Culture Wikia
This article is about the Canadian actor and musician. For the Canadian-born English politician and former diplomat, see Lorne Green.

<templatestyles src="Module:Infobox/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Lorne Greene
File:Lorne Greene - 1969.jpg
Greene in 1969
Lyon Himan Green

(1915-02-12)February 12, 1915
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
DiedSeptember 11, 1987(1987-09-11) (aged 72)
Cause of deathPneumonia
Other namesChaim Green
Lorne Hyman Greene
OccupationsActor and musician/singer
Years active1939–1987
  • Rita Hands (1938–1960; divorced)
  • Nancy Deale (1961–1987; his death)

Lorne Hyman Greene,[1] Lua error: expandTemplate: template "post-nominals/CAN" does not exist. (born Lyon Himan Green;[2] February 12, 1915 – September 11, 1987) was a Canadian actor, radio personality, and singer.

His television roles include Ben Cartwright on the western Bonanza, and Commander Adama in the science fiction television series Battlestar Galactica and Galactica 1980. He also worked on the Canadian television nature documentary series Lorne Greene's New Wilderness, and in television commercials.

Early life and career in Canada[]

Template:Moresources Greene was born Lyon Himan Green in Ottawa, Ontario,[2] to Russian Jewish immigrants, Dora (née Grinovsky) and Daniel Green, a shoemaker.[3] He was called "Chaim" by his mother, and his name is shown as "Hyman" on his school report cards. In his biography, the author, his daughter Linda Greene Bennett, stated that it was not known when he began using "Lorne", nor when he added an "e" to Green.[2] Greene was the drama instructor at Camp Arowhon, a summer camp in Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada, where he developed his talents.

Greene began acting while attending Queen's University in Kingston, where he acquired a knack for broadcasting with the Radio Workshop of the university's Drama Guild on the campus radio station CFRC. He gave up on a career in chemical engineering and, upon graduation, found a job as a radio broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). During World War II Green served as a Flying officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was assigned as the principal newsreader on the CBC National News. The CBC gave him the nickname "The Voice of Canada"; however, his role in delivering distressing war news in sonorous tones with his deep, resonant voice following Canada's entry into World War II in 1939 caused many listeners to call him "The Voice of Doom", particularly since he was delegated the assignment of reading the dreaded list of soldiers killed in the war. During his radio days, Greene invented a stopwatch that ran backwards;[4] this helped radio announcers gauge how much time was left, while speaking.

He narrated documentary films, such as the National Film Board of Canada's Fighting Norway (1943). In 1957 Greene played the prosecutor in Peyton Place. Katharine Cornell cast him twice in her Broadway productions. In 1953, he was cast in The Prescott Proposals. In that same year, she cast him in a verse drama by Christopher Fry, The Dark is Light Enough. Greene began appearing in isolated episodes on live television in the 1950s. In 1953, he was seen in the title role of a one-hour adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello. In 1955 he was Ludwig van Beethoven in an episode of the TV version of You Are There. In 1954 he made his Hollywood debut as Saint Peter in The Silver Chalice and made several more films and appearances on American television.[citation needed]

American television[]


File:Lorne Greene Ben Cartwright Bonanza.JPG

Greene as Ben Cartwright 1959

File:Mesa-Ponderosa House II-1963-1.JPG

Greene's Ponderosa II House in Mesa, Arizona

The first of his continuing TV roles was as the patriarch Ben "Pa" Cartwright in Bonanza; the first one-hour western series filmed in colour (1959–1973), making Greene a household name. He garnered the role after his performance as O'Brien in the CBS production of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

In the 1960s, Greene capitalized on his image as Benjamin "Pa" Cartwright by recording several albums of country-western/folk songs, which Greene performed in a mixture of spoken word and singing. In 1964, Greene had a #1 single on the music charts with his spoken-word ballad, "Ringo" (which referred to the real-life Old West outlaw Johnny Ringo, not to Ringo Starr of the Beatles), and got a lot of play time from "Saga of the Ponderosa", which detailed the Cartwright founding of the famous ranch.

In 1973, after the cancellation of Bonanza following a 14-year run, Greene joined Ben Murphy in the ABC crime drama, Griff, about a Los Angeles, California, police officer, Wade "Griff" Griffin, who retires to become a private detective. When it failed to gain sufficient ratings and was cancelled after 13 episodes, Greene thereafter hosted the syndicated nature documentary series Last of the Wild from 1974-75.[5]

In the 1977 miniseries Roots, he played the first master of Kunta Kinte, John Reynolds. Through the 1970s, Greene was the spokesman for Alpo Beef Chunks dog food commercials, one of the possible origins of the phrase "Eating your own dog food.[6] In 2007, TV Guide listed Ben Cartwright as the nation's second most popular TV Father (behind Cliff Huxtable). Greene was also known for his role as Commander Adama, another patriarchal figure, in the science fiction television series Battlestar Galactica (1978–1979) and Galactica 1980 (1980). Greene's typecasting as a wise father character continued with the 1981 series, Code Red as a Fire Department Fire Chief whose command includes his children as subordinates. Greene made an appearance with his former Bonanza co-star Michael Landon on an episode of Highway to Heaven.

In the 1980s Greene devoted his energies to wildlife and environmental issues and he was the host and narrator of the nature series, Lorne Greene's New Wilderness a show which promoted environmental awareness.[7]

He appeared in the HBO mockumentary The Canadian Conspiracy, about the supposed subversion of the United States by Canadian-born media personalities. For nearly a decade, Greene co-hosted the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC. He is also fondly remembered as the founder of Toronto's Academy of Radio Arts (originally called the Lorne Greene School of Broadcasting).[citation needed]

Personal life[]

Template:Unsourced Greene was married twice, first to Rita Hands of Toronto (1938–1960, divorced). Some reports list the start of their marriage as 1940. They had two children, twins born in 1945: Charles Greene and Mrs. Belinda Susan Bennett. His second wife was Nancy Deale (1961–1987, Greene's death), with whom he had one child, Gillian Dania Greene.

The Ponderosa II House was built by Greene in 1960 in Mesa, Arizona. It is located at 602 S. Edgewater Drive. It is a replica of the Bonanza set house from the former Ponderosa Ranch in Incline Village, Nevada. It is listed in the Mesa Historic Property Register.


Greene underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 1985.[citation needed] Greene died on September 11, 1987 at age 72 of complications from pneumonia, following ulcer surgery, in Santa Monica, California. He was interred at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City.[citation needed][8] Weeks before his death, Greene had signed to appear in a revival of Bonanza, whose storyline included characters played by his own daughter Gillian, along with Michael Landon Jr.


Greene was made an Officer of the Order of Canada on October 28, 1969, "For services to the Performing Arts and to the community."[9]

Greene was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by his alma mater, Queen's University, in 1971.[10] He was the 1987 recipient of the Earle Grey Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Canadian Gemini Awards. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1559 N. Vine Street.

In May 2006, Greene became one of the first four entertainers to ever be honoured by Canada Post by being featured on a 51-cent postage stamp.[8]

In February 1985, Greene was the Krewe of Bacchus King of Mardi Gras.[11]

Greene was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2015.[12]

Select television and movie filmography[]

  • Churchill's Island (1941) as narrator
  • Warclouds in the Pacific (1941) as narrator
  • Inside Fighting China (1941) as narrator
  • Flight 6 (1944) as narrator
  • Othello (1953) (television) as Othello
  • The Philip Morris Playhouse (one episode, 1953) — Joe
  • Omnibus (one episode, 1953) — Ed Bailey
  • Danger (one episode, 1954) — Stranger
  • The Silver Chalice (1954) — Saint Peter
  • Justice (one episode, 1954, "The Desperate One")
  • You Are There (three episodes, 1954–1955) — Ludwig van Beethoven, Charles Stewart Parnell
  • Tight Spot (1955) — Benjamin Costain
  • Climax! (one episode, 1955) — Dr. Charles Saunders
  • The Elgin Hour (one episode, 1955) — Vernon Dyall
  • Studio 57 (one episode, 1955) — Gentry Morton
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents (one episode, 1956) — Mr. X
  • Autumn Leaves (1956) — Mr. Hanson
  • The Alcoa Hour (one episode, 1956) — Sheriff Gash
  • Armstrong Circle Theatre (one episode, 1956) — Angelina
  • The United States Steel Hour (one episode, 1956) — Dallas
  • Kraft Television Theatre (one episode, 1957) — Col. Matthews
  • Playhouse 90 (one episode, 1957) — Lowell Williams
  • Studio One (five episodes, 1953–1957)
  • Peyton Place (1957) — Prosecutor
  • The Hard Man (1957) — Rice Martin
  • The Gift of Love (1958) — Grant Allan
  • Suspicion (one episode, 1958)
  • Shirley Temple's Storybook (one episode, 1958) — King Bertrand
  • The Buccaneer (1958) — Mercier
  • The Trap (1959) — Davis
  • Bonanza (431 episodes, 1959–1973) — Ben Cartwright
  • The Third Man (one episode, 1959)
  • The Gale Storm Show (one episode, 1959) — Constable Barnaby
  • Mike Hammer (two episodes, 1959) — Carl Kunard, Emmett Gates
  • Bronco (one episode, 1959) — Capt. Amos Carr
  • Wagon Train (one episode, 1959) as Christopher Webb
  • Cheyenne (two episodes, 1960) — Colonel Bell
  • Tidal Wave (1973) — Ambassador Warren Richards
  • Griff (13 episodes, 1973–1974) — Wade Griffin
  • Earthquake (1974) — Sam Royce
  • Nevada Smith (1975) — Jonas Cord
  • The Moneychangers (1976) — George Quartermain
  • Roots (two episodes, 1977) — John Reynolds
  • SST: Death Flight (1977) — Marshall Cole
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (two episodes, 1977) — Inspector Hans Stavlin
  • The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald (1977) — Matthew Arnold Watson
  • Yabba Dabba Doo! The Happy World of Hanna-Barbera (1977) — Special Guest
  • The Bastard (1978) — Bishop Francis
  • Battlestar Galactica (21 episodes, 1978–1979) — Commander Adama
  • The Love Boat (three episodes, 1979–1982) — Buck Hamilton, Buddy Bowers
  • Klondike Fever (1980) — Sam Steele
  • Galactica 1980 (10 episodes, 1980) as Commander Adama
  • Pink Lady (one episode, 1980)
  • Vega$ (two episodes, 1980) — Emil Remick
  • A Time for Miracles (1980) — Bishop John Carroll
  • Aloha Paradise (one episode, 1981) — Businessman
  • Code Red (1981) — Battalion Chief Joe Rorchek
  • The Wizard of Oz (1982) — The Wizard (voice)
  • Code Red (12 episodes, 1981–1982) — Battalion Chief Joe Rorchek
  • Police Squad! (one episode, 1982) — Stabbed Man
  • Heidi's Song (1982) — Grandfather (voice)
  • Highway to Heaven (one episode, 1985) — Fred Fusco
  • Noah's Ark (1986) — Noah (voice)
  • Vasectomy: A Delicate Matter (1986) — Theo Marshall
  • The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory (1987) — Gen. Sam Houston



Year Album US Label
1961 Robin Hood of El Dorado MGM
1962 Bonanza Ponderosa Party Time RCA
1963 Young at Heart
Christmas on the Ponderosa
1964 Peter and the Wolf
Welcome to the Ponderosa 35
1965 The Man
American West
Have a Happy Holiday 54
1966 Portrait of the West


Year Single Chart Positions Album
CAN Country US
US Country US AC
1962 "My Sons My Sons" Robin Hood of El Dorado
1963 "I'm the Same Ole Me" single only
1964 "Ringo" 1 21 1 Welcome to the Ponderosa
1965 "The Man" 3 72 The Man
"Ol' Tin Cup" Welcome to the Ponderosa
1966 "Five Card Stud" 112 American West
"Daddy's Little Girl" singles only
"Waco" 50
1969 "It's All in the Game"
1970 "Daddy (I'm Proud to Be Your Son)"
"First Word"
1976 "Spirit of America"

See also[]

Lua error: bad argument #2 to '' (unrecognized namespace name 'Portal').


  1. Lorne Hyman Greene per Social Security records,; accessed October 6, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Bennett, Linda Greene (1 November 2004). My Father's Voice: The Biography of Lorne Greene (Paperback ed.). iUniverse, Inc. p. 254. ISBN 978-0-595-33283-0.
  3. "Newsmakers 1988". Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  4. "Lorne Greene, TV Patriarch, Is Dead", New York Times, September 12, 1987.
  5. Last of the Wild (documentary, hosted by Lorne Greene) At Classic
  6. Eating your own dogfood#Origin
  7. "Bonanza's Canadian Lorne Greene | Bite Size Canada". Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Lorne Greene – Postage Stamp". Google Search. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  9. "Order of Canada". 30 April 2009. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  10. "Queen's Encyclopedia". 7 November 1995. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  11. "2010 Krewe of Bacchus New Orleans Mardi Gras Parade Schedule 2010". Mardi Gras Parade Schedule. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
  12. "Canada's Walk of Fame 2015 Inductees". Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  13. Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 376. ISBN 0-89820-188-8.

External links[]

Template:BattlestarGalacticaTopics Template:Bonanza