It was one of the first series to be filmed and broadcast in color and was sponsored by RCA – the maker of color TV sets.
RCA was so into promoting its new color TVs that it put out a press release titled “RCA-NBC Firsts in Color Television, a Chronological List of Significant Firsts by the Radio Corporation of America and the National Broadcasting Company in Color Television”.
It was published on March 27, 1955 as “News Information” by the Radio Corporation of America, RCA Building, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York 20, N.Y.
“Bonanza” certainly wasn’t the first broadcast in color; that honor went to “St. George and the Dragon” on the “Kukla, Fran, and Ollie Show”. This was the first publicly announced ‘experimental broadcast in compatible color TV’ of a network program and was presented on NBC on August 30, 1953 – a full 6 years before “Bonanza” debuted. This was followed by the first commercial in color on December 22, 1953, and then the next day, on December 23, 1953, NBC transmitted the first commercial TV program on color film: “Dragnet”.
Finally, on January 1, 1954, The Tournament of Roses, from Pasadena, California, was telecast in color by twenty-one stations of NBC’s first coast-to-coast color network. This colorcast marked a series of significant “firsts” in television history including: the first use of NBC’s new mobile color TV unit; the first West-to-East transcontinental transmission of color television; the first West Coast origination of a color program under compatible color standards; and the first broadcast of a network color program by a coast-to-coast series of stations.