Mary Fickett on Bonanza

Before she married Dr. Joe Martin on ‘All My Children,’ Mary Fickett almost married Hoss Cartwright in her role on ‘Bonanza’

Actress, Mary Fickett is most remembered for her long-time role as Ruth Martin, a Pine Valley nurse on the ABC soap opera, ” All My Children.” On AMC, she was originally the wife of Ted Brent, an alcoholic car salesman, a marriage that was far from happy. She was attracted to the widowed doctor, Joe Martin (Ray MacDonnell), at the Pine Valley Hospital where they both worked, and he felt the same way. They did not act on their feelings until after Ruth’s husband was killed in a car accident. They later married and became the adoptive parents of Thaddeus Gardner Martin, or Tad Martin, as the character is more commonly known.

Fickett played Ruth Martin from 1970 until the mid-1990s when she wanted to spend more time with her family, and she let her contract lapse. She retired altogether by 2000.

Before finding her niche on “All My Children,” Mary Fickett appeared on the Ponderosa as one of the women who almost married one of the Cartwright boys. The 1969 episode of Bonanza that Mary appeared in was called “Erin,” and the Cartwright boy she almost married was Hoss (Dan Blocker). Many of the Bonanza episodes that involved Hoss provided the comedy that made the series stand out among other TV Westerns, but Hoss had his serious episodes and this was one of them.

Fickett played Erin O’Donnell, an Irish woman raised by Sioux Indians. Erin is trying to help the hungry Paiutes who are rounding up wild horses to sell to the Cartwrights. They don’t know that Hoss is a Cartwright when he comes along. The Indians, led by Bear Hunter (Michael Keep) hold Hoss at gunpoint when Erin appears and they all find out he is a Cartwright. Erin is revered by the Indians as a mystic and medicine woman. When Hoss falls in love with Erin, Bear Hunter disapproves because he believes a Paiute prophet who said Erin was the wolf’s’ child, born to fight and die with the Indians. He is not the only problem since a rancher, Clint Murray (Donald Briggs) has a big problem with the Indians and Erin being around.

We know we won’t be spoiling the episode for you when we tell you that Hoss and Erin don’t get married. If you know anything about “Bonanza” at all, you know that the Cartwright boys fell in love a lot but something always went wrong so fans could continue to hope they would marry one of the Cartwright boys

Michael Keep played many Indian roles in TV Westerns of the day. He was Chief Wateekah in several episodes of “Branded.” On “Gunsmoke,” he was Yellow Bear, and on “Cheyenne,” he was Dull Knife. He appeared on “Bonanza” in three episodes, but “Erin” was the only “Bonanza” episode he played an Indian in.

David Canary, who played the recurring role of ranch hand Candy Canaday on “Bonanza,” later worked with Mary Fickett on “All My Children” when he took on the roles of identical twins, Adam and Stuart Chandler in 1984. David was still playing both roles up until 2009, when as Adam, he accidentally killed his twin, Stuart.

In her last years, Mary Fickett suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease. She died at age 83 on September 8, 2011 at her home in Virginia home. The September 21, 2011 episode of All My Children was dedicated to Fickett’s memory.

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