Hoss and the Leprechauns was an episode on the western adventure BONANZA/NBC/1959-73 (Episode No. 146 aired 12/22/1963).
While fishing on the shores of a lake, Hoss Cartwright (Dan Blocker) hears a cry for help from a little man clad in green who has been treed by a bear. Hoss shoots his gun to scare the bear away and both the bear and little man scurry away. The little man hides from Hoss inside a hollow log.
It is then Hoss finds small digging tools and a newly buried strong-box of gold dust. He yells to the little man and asks if the box belongs to him, but the little man stays hidden. With no one claiming the box, Hoss hefts his heavy load back to the Ponderosa ranch. Along the way, Hoss rehearses what he is going to say, because he knows he will have a hard time explaining what happened.
When Hoss tells his family that he suspects the little green man may be a leprechaun, his brothers, Little Joe (Michael Landon) and Adam (Pernell Roberts) break into laughter.
Meanwhile, the little man reports the lose of the gold dust to four other little men. Later, that night the little men break into the Cartwright’s home and retrieve the strongbox. The next day patriarch Ben Cartwright (Lorne Green) and Hoss go to town to report the strange crime to the sheriff.
Unfortunately, an Irishman in town named Professor James Aloysius McCarthy (Sean McClory) convinces the good folks of Virginia City, Nevada that the little green men are real, and suddenly the Ponderosa ranch is overrun with leprechaun hunters in search of a quick fortune.
The little men turn out to be runaway carnival performers who were living in the woods and looking to start a new life of their own. The gold in the strongbox was their collective earnings and the Irishman in town was their shady manager who was trying to get them back.
After foiling McCarthy’s plan and stopping the mad rush for gold on the Ponderosa, Hoss makes a sympathetic speech in favor of letting the little men live in the Nevada territory. In the end, the people of Virginia City invite the little men to be citizens of their fair town.
NOTE: The diminutive actors who played the little green-clad men were Frank Delfino as Timothy, the leader of the group; Harry Monty as Michael; Felix Silla as Sean; Nels P. Nelson as Audie; and Roger Arroyo as Bobby.
THE ADVENTURES OF ANNIE OAKLEY featured an episode called “Annie and the Leprechauns” (aired September 1956).
While riding in the desert, Annie and Tagg meet Tim Lafferty, a strange old Irishman who claims to be searching for treasure with the help of leprechauns who followed him to America from the Auld Country. When a neighbor tries to gain possession of the Biddle family ranch by killing Eliza’s brother, Tim proves invaluable to Annie and Lofty by helping them smoke out the killers.
Tim Lafferty: Well, it isn’t everybody that can be born in old Ireland and have the gift of the silver tongue from the leprechauns.
Tagg Oakley: Leprechauns? What are they?
Tim Lafferty: They’re the little people – the wee folk from the elves and the fairies.
Tagg Oakley: Gosh. They’re not real, are they?
Tim Lafferty: Well, they’re just as real as you and me to them that can see them. They’re all around me. They followed me from the Auld Sod.
Hoss and the Leprechauns – Full Episode (Video)
Funny Moment from “Hoss and The Leprechauns” (Video)
Clips from “Hoss and The Leprechauns” (Video)
The Adventures of Annie Oakley Series – “Annie and the Leprechauns” (Video)