Mar 17, 2016

Mitch Vogel: The Bulge and Biceps of Bonanza

We needed as many freckle-faced redheaded boys as possible during the 1970s: Ron Howard on Happy Days, Johnny Whitaker on Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, and Mitch Vogel on Bonanza (1970-73).

He played Jamie, a teenager adopted by the Cartrights to give Ben someone to offer fatherly advice to (and, apparently, to give Michael Landon some competition in the bulge department).

But before he blossomed into teenage biceps and bulges, Mitch was a popular child star, with roles in Adam-12, Ironside, The Young Rebels, and The Immortal.  

He was best known for The Reivers (1969), set in turn of the century Mississippi, as an 11-year old who tags along with his free-spirit relative (Steve McQueen) on a trip to a brothel in Memphis, sees naked ladies, and "comes of age" (although he doesn't actually have sex with anyone).

But the teenage Mitch did a lot of buddy-bonding, too.

In Two Boys (1970), Jud (Mitch) and his boyfriend Billy (Mark Kearney) "come of age" in a small Midwestern town.

In The Boy from Dead Man's Bayou (1971), Jeannot (Mitch) and Claude (Michael Lookinland from The Brady Bunch) buddy-bond as they wrest a church bell from the jaws of a giant alligator.

His characters got girls on Little House on the Prairie  (1975) and State Fair (1976), and were backwoods outsiders who didn't get anyone on Here Come the Brides and Saturday morning's The Mighty Isis (1975) and Ark II (1976).

His last credit movie role, Texas Detour (1978), is a Dukes of Hazard clone about three hippies stuck in a hayseed town.  Except it's a drama.

Today Mitch lives in Southern California, where he is active in directing, music, and church groups.

But gay Boomers will always remember him for the bulge and biceps of Bonanza.


  1. I remember Mitch.. His star had definitely faded by the time I was old enough to know who he was, but I remember him in 'The Reivers' when it came on TV in the early 80s and I thought he was the cutest thing I'd ever seen (I had a thing for redheads).. It's been years since I've seen it, so I can't say if there was really any gay subtext, but for some reason I thought there was (it's weird the things that turn us on as kids).

  2. I feel fairly confident that it was Steve McQueen in The Reivers, not Paul Newman. My [somewhat addled] memory tells me that little Mitch had a nude scene in that movie.


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