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Lorne Greene

Lorne Greene is a legend in the history of television. Best known for his portrayal of Ben Cartwright on the hit primetime series, Bonanza, he became the quintessential father figure of the 1960s, providing a standard for family values that helped pave the way for family programming.

Bonanza originally aired on NBC from 1959 through 1973. It was one of television's most successful programs in a time when the western genre ruled the ratings. As one of the most popular shows of the 1960s, 431 episodes were produced and it eventually aired to viewers in 64 countries.

Lorne Greene gave Ben Cartwright a voice of compassion, dignity and moral steadfastness. Television has immortalized his character as the Ponderosa's benevolent patriarch. Three times a widower, with three sons to raise, Ben Cartwright fosters, respect, confidence, kindness and tolerance.

The Canadian born actor was the son of Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union and it's said that Greene's interpretation of Ben Cartwright is based upon his father's fine character. While wonderful scripts and themes contributed to the popularity of the series, its timeless success is in large measure a tribute to the depth, talent and inspirational guidance of Lorne Greene.

Lorne Greene's career began in broadcasting where his deep, beautiful voice made him a natural for radio. He was hired by The Canadian Broadcasting Company as a news announcer and became known as The Voice of Canada during the second World War. He also served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and is credited with founding the Academy of Radio Arts in Canada.

Greene invented a stopwatch that could run backwards. It was designed to provide a countdown timer that on-air newsmen could use to pace themselves during the closing seconds of a segment. In 1953, while visiting NBC in Manhattan to market the timepiece, he ran into a producer from Canada.

Offered a part on the television series Studio One, Lorne Greene launched his professional acting career. His made his feature film debut in 1951 in Silver Chalice, playing the Apostle Peter. Green appeared in numerous films including the famed Peyton Place in 1957 in which he portrayed a prosecuting attorney.

A role on the western television series Wagon Train starring Ward Bond in 1959 marked a turning point for Greene. A producer, David Dortort, saw his work on the popular show and subsequently cast the six-foot-one actor for the father in Bonanza.

Greene also starred in an array of Broadway plays, films and television shows. Some of his other credits include his portrayal of Commander Adama in both the TV series Battlestar Galactica, and the telefilms Battlestar Galactica, Curse of the Cylons, and Mission Galactica, The Cylon Attack, the miniseries, Roots, Griff, Earthquake, The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald, and Code Red.

Lorne Green also had a very successful and continuous recording career. He recorded stories to music, theme songs and narrated wilderness programs many of which became hits.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

Lorne Greene Facts

Birth Name Lorne Hyman Greene
BirthdayFebruary 12, 1915
BirthplaceOttawa, Ontario, Canada
Date of deathSeptember 11, 1987 (age 72)
Height5' 10" (1m78)  How tall is Lorne Greene compared to you?

Selected Filmography

A Rose for Lotta
All Hat
Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Epic Series
4 Family Favorites: Greatest Adventures of the Bible
Battlestar Galactica
The Hard Man
Joan Crawford in the 1950s
Bonanza: Season 1-50th Anniversary Edition
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