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- Who is your favorite Bonanza character?: Adam
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Mitch's fascination with acting began when he was ten when his mother took him to see Peter Pan at the Melodyland Theatre in Anaheim. Although he was a guitar enthusiast, when asked whether he would rather take acting lessons or guitar lessons, he choose acting, beginning at the Orange County Performing Arts Foundation. He soon was cast as the lead in "Tom Sawyer," "Heidi," and "The Wizard of Oz" and caught the attention of a Hollywood agent, Evelyn Farney, who got him a professional audition.
Mitch's first credited role was at age 12 playing Tommy North in the 1968 comedy film, Yours, Mine, and Ours. The film is loosely based on the real life blended family of Frank (Henry Fonda) and Helen North Beardsley (Lucile Ball) and their twenty children.
Mitch (waving) as Tommy North with Henry Fonda. Yours, Mine, and Ours 1968
That's Tim Mathieson (aka Griff) as Mike Beardsley holding the child on the right.
Mitch with Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda Yours, Mine, and Ours 1968 Mitch’s career steadily grew as he landed roles in The Virginian, Death Valley Days, and Adam-12. Then in 1969, he earned the major role of 11-year old Lucius McCaslin in the film adaptation of William Faulkner’s novel The Reivers. Lucius travels with plantation hand Boon Hoggenback (Steve McQueen) from rural Mississippi to Memphis to visit Boon’s girlfriend. Mitch earned a Golden Glove Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The film’s star Steve McQueen was nominated for Best Actor.
Boon and Lucius The Reivers 1969 Mitch appeared in numerous TV films and shows including a guest star appear as Tommy in the 1968 Bonanza episode, "The Real People of Muddy Creek." Tommy and his grandfather were two of only a handful of people that stayed in town to help Ben fight off Cliff Harper and his gang.
Tommy "Real People of Muddy Creek" 1968
Mitch as Jamie McIver in "Menace on the Mountain" The Wonderful World of Disney 1970
Jodie Foster was also in this film as 8 year old Suellen McIver. In 1970, Mitch was cast as a regular on Bonanza as Jamie Hunter, an orphan taken in by the Cartwrights and adopted. David Dortort reportedly was looking for a younger character who could be on the receiving end of Ben’s fatherly wisdom now that Little Joe was in his mid-30’s.
"We got hired, Mr. Cartwright. We're gonna make rain."
Jamie Hunter "A Matter of Faith" Bonanza 1970
"I'm too big to cry."
Jamie Hunter "A Matter of Faith" Bonanza 1970 Mitch made quite an impression on the Bonanza cast.
Lorne Greene commented in March 1971, "Just for the fun of it, I decided to test him (Mitch) out one day. I wanted to find out what kind of actor he was. Playing a scene with him in rehearsal, I made departures from the script, changing lines and movements. This would rattle most kids who wouldn't be prepared for anything that didn't appear on paper. But Mitch was concentrating on me, not merely the words he had learned, and he responded to my changes perfectly. I realized that this was no ordinary kid actor, but a boy with an unusual talent." (TV Guide, March 1971)
David Canary noted in September 1972, "I returned to the series after an awkward absence. I know the storyline now embraced this young, adoptive Cartwright. So few teens in this field can prove their salt. Watching him, over what, the first ten weeks, I knew Mitch's skills could not be questioned-he's kind of this 27 year old actor residing in an a much more innocent shell." (Wikipedia)
Mitch played the role of Jamie until Bonanza ended in 1972. His friend Michael Landon later cast him as Johnny Johnson in two episodes of Little House on the Prairie in 1974-75. He continued to work in television in episodes of Gunsmoke, The Streets of San Francisco, and others throughout the 70’s, playing roles in 32 credited titles during his ten-year career.
Mitch Vogel with Melissa Gilbert Little House on the Prairie 1972 In 1978 at age 22, Mitch left the TV spotlight, and his acting roles ceased. However his TV appearances were not over for good. In 2002, Vogel returned to Bonanza's locations for the Travel Channel's TV Road Trip. He narrated a look at the Ponderosa Ranch in Incline Village, Nevada. He has also maintained his connection with Bonanza by participating in both the 2005 Bonanza Convention, the 2010 Bonanza Weekend in Liverpool, England, and the 2011 Bonanza Round-up in Los Angeles, California as several Boomers can attest from personal experience!
Bonanza Weekend London 2010 ~ Courtesy of Yelah Mitch married his wife Christine in 1986 and has two daughters, Shauna and Melanie. He is currently living in Southern California.
Photo courtesy of Yelah A talented musician, Mitch currently sings in a band and continues to act and direct in amateur productions.
Photo courtesy of Yelah
collage courtesy of Yelah
TV Guide March 27, 1971
Mitch Vogel bio by Gillie
Proud owner of Adam's Guitar, Lafe's Auction June 2016
Adam to Joe: "You heard what he said. We look for little green men riding on hound dogs."
"Well, Jessie, I'm not just sure I pleased you." Jim Boyer
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