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Lorne Greene Wed 'Extraordinary Bright' 'Bonanza' Co-star Who Sacrificed Her Career for Him

Oyin Balogun
Jan 23, 2022
12:20 A.M.
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While many celebrity couples go about their usual lifestyle after marriage, movie icon Lorne Greene married "Extraordinary Bright" star Nancy Deale, who gave up her career for him. Here is a thorough outline of the couple's relationship timeline.


From acting to being a radio personality and a musician, Canadian movie star Lorne Greene has donned many hats in the entertainment industry. For the entirety of his long-standing career, Greene starred in various hit movies and won numerous awards.

However, the movie icon experienced love away from the screen. He fell head over heels for a woman he married and divorced after almost 22 years but found love again when he met Nancy Deale.

Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright on "Bonanza" [left] Lorne Greene and his wife Nancy, attending the reception for the Annual Golden Globe Awards, Ambassador Hotel, California, February 12th 1964 [right]. | Photo: Getty Images



Although famous for being Ben Cartwright on "Western Bonanza," Greene starred in other bankable movies before his ultimate end. Born Lyon Himan "Chaim" Green, the actor started his acting career while attending Canada's Queen University.

However, after graduation, he got a job in radio broadcasting, and his rich baritone voice catapulted him to fame as one of Canada's top newscasters. But in the early 1950s, Greene decided he wanted to follow his initial interests as an actor and took to Hollywood.

It wasn't long before he began appearing regularly in TV, films, and on the radio. While Greene enjoyed his time as a rising star, his marriage faced serious difficulties that threatened to end it. 


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

Greene was married twice in his lifetime. Despite being married for many years, he and his first wife called it quits. However, he found love again with actress Deale who remained his wife till his death.



When Greene and Deale first met, it wasn't love at first sight. The two bonded after many disagreements and several arguments about acting, philosophy, and politics. But, their fights led to a positive result as they later became sweethearts.

Upon becoming friends, they realized they had more similarities than differences. Once during an interview, Greene described the actress as an extraordinary Bright, and talented individual. He also said it would have been wicked to try and change Deale's personally in any way.


Greene and his "Bonanza" co-star tied the knot on December 28, 1969. Deale and the "Earthquake" actor had known each other for three years before walking down the aisle.

Deale, born on May 23, 1933, in Long Island, New York, was known for roles in movies such as 1950's "Shadows" and 1974's "Tattletales." She also starred in "Bonanza," and her career continued to take off until she decided to step aside and focus on her marriage.


Deale gave up her career as a movie star because she and Greene believed their careers might cause problems in the relationship geographically and emotionally. However, after many years Deale missed having a job so, she began associating with the Equal Rights Amendments.


Deale, an acclaimed artist, and poet studied Russian and Chinese at UCLA, which earned her a position as a foreign policy consultant and expert in Civil Defense. She worked as a consultant for years and co-founded the National Women's Political Caucus in Los Angeles.

Deale may have quit acting for her family, but her work afterward impacted the world at large. She became an advisor to senators Hubert Humphrey and Henry Jackson and founded the Women's Institute of International Relations. 

The institution works to educate women on military and foreign policy issues. It also supports their professional involvement in U.S. foreign policy institutions. Deale further became part of the prestigious Center for Arms Control and Foreign Policy.



Playing Ben Cartwright on "Bonanza" sure brought Greene more wealth and fame than many actors in the 90s. However, while the late actor was happy with all the attention and fortune he got playing Ben Cartwright, nothing pleased him more than returning home to his wife and daughter Gillian.

In his giant secluded stunning home, Greene lived a different life away from the screen. In his home, which a reporter revealed was unacceptable to outsiders, Greene and his little girl notably loved dancing.

Even during an interview, Greene couldn't turn down Gillian's invitation. The doting dad once joked about how he lost 40 pounds just trying to keep up with Gillian's energy.


Lorne Greene and wife Nancy Deale attend 37th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 25, 1985 | Photo: Getty Images

Greene cherished his time on "Bonanza" and remained till the finale in 1973. However, the moments he spent with his little girl were most precious to him. During an interview, the Hollywood icon said:


"Every time I look at that child, I feel as though I were 25 years old."




" remained a fan favorite show even after its last episode on NBC, and it brought fame not only to Geene but other cast members. But the fame the show brought wasn't appropriated by some cast members, especially Dan Blocker.

Lorne Greene and wife Nancy Deale attend 16th Annual Humanitarian Awards Dinner on September 17, 1979 | Photo: Getty Images


Blocker did not appreciate that his privacy could be invaded at any time, and there was nothing he could do about it. Even when the movie star took his children out, fans often disturbed them. He once complained that he hated it when fans tugged him or tried to make any form of improper body contact.

However, the reverse was the case when it came to Greene. The late "Saga of a Star World" actor, who was also the vice-chairman of the American Horse Protection Association, which works to protect horses from abuse and neglect, once said:

"And the truth is, I like the recognition and the autograph seekers and everything else that goes with being a TV star. It also helps me with the work I do for Medic Alert, Council, and protecting horses."


Actor Lorne Greene and his wife Nancy Deale attend a party in Los Angeles, California, circa 1962. | Photo: Getty Images

Sadly fans of Ben Cartwright will no longer see him in future productions as the Hollywood icon died at 72 after a long-standing career. He was surrounded by his wife Deale and three children at his death.

Greene died at Saint John's Hospital, where he underwent abdominal surgery for a perforated ulcer. While recovering, he developed pneumonia and sometimes required an oxygen tank to help him breathe.