Question: I recently saw an episode of Bonanza starring an African-American man singing opera. My friend said it was Paul Robeson. Is that correct? Tracy, East Orange, N.J.
Televisionary: Nope. That was William Marshall, who later went on to star as Blacula in the infamous '70s blaxploitation movies and also popped up as The King of Cartoons on Pee-wee's Playhouse.
For those who aren't familiar with the Season 5 episode, "Enter Thomas Bowers," originally broadcast April 26, 1964, focused on a famous Italian opera singer's trip to Virginia City. When he arrived and the good citizens of the town realized he was black, he faced all sorts of discrimination, culminating in the Cartwrights taking him in for his own protection when their neighbors began to suspect he was an escaped slave.