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Life and Death of Beloved 'Bonanza' Actor Lorne Greene

Edduin Carvajal
Nov 25, 2020
12:00 P.M.
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The late actor and singer Lorne Greene, also known for portraying Ben Cartwright in "Bonanza," had a very prolific career before dying in September 1987.


Born in February 1915, Lorne Greene started his career as an actor while studying at Queen’s University in Canada. Following his graduation, he landed a job in radio broadcasting.

Greene soon earned people’s respect with his deep and resonating voice, which is why he soon became Canada’s top radio newscaster.

Lorne Greene in a publicity portrait for the TV series "Bonanza" in USA, circa 1970 | Photo: Getty Images

Lorne Greene in a publicity portrait for the TV series "Bonanza" in USA, circa 1970 | Photo: Getty Images



In the early 50s, he moved to California to pursue an acting career, and shortly after that, he started landing parts in TV shows like “The Philip Morris Playhouse” and “Sailor of Fortune.”

Greene’s most prominent role came his way in 1959 when he was cast as Ben Cartwright in the western TV show “Bonanza.” His character was so important for the story that he was one of the few actors to appear in every episode.


The actor was smart enough to use the fame he gathered from the show to promote his music career, releasing country and folk albums. One of his songs, “Ringo,” topped music charts in December 1964.

Most of the actors who also worked in “Bonanza” have died.


In 1963, while still working in “Bonanza,” Greene took a hosting gig in the “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” alongside Betty White, which also helped him gain more fame.

Even though Greene went on to appear in other famous TV shows and films like “Battlestar Galactica,” “Code Red,” and “Klondike Fever,” it was “Bonanza” that won over his heart.



He loved the show so much that he built a replica of the Ponderosa (where the Cartwrights lived on the TV series), the Ponderosa II, in Mesa, Arizona.

According to MeTV, the Ponderosa II served as a getaway destination for Greene and his wife, Nancy Deale. Deale was, in fact, very helpful in the creation of the replica.

Since she was a painter, she helped decorate the house’s interior, including the distinctive stone fireplace and Ben Cartwright’s famous office and desk.

Unfortunately, Greene passed away from pneumonia in 1987. He was 72 years old at the time. Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker, Ray Teal, Michael Landon, and most of the actors who also worked in “Bonanza” have died, too.

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