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About Lorne Greene
Lorne Greene (February 12, 1915 – September 11, 1987), was the stage name of Lyon Hyman Green, OC, a Canadian actor. His television roles include Ben Cartwright on the western Bonanza, and Commander Adama in the science fiction movie and subsequent TV Series Battlestar Galactica. He also worked on the Canadian television nature documentary series Lorne Greene's New Wilderness, and in television commercials as a dog food spokesman.
Marriages and Children
Greene was married twice:
- Rita Hands of Toronto in 1938 (Some reports list the start of their marriage as 1940). They had twins, and divorced in 1960.
- Belinda Susan Greene (b. 1945, twin)
- Charles Greene (b. 1945, twin)
- Nancy Deale, married in 1961, with whom he had one child:
- Gillian Dania Greene, born January 6, 1968 in Los Angeles, California. In 1993, Gillian married actor/director/producer Sam Raimi; they have five children.
Greene was born in Ottawa, Ontario, to Russian Jewish immigrants, Daniel Greenand Dora Slavin. He was called "Chaim" by his mother, and his name is shown as "Hyman" on his school report cards. His biography, written by 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 began acting while attending Queen's University in Kingston, where he also began broadcasting on the campus radio station CFRC. Originally planning a career in chemical engineering, following graduation he instead took a job as a radio broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
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 following Canada's entry into World War II in 1939 caused many listeners to call him "The Voice of Doom". During his radio days, Greene invented a stopwatch that ran backwards. Its purpose was to help radio announcers gauge how much time they had available while speaking. He also narrated documentary films, such as the National Film Board of Canada's Fighting Norway (1943).
Actress and theater producer Katharine Cornell cast him in her Broadway productions of The Prescott Proposals and The Dark is Light Enough (both in 1953). In the same year, Greene began appearing on live television in the title role of a one-hour adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello. In 1955, he was cast as Ludwig van Beethoven in an episode of the televised version of You Are There.
In 1957 Greene played the role of the prosecutor in the movie Peyton Place. His performance as O'Brien in the CBS production of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, which garnered him his first continuing role in a TV series, as family patriarch Ben Cartwright on the western series Bonanza (1959–1973). Bonanza made Greene a household name.
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 police officer, Wade Griffin, who retires to become a private detective. Griff was cancelled after thirteen episodes, and Greene then 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. Greene was the spokesman for Alpo Beef Chunks dog food commercials throughout the 1970s. 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 Chief whose command includes his children as subordinates. Greene also made an appearance on Michael Landon's Highway to Heaven.
In the 1960s, Greene capitalized on his image as Ben 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 ballad, Ringo (which referred to the real-life Old West outlaw Johnny Ringo), and got a lot of play time from, Saga of the Ponderosa, which detailed the Cartwright founding of the famous ranch.
In the 1980s Greene devoted his energies to wildlife and environmental issues. 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 twins born in 1945, Belinda Susan and Charles Greene.
In 1961 he married Nancy Deale, with whom he had one child, Gillian Dania Greene, born January 6, 1968 in Los Angeles, California. In 1993, Gillian married actor/director/producer Sam Raimi; they have five children.
Greene died in 1987 of complications from prostate cancer in Santa Monica, California. He was interred at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City. Weeks before his death, he had been 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."
- He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by his alma mater, Queen's University, in 1971.
- In February 1985, Greene was the Krewe of Bacchus King of Mardi Gras.
- 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 North Vine Street, Hollywood, California.
- In May 2006, Greene became one of the first entertainers to be honored by Canada Post by being featured on a postage stamp.
- The Lorne Green Award, a scholarship established by Greene for drama students
- Churchill's Island (1941), narrator
- Warclouds in the Pacific (1941), narrator
- Inside Fighting China (1941). narrator
- Studio One's "1984" (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
- Nippon Chinbotsu (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
- 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) — Captain 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
Albums: Year — Album (Label)
- 1961 — Robin Hood of El Dorado (MGM)
- 1962 — Bonanza Ponderosa Party Time (RCA)
- 1963 — Young at Heart
- 1963 — Christmas on the Ponderosa
- 1964 — Peter and the Wolf
- 1964 — Welcome to the Ponderosa
- 1965 — The Man
- 1965 — American West
- 1965 — Have a Happy Holiday
- 1966 — Portrait of the West
Singles: Year — Single — Album
- 1962 — "My Sons My Sons" — Robin Hood of El Dorado
- 1963 — "I'm the Same Ole Me" (single only)
- 1964 — "Ringo" — Welcome to the Ponderosa
- 1965 — "The Man" — The Man
- 1965 — "Ol' Tin Cup" — Welcome to the Ponderosa
- 1966 — "Five Card Stud" — American West
- 1966 — "Daddy's Little Girl"1966 (single only)
- 1966 — "Waco" — 50
- 1969 — "It's All in the Game"
- 1970 — "Daddy (I'm Proud to Be Your Son)"
- 1970 — "First Word"
- 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 978-0595332830.
- Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia
- "Queen's Encyclopedia". Alumni Listing 1995-11-07. Retrieved 15 Nov 2011.
- Lorne Greene at Internet Movie Database
- Lorne Greene at The Museum of Broadcast Communications
- Find A Grave Memorial #417
- Lorne Greene at StarPulse.com
- Landon, Michael. "Unforgettable Lorne Greene." Readers Digest (Pleasantville, New York), August 1988.
- MacDonald, J. Fred. Who Shot The Sheriff: The Rise And Fall Of The Television Western. New York: Praeger, 1987.
- West, Richard. Television Westerns: Major And Minor Series, 1946-1978. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1987.
- Yoggy, Gary A. Riding the Video Range: The Rise and Fall of the Western on Television. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1994.