‘Bonanza’ Actress Claire Griswold Lived on Four Different Continents Growing Up

by Taylor Cunningham

It seems that Bonanza actress Claire Griswold lived a life as exotic as her classic TV character.

In the Western series’ episode titled The Prince, the Cartwright brothers see some excitement when two Russian aristocrats visit the Ponderosa in search of a Russian prince who ran from royalty to lead a gang of outlaws. That former prince also happened to be the ex-beau of one of the aristocrats, Countess Elena, a glamourous and well-traveled beauty.

The actress behind the countess was Claire Griswold. Griswold never became a major star, but she did enjoy a successful decade in Hollywood, and her adventure in acting was all a part of an uncommon and unique life.

Griswold was the child of Francis H. Griswold, a Lt. Gen. with the U.S. Air Force. His career took him and his family to multiple posts that covered four continents. So his daughter was able to experience nearly all that the world had to offer.

 The actress was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1936. And as she once told The Detroit News, she moved somewhere new “about once every 18 months.”

In all, she lived in North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. But out of all the stops she made around the world, England was her favorite.

“London was best because I was able to study ballet at the Sadler’s Wells school for two and a half years,” she shared.

The ‘Bonanza’ Star Spent a Decade in Hollywood

Once she was a teenager, she settled in the United States and decided to try a life in the arts. She first lived in New York City, and there she had a brief and successful stint in modeling. The Bonanza star even landed on a few magazine covers before she was done, including Ladies’ Home Journal.

Once she grew tired of smiling for the cameras, she moved on to acting. And to prepare for her career, she studied at New York’s Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre.

While getting her start, she met famed director Sydney Pollack, whom she married. And once they tied the knot, the couple headed for LA to be among the A-Listers.

Griswold ended up landing parts in major series such as Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone, and, of course, Bonanza before retiring. And her visit to the Cartwright Ranch ended up being her final role.

Griswold’s husband, however, went on to be an Oscar-winning director who brought films such as Out of Africa, The Firm, and Tootsie to the screen.

Once she left her on-screen career, Claire Griswold lived a relatively private life alongside her high-profile husband. The couple remained together until his passing in 2008. And together they had three children, Rachel, Rebecca, and Steve, who all went on to find their own success in the arts.