enter thomas bowers
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Enter Thomas Bowers Full Episode – Bonanza, Season #05, Episode #30

In this iconic episode of Bonanza, Enter Thomas Bowers, William Marshall, known for his roles in “Blacula” and “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” takes on the role of Thomas Bowers, a celebrated black opera singer. Returning from a successful tour in Italy, Bowers faces intense bigotry and prejudice upon reaching Virginia City. To make matters worse, he is mistaken for an escaped enslaved person and faces arrest. The Cartwrights step in to help Bowers, but the situation remains tense. The episode also features Ena Hartman as Caroline, Kelly Thordsen as Sam, Jason Wingreen as Luke, and Alice Frost as Mrs. Gable. Due to its sensitive subject matter, this episode sparked controversy in some regions.

Explore the plot and intriguing trivia, or watch the full episode below.

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Watch the Full Episode of Enter Thomas Bowers

Watch the Full Episode of Enter Thomas Bowers:

Main Cast

The thirtieth episode of Bonanza’s fifth season, “Enter Thomas Bowers,” showcases several familiar faces from the show’s recurring and supporting cast. Here’s the full lineup of actors in this episode:

  • Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright
  • Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright
  • Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright
  • Michael Landon as Joseph ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright
  • William Marshall as Thomas Bowers
  • Kelly Thordsen as Sam Kiley
  • Alice Frost as Mrs. Sarah Gable
  • Ken Renard as Jed
  • Ena Hartman as Caroline
  • Ray Teal as Sheriff Roy Coffee
  • Jason Wingreen as Luke
  • J. Edward McKinley as Charlie Simpson
  • Robert P. Lieb as Mr. Walker
  • Jeanne Determann as Minnie Watkins
  • George Petrie as Hotel Clerk
  • Don Washbrook as Donnie the Telegrapher
  • Russ Bender as Station Master
  • Dorothy Neumann as Older Townswoman
  • Robert Adler as Stage Driver
  • Eddie Baker as Show Spectator (uncredited)
  • John Barton as Show Spectator (uncredited)
  • Bill Borzage as Townsman (uncredited)
  • John Bose as Townsman (uncredited)
  • John Breen as Show Spectator (uncredited)
  • Bill Clark as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Gene Coogan as Show Spectator (uncredited)
  • Edith Emelyne as Show Spectator (uncredited)
  • Betty Endicott as Stage Passenger (uncredited)
  • Bob Folkerson as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Herschel Graham as Show Spectator (uncredited)
  • Herman Hack as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Al Haskella as Show Spectator (uncredited)
  • Richard LaMarr as Show Spectator (uncredited)
  • Ethelreda Leopold as Show Spectator (uncredited)
  • Bob Miles as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Hans Moebus as Show Spectator (uncredited)
  • Charles Perry as Show Spectator (uncredited)
  • Paul Ravel as Show Spectator (uncredited)
  • Arnold Roberts as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Cap Somers as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Robert Strong as Show Spectator (uncredited)
  • Jack Tornek as Show Spectator (uncredited)
  • Sailor Vincent as Show Spectator (uncredited)

Full Story Line for Enter Thomas Bowers

Fresh from a triumphant tour in Italy, renowned Black opera singer Thomas Bowers arrives in Virginia City for a scheduled concert. However, he is met with severe bigotry and prejudice when the hotel refuses him lodging and a local restaurant denies him service, all due to the discrimination of the owner, Sam. Amidst this hostility, Hoss intervenes when Bowers faces harassment from bullies at the restaurant.

Jed, a local Black man, extends hospitality to Bowers, inviting him to share a meal at his home after Sam’s refusal. Meanwhile, still at the restaurant, Hoss receives a telegram intended for the sheriff, warning of a runaway slave matching Bowers’ description, accused of killing an overseer. Recognizing the imminent danger, Hoss rushes to Jed’s home to warn Bowers and escorts him to the safety of the Ponderosa.

Upon learning of Bowers’ whereabouts, Sam and his cohorts resort to violence to extract information from Jed. However, Jed’s daughter persuades him to alert Sheriff Coffee about the impending threat against Bowers. Grateful for the warning, Sheriff Coffee arrives at the Ponderosa in time to witness the Cartwrights defend Bowers from Sam’s group, vowing to protect him on their ranch.
Although reluctant to detain Bowers, Sheriff Coffee is legally obligated to do so until his identity can be verified. Hoss accompanies Bowers to jail to provide company during the process. Finally, upon receiving a telegram confirming Bowers’ innocence and the escape of the actual fugitive, Sheriff Coffee releases him.

Despite his initial reluctance, Bowers decides to reclaim his voice and make a stand against prejudice. Surprising Ben and Hoss, he takes the stage at a local hall, mesmerizing the audience with his powerful singing, ultimately creating a profound impact on those present.

Full Script and Dialogue of Enter Thomas Bowers

Do you realize that the
stage is almost two hours late?

I do.

- Well?
- Well, what?

Why is the stage late?

I wouldn't rightly
know, Mrs. Gable.

All I know is the stage
left Saint Louis on time.

Stupid man. He
doesn't know anything.

I only hope the stage gets here in
time for the concert tomorrow night.

I knew it. I just knew it.

Now, I'm not one to say
"I told you so," Sarah,

but it was a mistake
to count on a singer

that nobody's ever
heard of, much less seen.

You're just offended, Minnie, because
you're not singing at the concert.

But I think it's high time that we
brought real culture to Virginia City.

Minnie may be right, Sarah.

For all we know, Thomas
Bowers may be just a nobody.

A nobody?

Have you forgotten that letter
from the Lyceum Bureau in Chicago?

Oh, why he's compared
to Count Mario,

the greatest living
Italian opera singer.

Why, they even call
him the American Mario.

You call that a nobody?

Oh, there's Hoss Cartwright.
I've got to talk to him.

Oh, Mr. Cartwright.

Good morning, Ms. Gable.

I hope your father hasn't
forgotten his promise

to make the collection speech
to the concert tomorrow night.

No, ma'am, he sure ain't.
He's got that thing memorized

backwards and forwards. He's
been practicing it for a week.

Ma'am, that's sure a fine
thing you ladies are doing,

the benefit for the Paiutes.

They're certainly
gonna need that help

after the winter they've
just gone through.

Oh, yes. Those poor
unfortunate people.

But I think that's the least we can
do for our red brethren, don't you?

- Yes, ma'am, I do.
- Stage coming!


- What happened to you?
- Plenty.

We were crossing the river, the
ropes broke and we lost all the luggage.

And then later on
we lost a wheel.

- All the luggage?
- Yep.

Uh, Mr. Bowers, I'm Mrs. Gable,
president of the Virginia City...

Uh, no, ma'am, my
name is Simpson.

Charlie Simpson
in ladies novelties.

Oh, I had some lovely
items to show you fair ladies.

But thanks to that fool driver,

all my merchandise is now
at the bottom of the river.

Oh, I thought you were the
famous singer, Thomas Bowers.

Uh, no, ma'am.

- I'm Thomas Bowers.
- Oh.

You're Thomas Bowers?

I am, madam.

Oh, but you can't be.

Uh, I mean, uh, surely
there's some mistake.

Mr. Bowers must be exhausted
from his harrowing trip, Sarah.

Now, aren't you going
to take Mr. Bowers

to your house to freshen up?

You know I have no
guestroom in my house.

Uh, there's a
hotel up the street.

I'm sure you'll find
accommodations there.

There's no use fussing about it.

There's no use fussing.

Now, we're gonna
do everything we can

to get your lost
luggage back for you.

Well, we'll send some men
out first thing in the morning.

We'll even drag the
river if necessary.

Now, you can't ask
for more, can you?

You shouldn't have lost
them in the first place.

- That's right.
- Ridiculous.

Excuse me.

Can you tell me when
the next stage leaves?

Well, that would be
the one you were on.

It'll take a day to clean it
up, put a new wheel on.

Let's see. Day after
tomorrow. That'll be Monday.

You mean there's nothing sooner?

Sooner? You're not thinking on
leaving before the concert, are you?

I have a feeling there's
not gonna be any concert.

Thank you.

- Pardon me.
- Yes?

My name is Thomas
Bowers. I'd like a room, please.

Beg your pardon?

I said, I'd like a room, please.

I'm sorry, we're all filled up.

I see. Thank you very much.

The pleasure is all mine.

Yes, sir?

Yes, I'd like a nice large room,
uh, with a bath if you have one.

Yes, indeed, sir. I can give you a
room with a bath on the same floor.

- How will that be?
- That'll suit me fine.

Will you please sign here, sir?

But, Mrs. Gable, the
next issue of the Enterprise

doesn't come out till Monday.

That's two days after the
concert is scheduled to be held.

Oh, my, I forgot about that.

But you still haven't told me why
you want to cancel the concert.

Well, isn't that rather obvious?

How am I ever going to explain

to the ladies of the
Virginia City Culture Society

that I hadn't known that Thomas
Bowers was a...? Was a...?

A Negro?

Well, that's not
exactly what I meant.

Isn't it, Mrs. Gable?
What did you mean?

Oh, Mr. Walker, it's
all so embarrassing.

Well, it shouldn't be.

But if you cancel the
concert, it will be, for all of us.

Well, what do you mean?

Well, Mrs. Gable, as
the self-appointed leader

of cultural activities
in Virginia City,

you should have known
all about Thomas Bowers.

He's quite famous, you know.
He's given concerts all over Europe.

Now, it seems to me that if the color
of his skin didn't bother Queen Victoria,

it shouldn't bother the
fair ladies of Virginia City.

Queen Victoria?

Why, Mr. Walker, are
you trying to tell me

that Thomas Bowers
sang for the Queen?

Why not? He's considered to have
one of the greatest voices in America.

I understand the
Queen was very pleased.

Thank you, Mr. Walker.

You're a most persuasive man.

And then he gets off
of the stage and says,

"I'm Thomas Bowers."

You should have
seen Mrs. Gable's face.

Look like she was gonna
take a fit right then and there.

Speak of the devil.

May I have some
ham and eggs, please?

And you've got money?

Why, yes, of course.

Yes, of course.

Well, that's too bad,
because we're all out of food.

Then perhaps I might
have a glass of water.

Ah! We're all out of water too.

You want a glass of water, boy?

There's a horse
trough right out in front.

Let them go. Let me have them.

Take it easy.

I don't think these fellas
wanna play around anymore.

Do you, boys?

Come on, let's go outside.
You need to cool off. Come on.

Thank you very much.

I guess I wouldn't have stood
much of a chance against theirs odds

if you hadn't stepped in.

I don't know. You look to me like
you can handle yourself pretty good.

I wouldn't have figured a
singer could hit like that.

Well, I guess I was so infuriated,
I didn't know what was happening.

- But thank you very much, Mister...
- Cartwright. Hoss Cartwright.

Mr. Cartwright, I wonder
if you could tell me

whether there's another
restaurant in this town.

Yeah, there's one over there
in the hotel. Pretty good food.

No, I'm afraid I wouldn't
be welcome there.

They've already
refused me lodging.

Said they were all filled up.

Filled up.

We'll find out. There's
Jed. He works over there.

Hey, Jed, Jed. You got a minute?

- Hello, Mr. Cartwright.
- Howdy, Jed.

Is it true the hotel is full?

I wouldn't know about
that, Mr. Cartwright.

I gotta go. Uh, my
lunch is waiting.

I'm sorry.

Well, I guess that
answers your question.

Don't you worry none, Mr. Bowers.
We'll get you something to eat.

But please don't go back to the hotel,
Mr. Bowers. There'll only be trouble.

Now, if you're hungry, you're
welcome to come eat at my place.

Oh, there's more than enough,
if that's what you're thinking.

And my daughter's
a mighty fine cook.

Well, thank you very much,
but I don't want to intrude.

Oh, no. Not at all. Not at all.

Well, thank you, Mr. Cartwright.

And I'm certainly glad
you were on my side.

My pleasure, Mr. Bowers.

I'll be looking forward
to hearing you sing.

There'll be a next time.

And I'll fix him. I'll fix
him good and proper.

Sure you will.

You don't think he's gonna
get away with that, do you?

I'll teach him his place.

He's nothing but a
smart loudmouth...

Look, Sam, simmer
down, will you?

And get me another steak,
will you? That one's cold.

Well, that stuff still isn't
gonna get started in this town.

You wait and see.

I'll fix him. I'll
fix him but good.

- Carrie.
- Pa, what took you so long?


Mr. Bowers, this is
my daughter, Caroline.

How do you do, Ms. Caroline?


Are you Thomas Bowers, the famous
singer that everybody's talking about?

Well, I don't know about
the famous part of it.

Oh, but you are. You
see, I know all about you.

You can talk later, Carrie.
Mr. Bowers is hungry.

Now, how was your trip
from Saint Louis, Mr. Bowers?

Say, you do know a
great deal about me.

A few weeks back I served
at a party at Mrs. Gable's.

- She's the president of...
- Yes, I've met the lady.


Mr. Bowers,

can you really sing in Italian?

Caroline, if you don't stop talking
and give us something to eat,

Mr. Bowers, he ain't gonna
be able to sing in any language.

Run, boy, run.

Is Sheriff Coffee in here?

You got eyes. You
see him any place?

A sign on his door
said he's out to lunch.

I thought he'd be here.

I got an important
telegram for him.


Well, let's have
a look at it, boy.

Oh, no, sir. I can't do
that. It's official business.

Now, if it's official business, the sheriff
is duty-bound not to keep it private.

You know that.

"Sheriff, Virginia City. Be
on alert for runaway slave.

Believed headed
Nevada Territory.

About 35.

Tall, powerfully
built, well-spoken.

Can be dangerous when aroused.

Wanted for murder of overseer.

Reward $1000.

G. Williams, Chief of
Police, Saint Louis, Missouri."

Fits your friend pretty
close, don't it, Cartwright?

Yep, but I reckon it
could fit a lot of people.

Yeah, can it?

How many fancy-talking
runaway slaves

you seen around here
lately about his age,

about the same
height as this one?

How come this wire was
sent right here to Virginia City?

More than likely a
general notice was sent

to all the sheriffs and marshals
throughout the whole west.

Don't listen to him. Let's
go get the black boy.

Sam, wait a minute.

Look, why don't you
wait for the sheriff?

What for?

That's just gonna give him
$1,000 worth of help. Come on.

Look, buddy, you get that back
over to the sheriff's office. You hear?

Tell him what happened.
Wait there for him.

- Hello, Mr. Cartwright.
- Excuse me, ma'am.

Mr. Bowers, Sam Kiley and a
bunch of the boys are looking for you.

For me? For what?

Well, they got this police
bulletin this morning

describing a runaway slave
that is wanted for murder.

What's that gotta
do with Mr. Bowers?

Ma'am, the way it read, it could
have been him, the description and all.

Same general size and general build,
and it said that he was well-spoken.

And it said that he could be
dangerous when he's aroused.

They don't know
he's here, do they?

Not yet, they don't.

He's no runaway slave.

Ma'am, they sure wanna think he is.
We ain't got time to sit around talking.

Now, I got my rig
outside. Come on.

Where do you plan to take me?

To the Ponderosa. To my home.

It's all right. You can
trust the Cartwrights.

- They're good people.
- No. Mr. Bowers hasn't done anything.

Look, they ain't gonna
stick around here

asking no questions
once they find him.

They're gonna put together
a lynch mob that quick,

especially after what
he done this morning.

- Lynch mob?
- Now, listen.

There's no point in you dear
people getting involved in my trouble.

Thank you very much for your kindness
and I do hope we meet again soon.

Mr. Bowers.

You're not a runaway
slave, are you?

And if I were?

Come on.

You got a black man
named Thomas Bowers here?

In this hotel? You
can't be serious.

He tried to get a room here, but
I sent him on his way in a hurry.

If it'll be of any help to you, I
saw him going down the street

just a little while ago, uh,
with another colored man.

That must be Jed. He's
the only other one in town.

Jed. He works here, don't he?

Well, yes, he, uh,
sweeps up around here.

Where does he live?

Well, I've never actually
been to his house.

Just tell me where he lives.

Well, he lives on the edge of
town just past the blacksmith.

The people one has to put
up with in this town. I tell you.

- Now, where is he?
- Let him alone.

Somebody shut her up.

Don't hit me anymore, please.

- Ow!
- Pa, don't tell. Pa.

Look, you got about one second left
before I drive this right through your...

All right, all
right, I'll tell you.

Hoss Cartwright came and...

Well, come on. Spit it out.

They went to the Ponderosa.



Let's go.

Now, you tell anybody
where we're going,

it'll be the last
talking you ever do.

Do you understand that, Jed?

Don't you tell nobody. Not
a soul. Hear me, Carrie?

- Carrie, you hear me?
- Yeah. I hear you, Pa.

I've been listening
to you for 18 years.

"Mind your tongue, Carrie.

Pick up after them.
Know your place."

Trying to be like white folks only
brings sorrow and hurt to others.

You saw that today, girl.

What I saw today was a man.

Even if he is a runaway,
he's still nobody's slave.

But you are, Pa.

Are you losing your mind, girl?

I don't belong to
nobody. I'm free.

Stop fooling yourself, Pa.

You ain't free.

You're just a
poor, scared flunky.

I'm sorry, Pa.

Oh, Pa, I'm sorry.




Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Why are we stopping?

Oh, this dang old team's been
dragging the last couple of miles.

If I don't stop and let them rest a
while, we ain't gonna never make it.

And my load's shifting on me.

Let him pull back over the line.

Don't spend too
much time, though.

I'm sure Sam Kiley and the boys
have figured out you're with me by now.

Don't worry. I
don't carry a gun.

I think that since you're risking
such a great deal on a total stranger,

you ought to
have a look at this.

I don't need no more proof.

Read it, please.

"Mrs. Amos Gable.
Virginia City, Nevada.

Dear madam, this will
introduce Thomas Bowers,

who has graciously consented to fill
the guest spot at your benefit concert.

Best wishes for a
successful concert.

Respectfully, Arthur O'Neill, manager,
Lyceum Bureau, Chicago, Illinois."

Well, does that make
you feel a little better?

How come you didn't
show that to Ms. Gable?

She took one look at me
and she was in an awful hurry

to go in the opposite direction.

Well, you look tired.

We'll be at the house
soon and you can relax.

I'd appreciate that.

I haven't had a good night's
sleep since we left Saint Louis.


- Hi, Donnie.
- Hi, sheriff.

Where are Sam and his
boys off to in such a hurry?

I reckon they're after
the runaway slave.

Runaway slave? Ha, ha.
What are you talking about, boy?

- They tell you about it in this.
- In here?

How did Sam know about
this? Did you show to him?

I couldn't help it. I was looking for
you and they grabbed it away from me.

Well, all right.
What's done is done.

I sure would like to know
where them hotheads are off to.

Give me that thing.

- Sheriff?
- Yeah?

What happened to
you? You been in a fight?

Yeah, they made me tell them
where Hoss is taking Mr. Bowers.

- I didn't wanna, so they...
- Who in the world did that to you?

Sam Kiley and the others.

I don't care if he hurts
me as he said he would.

- I ain't gonna let him get Mr. Bowers.
- Don't worry, I won't let that happen.

- But where were they heading?
- The Ponderosa.

They're after them, Mr. Coffee.

If they catch up him with
him, they'll hurt him real bad.

Thanks, Jed.

You done the right thing, Jed.


Maybe it's about time I did.

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Pa, this is Mr. Thomas
Bowers, the famous singer.

Mr. Bowers, welcome
to the Ponderosa.

These are my brothers,
Little Joe and Adam.

How are you?

Mr. Bowers had sort of
a rough time on the stage

and he needs some
rest pretty bad, Pa.

I'm sorry to hear that.

Well, we'll try to
make you comfortable.

Joe, why don't you show
Mr. Bowers the guestroom?

- All right, Pa.
- Gentlemen, thank you very much.

It couldn't just be that he had trouble
getting accommodations in town?

- Yeah.
- That figures.

But that ain't why
I brought him here.

Fact is that Sam Kiley and a
bunch of the boys are after him.

They're on their way
out here right now.

- What?
- After him? What for?

Oh, they think he's some sort of a
dangerous runaway slave or something.

But he ain't and
I know he ain't.

Well, I wish I had your
faith in human nature.

Ever stop to think what could happen
to Pa if Bowers is that runaway slave?

Well, we can take care of Kiley.

That's not what I mean.

You've heard of the
Dred Scott decision.

- No.
- It was just handed down

by the Supreme Court.

A slave, even in free territory,
is still the property of his master.

Therefore an escaped
slave is a fugitive from justice.

And anyone who offers him
sanctuary is an accessory to the crime.

What kind of dang law is that?

I know, but nevertheless it's
the law. The new law of the land.

Pa could go to prison if
Bowers is the runaway slave.

Runaway slave? Who? The
man I just brought upstairs?

No, there was a warrant for the
arrest of a runaway slave in town.

And Sam Kiley and a bunch of
the town loafers got it in their head

that Mr. Bowers was
that runaway slave.

Hoss thinks that they're
on their way out here.

What do you think they're
gonna do? Take him by force?

Of course not.

Bowers will stay right here until
there's positive proof of his identity.

A man is innocent
till he's proven guilty.

That's also a law of the land.

Do you think you can convince
Kiley of that? Here he comes.

Howdy, Sam.

Anything we can do for you?

Uh, no, Ben, something
we're gonna do for you.

We're gonna take that black off your
hands, take him back to the sheriff.

Well, if you're
referring to Mr. Bowers,

I'm afraid you've come
out here for nothing.

Look, Ben, you're
a law-abiding man.

You wouldn't be protecting
any runaway slave, would you?

Or maybe Hoss didn't tell you who it
was he brung out here this morning.

Well, Sam, whatever Hoss did or did
not tell me is none of your business.

It is my business, Ben,
if he's a runaway slave.

No. No, it isn't.

And even if he were, you
still come out here for nothing.

It just so happens that the
man inside is Thomas Bowers,

the world-famous singer.

You can't prove that.

I don't have to.

Sam, why don't you and
your boys just get along?

Whatever has to be done,
we'll discuss with the sheriff first.

I'm warning you, Cartwright,
if you don't hand him over...

If we don't, what are
you gonna do about it?

Now, hold on, Sam.

You said there wasn't
gonna be no fighting.

Don't you worry, Luke, there
ain't gonna be no fighting.

Sam, just what do you
think you're doing out here?

Well, I'm only trying to
be a good citizen, sheriff.

I'm trying to protect all of us from
that runaway murderer they got in there.

He tried to kill me this
morning with his bare hands.


I don't reckon he cared too much for
all that fine food you served him, Sam.

We just came out here to escort
your prisoner back to town for you.

Sam, you ain't my
deputy. You know that.

But maybe you forgot when you
read that wire addressed to me

mentioning about
that reward money.

Now, you boys better
get back to town right now.

Come on, fellas.

Ben, I gotta talk to
you about all this.

Well, go ahead, Roy.

Where's Bowers at?

Inside resting.

I'm sorry, but I'm gonna
have to take him into custody.

Now, how come, Roy?

You ain't got no proof
that he's that slave.

Not yet, no.

But I saw him in town this morning
and from the description in that wire,

I can't say for sure that he ain't
the slave and neither can you.

Now, what does that mean?

Well, Bowers come here
from Saint Louis, didn't he?

- Did he?
- Yeah.

Well, so did the slave.

Now, ain't it just possible that
he could have bushwhacked,

even killed Bowers and took everything
he had on him including that letter?

And posing as Bowers,
wearing Bowers' clothes,

got on that stagecoach
for Virginia City?

In that case, Ben, you'd be
harboring a murderer and an imposter.

Now, hold on a
minute there, Roy.

There's a very
easy way to settle it.

Let's ask Mr. Bowers
to sing something.

He's a singer.

Well, I don't see
what that would prove.

Most of them slaves can sing.

Yeah, I guess that
wouldn't be proof positive.

I guess we have no choice, Hoss.

Joe, would you ask
Mr. Bowers to come out?

- Right.
- I'll go with you.

Wait a minute now, Pa.

You said that
the law of the land

was that a man is
innocent until proven guilty.

- Right?
- Yes, I did.

So, what's the big hurry
in taking him into jail, Roy?

It don't make no difference
whether he's guilty or whether he ain't.

At this stage of the game,
I've got to take him into custody

for the protection of, well, the
people in Virginia City, you Cartwrights,

and the fella inside, if
he's really Thomas Bowers.

Hey, Pa, Bowers is nowhere
in the house. He's gone.

Can't be.

Hold it, mister.

You ain't going nowhere.

I'm taking you into custody.

He's doing it for your
good, Mr. Bowers.

Oh, is he?

Look, I've been trying to give
you the benefit of the doubt.

But if you ain't that slave,
what are you trying to run off for?

Because I've had enough
of Virginia City fair play

and because I think I'm the
best judge of what's good for me.

I can't go along with that.

Now, I can stop a man like Sam Kiley
from doing something out in the open,

but I can't stop him from
sneaking around in private

getting people all stirred
up. You understand?

He's right. He's
absolutely right.

There's no telling how far a
man like Sam Kiley will try to go.

Yes, yes, I know.

Well, I suppose I don't really
have any choice in this matter, do I?

Not until I get
positive identification.

Now, as soon as
I get back to town,

I'll wire Saint Louis for
pictures and further information,

but that's gonna
take a few days.

Meanwhile you better
come along with me.

It's your move, Hoss.


You moved there, right?

You don't seem to have
your mind on the game.

You got another visitor.

From what I hear about her cooking,
she's gonna be more than welcome.

She'd be more than welcome
with or without cooking.

How do you do, Ms. Caroline?

There's enough here for you
too, Mr. Cartwright. Have some.

Well, thank you, ma'am.
I might just do that.

Oh, this is
wonderful. Wonderful.

You will stay and have
some with us, won't you?

No, I have to get home to Pa.
He's waiting for his lunch too.

Oh, yes, I heard what happened
to your father. I'm very sorry.

Oh, Pa is fine.
Better than ever.

Well, I'm glad to hear that.

Still, I can't help but feel
that if I hadn't come here,

all of this wouldn't
have happened.

If you hadn't come
here, Mr. Bowers,

Pa may never have faced
something very important.

I hope you enjoy your lunch.

- Oh, we will. Thank you very much.
- Bye, Ms. Caroline.

I'll be back later to
pick up the dish, sheriff.

Any old time, Ms. Caroline.

Hello, Ms. Gable.

Oh, this is just too much,
sheriff. This is too dreadful.

- What...?
- I just heard the news

about Mr. Bowers or
whoever the man is.

With all those tickets sold

and people coming from miles
around to hear the great opera singer.

Oh, what shall I do?

Well, you can always
get a substitute.

Now, Minnie Watkins has just
been chopping at the bit to sing.

No, that's impossible. I've
already turned her down once.

And I won't humiliate
myself by asking her now.

Well, that's up to you. All I know is
that Bowers won't be able to make it.

Bowers. From the very first, I
was against having that man sing.

- You were?
- Of course.

Only I let Mr. Walker talk me
out of cancelling the concert.

How will I ever
explain to the audience

that the great opera singer that
I've been advertising all over town

is nothing but a runaway
slave wanted by the police?

Now, Mrs. Gable, I'm afraid
you've got your facts confused.

Now, Mr. Bowers and the runaway
slave are two distinct personages.

It's just that we ain't sure which
one we got in that jail cell there.

What's the difference? You
and I both know they're all alike.

Never mind, Hoss. I've
heard that kind of talk before.

Many, many times.


I reckon if one heard it enough
that he'd finally get used to it.

No, you never get used to it.

Oh, I do hope there
won't be a hitch.

Oh, I wonder how they'll
take my announcement

that you're going to sing.

Well, look who's here.

Well, look at that.

Walking right in here as though
they're as good as other folks.

Got a lot of gall
coming in here.

Jed, you got a short memory.

You don't frighten
me anymore, Mr. Kiley.

Maybe you can still hurt me,
but you don't frighten me anymore.

Maybe we'll see about
that some other time, Jed.

I am a man of peace, but I
ain't running away anymore.

Excuse me, please.
Caroline, Jed.

- I have a couple of seats for you.
- Thank you, Mr. Cartwright.

It's a free country, ain't it?

Those Cartwrights think
they own the whole town.

- Did you see that?
- Hey, pipe down, Sam.

The fun's beginning.

Uh, ladies and gentlemen,

I, uh, regret to tell you that due
to unavoidable circumstances,

our famous guest
star, Thomas Bowers,

will not appear tonight.

Uh, Mrs. Gable, why don't you tell
them why he's not gonna be here?

Because we're being cheated.

There ain't no Thomas Bowers.

There's just that runaway
slave over there in the jail.

And you can thank
me that he's over there

and not free to run
around and kill somebody.

Yeah, we want our money back.

We want our money back.

Quiet, please.
Ladies and gentlemen.

Ladies and gentlemen,
will you please be quiet?


Now, let's not forget why
we're holding this concert.

It's for a worthy cause.

So that we can buy food
and medicine and supplies

for an Indian tribe
that needs your help,

and they need your help this
year very badly. You know that.

Thank you, Mr. Cartwright.

As I was saying before I
was so rudely interrupted,

Ms. Minnie Watkins has graciously
consented to stand in for Mr. Bowers

and furnish us with several
of her delightful selections.

Uh, but first our esteemed
pianist, Simon Reed,

will open our
concert with, uh...

Uh, "The Turkish Rondo"
by Wolfgang Mozart.

Where's the sheriff?

Probably in his office.

Oh, I didn't look there. I thought
everybody was gonna be here.

I got this message here for
him about that runaway slave.

Come on, let's go.

"Sheriff Roy Coffee,
Virginia City, Nevada.

In re: your inquiry, runaway
slave Ezekiah Randolph,

latest report confirms
he is not in your territory.

Last seen heading
for Canadian border.

G. Williams. Chief of
Police, Saint Louis, Missouri."

What did I tell you?

Well, don't just stand
there gaping, boy.

Get over to Mrs.
Gable at the concert hall

- and tell her Mr. Bowers will sing.
- Yes, sir. Right away.

Mr. Bowers, we got
some good news for you.

You're free.

I heard. BEN: Yes, sir.

Just in time for you to get over
to the concert for your first song.

I don't intend to do
any singing here.


Try and put yourself in
my place, Mr. Cartwright.

Try and imagine yourself being
hated, despised for no reason whatever.

From the moment I stepped
off the stage into this town,

I've been treated like
something subhuman.

An animal.

How could you ask me
to sing for people like this?

Mr. Bowers,

a man,

a sensitive man like yourself,

surely realizes that the
Sam Kileys of this world

must find someone
they can belittle,

someone they can
make feel subhuman,

in order to somehow make
themselves feel more important.


I'm not worried about the
Sam Kileys and that kind.

I made up my mind a long time ago
not to have anything to do with them.

But, Tom, what about
all the other folks?

I mean, that hall over there
is packed plum full of folks

who came just to hear you sing.

Don't fool yourself.

They came to see a freak, a
black man that sings Italian opera.

That's better than
a dancing bear.

Well, I, uh...

I guess I'd better get
over to the concert hall

and tell them you
won't be singing.

I'd appreciate that.

Well, I'm sorry to
let you down, Hoss.

Don't worry about that, Tom.

You know, it's sort of funny.

It's kind of hard to
explain, but it's like...

Well, it's...

It's sort of like you ain't acting
no different from that Ms. Gable.

Now, I know you're angry.
I can understand that.

Good Lord only knows you
got plenty of reason to be.

But, Tom, supposing the
whole town was against you.

Now, are you gonna
change anything

or make anything
better by running out?

You know, I sort of had you figured
for a braver man than that, Tom.

Look here.

There's some folks that's
gonna always be on your side.

And of course there's always gonna
be a few that ain't never gonna be.

And we both know that, don't we?

But what about all them other folks
that ain't made up their minds yet?

And that hall over there
is packed plum full of folks

just waiting to
make up their minds.

Are you gonna pass up this
opportunity by running out on them too?

Appear to me Oh, my love

My sight, my light All my life

So beautiful

That my heart
Anxiously is waiting

The beauty wounded
And made me fall in love

It will ne'er be
erased From my heart

The thought that my heart...

The thought that our heart...

Hey, Sam, I bet
you never thought

you'd get knocked flat by
one of them opry singers, huh?

You got a big mouth.
You know that?


Bravo. MAN 1: Encore.


Thank you very much,
ladies and gentlemen.

You've been very kind.

Sing us another one, Mr. Bowers.

I'd be very happy to.

From the works of the distinguished
composer of Italian opera, Rossini,

I'd like to sing the "La Calunnia"
aria from The Barber of Seville.

Bravo! Bravo!

- Bravo!
- More!

Behind the Scenes of Enter Thomas Bowers

Producer David Dortort encountered resistance from sponsor General Motors during the production of this episode, which aired during the tumultuous era of the civil rights movement. Despite this, Dortort ensured that the episode was included in the summer reruns, although two stations in the South refused to air it and preempted its broadcast.

Thomas Bowers, portrayed in the episode, was a real-life African-American opera singer from the 19th century.

While the description of the runaway slave in the episode may have borne some resemblance to Thomas Bowers, their singing voices would have been distinct. Thomas could have easily proven his identity by singing for the sheriff; the voice of such a renowned singer would have been unmistakable and impossible to replicate.

Looking for More Bonanza Episodes?

Bonanza is a remarkable family-friendly series, perfect for individual enjoyment and shared viewing with family and friends. Episode 164, titled Enter Thomas Bowers, contributes to the series’ extensive collection of 430 episodes. Produced by NBC, Bonanza graced television screens from September 1959 to January 1973, boasting 14 seasons.

You can find more about any of the 430 Bonanza episodes here>>

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