, is bitten by a rabid wolf. Ben and April and her daughter must come to terms with her illness as they all realize the terrible fate that awaits her.

Trivia: This is Vera Miles' second and last appearance in the series. She was a favorite of Alfred Hitchcock after Grace Kelly retired, but pregnancy prevented her from many starring roles. Her first husband was long-time Bonanza stuntman Bob Miles.

Winter Kill

Episode #387: Winter Kill

Air Date: March 28, 1971   Written by: John Hawkins, Robert Pirosh, Jack Rummler   Directed by: William Wiard
Guest Stars: Glenn Corbett (Howie Landis), Sheilah Wells (Marie Landis), Clifton James (Mr. Quarry), John Pickard (Griggs)

The foreman of a neighboring ranch shoots a special steer that Ben has shipped in from Montana that he hopes will withstand the severe winters, and his scheming boss plots to take unfair advantage of the mistake.

Trivia: This is Glenn Corbett's second and final appearance in the series. He is probably best remembered for his portrayal of Paul Morgan on the long running CBS nighttime soap, Dallas.

Kingdom of Fear

Episode #388: Kingdom of Fear

Air Date: April 4, 1971   Written by: Michael Landon   Directed by: Joseph Pevney
Guest Stars: David Canary (Candy Canaday), Alfred Ryder (Judge), Luke Askew (Deputy Hatch), Richard Mulligan (Farley)

The Cartwrights and Candy fall victim of a mad man who chains and enslaves them to work on his gold mine. Joe escapes and returns to try and save his family along with the rest of the men held prisoner.

Trivia: This was Alfred Ryder's first and only appearance in the series. For many years, he was the voice of Sammy in the radio serial Rise of the Goldbergs. Despite his achievements on the stage, film and radio, Ryder is mostly remembered as a prolific and versatile TV character actor, with over 100 appearances to his credit.

This episode was filmed around the time of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. As a result, Michael Landon's script needed to be toned down to get rid of what was perceived as excess violence in the script. Filmed in 1968, it did not air until 1971 (this is why Candy is in the episode) - by that time, NBC felt it was it was OK to air. Ironically, it aired on April 4, 1971 which was the third anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination.


Episode #389: An Earthquake Called Callahan

Air Date: April 11, 1971   Written by: Preston Wood   Directed by: Herschel Daugherty
Guest Stars: Victor French (Tom Callahan), Sandy Duncan (Evangeline), Dub Taylor (Otto), Lou Frizzell (Dusty Rhoades)

The only person who can get Dusty out of jail is a professional fighter who will not return to Virginia City with Joe. Joe is determined and does what he has to do to get him and his quirky sidekick to return with him.

Trivia: his was Victor French's fifth and last appearance in the series. The son of stuntman Ted French, his television debut was a small role in "Lassie" (1954). He had his first experiences in western-films, where he always played the "bad guy." This changed with Little House on the Prairie (1974) (as Isaiah Edwards). In 1977, he left Little House on the Prairie (1974) to play in his own sitcom Carter Country (1977). He directed in LA Theaters and won the Critics Circle Award for 12 Angry Men. In the 1980s, he declined to play "bad guys." Victor French died of lung cancer in 1989 after finishing the last episode of Highway to Heaven (1984).