White-haired, patriarchal Canadian actor Lorne Greene attended Queen's University in pursuit of a chemical engineering degree. Amateur college theatricals whetted his appetite for the stage, and upon graduation he decided upon a performing career. He started out on radio, eventually emerging as Canada's top newscaster, designated "the voice of the CBC" (For a while, Greene managed a mail-order announcer's school; one of the "pupils" was Leslie Nielsen). Moving to New York in 1950, Greene became a stage, film and TV actor, co-starring on Broadway with Katherine Cornell in Prescott Proposals and in films with the likes of Paul Newman, Ginger Rogers and Joan Crawford, generally in villainous roles. In 1959, Greene was cast as Ben Cartwright, owner of the Ponderosa ranch and father of three headstrong sons, in TV's Bonanza. He would hold down this job until 1972; during the series' run, Greene unexpectedly became a top-ten recording artist with his hit single "Ringo." Upon the cancellation of Bonanza, Greene vowed he'd retire, but within one year he was playing a private detective on the brief TV weekly Griff. Five years later, he starred on the network sci-fier Battlestar Gallactica. Active as chairman of the National Wildlife Foundation, Greene put forth the organization's doctrine in his popular syndicated TV series Lorne Greene's Last of the Wild. His final weekly television appearance was on the 1980 adventure series Code Red. In 1987, Lorne Greene was all set to recreate Ben Cartwright for the 2-hour TV movie Bonanza: The Next Generation, but he died before shooting started and was replaced by John Ireland.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Was a newscaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation during World War II.
- Made his Broadway debut as a radio journalist in The Prescott Proposals in 1953, and his feature-film debut the next year in The Silver Chalice.
- Said he patterned his Bonanza role after his father, a Russian Jewish immigrant who sold orthopedic shoes for a living.
- In 1964, his single "Ringo" (mostly spoken) hit No. 1 on the pop and adult-contemporary charts.
- Was Canada's Man of the Year in 1965 and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1969.
- Was preparing to recreate his Bonanza role in a reunion TV-movie titled Bonanza: The Next Generation, but died shortly before filming began.
- In 2006, became one of the first four entertainers ever to be featured on a Canada Post stamp.