Lorne Greene, 1969
|Born||Lyon Himan Green
February 12, 1915
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
|Died||September 11, 1987
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Spouse(s)||Rita Hands (1938 – 1960)
Nancy Deale (December 17, 1961 – September 11, 1987; his death)
|Children||Belinda Susan Bennet (née Greene)
Gillian Dania Greene
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.
Greene was born in Ottawa, Ontario on February 12, 1915, to Russian Jewish immigrants, Daniel, a shoemaker, and Dora Green (Grinovsky). 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.
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 also 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.
Greene 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. It helped radio announcers gauge how much time was left, while speaking. He also narrated documentary films, such as the National Film Board of Canada's Fighting Norway (1943). In 1957 Greene played the prosecutor in Peyton Place.
Actress and theater producer 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.
The first of his continuing TV roles was as the patriarch Ben Cartwright in Bonanza; the first one-hour western series filmed in color (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 "Pa" Benjamin 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 about 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 Griff failed to gain sufficient ratings and was cancelled after thirteen episodes, Greene thereafter hosted the syndicated nature documentary series Last of the Wild from 1974 to 1975. 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" . 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 feature film and 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 also made an appearance with 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. He also 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).
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, Belinda Susan Bennet (née Greene) and Charles Greene.
Greene underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 1985.
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. Weeks before his death, he had signed to appear in a revival of Bonanza, whose storyline included characters played by his own daughter Gillian, along with Michael Landon, Jr.
He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada on October 28, 1969, "For services to the Performing Arts and to the community." He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by his alma mater, Queen's University, in 1971. Greene 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.
TV and filmography
- Churchill's Island (1941) as narrator
- Warclouds in the Pacific (1941) as narrator
- Inside Fighting China (1941) as narrator
- Fighting Sea-Fleas (1944) as narrator
- Studio One's (1948) as O'Brien
- 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
- Sailor of Fortune (26 episodes, 1955–1956) as Capt. Grant 'Mitch' Mitchell
- Producers' Showcase (three episodes, 1955–1957) — Julius Caesar, Gorgas
- 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 Last of the Fast Guns (1958) — Michael O'Reilly
- 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
- Destiny of a Spy (1969) — Peter Vanin
- Swing Out, Sweet Land (1970) — George Washington
- The Harness (1971) — Peter Randall
- The Special London Bridge Special (1972) — Fiddler on the Roof
- Tidal Wave (1973) — Ambassador Warren Richards
- Griff (13 episodes, 1973–1974) — Wade Griffin
- Rex Harrison Presents Stories of Love (1974)
- Earthquake (1974) — Sam Royce
- Nevada Smith (1975) — Jonas Cord
- Man on the Outside (1975) — Wade Griffin
- Arthur Hailey's 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
- The Little Brown Burro (1978) — Storyteller (voice)
- 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 (ten episodes, 1980) as Commander Adama
- Living Legend: The King of Rock and Roll (1980)
- 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
- A Gift of Music (1981) — Host
- Code Red (1981) — Battalion Chief Joe Rorchek
- Ozu no mahôtsukai (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
|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|
|Have a Happy Holiday||54|
|1966||Portrait of the West||—|
|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|
|1969||"It's All in the Game"||—||—||—||—|
|1970||"Daddy (I'm Proud to Be Your Son)"||—||—||—||—|
|1976||"Spirit of America"||—||—||—||—|
- Bennett, Linda Greene (November 1, 2004). My Father's Voice: The Biography of Lorne Greene (Paperback ed.). iUniverse, Inc. p. 254. ISBN 978-0-595-33283-0.
- "Lorne Greene, TV Patriarch, Is Dead" (New York Times, September 12, 1987)
- The Torment of Beethoven (October 6, 1802) at the Internet Movie Database
- Last of the Wild (documentary, hosted by Lorne Greene) At Classic Themes.com
- "Eating your own dogfood". Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- Bonanza’s Canadian Lorne Greene | Bite Size Canada https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/bonanzas-canadian-lorne-greene/
- "Lorne Greene – Postage Stamp". Google Search. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
- "Order of Canada". Gg.ca. 2009-04-30. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
- "Queen's Encyclopedia". Qnc.queensu.ca. 1995-11-07. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
- "2010 Krewe of Bacchus New Orleans Mardi Gras Parade Schedule 2010". Mardi Gras Parade Schedule. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
- Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 376. ISBN 0-89820-188-8.
- Lorne Greene at the Internet Movie Database
- Lorne Greene at the Internet Broadway Database
- Photos of Lorne Greene's grave at Findagrave