Bonanza ran for fourteen years without interruption. During the show’s run, fans loved tuning in to see the Cartwright family live on the iconic Ponderosa Ranch. The fans weren’t the only people who formed a connection with the show, its characters, and the setting.
Lorne Greene, who played Ben Cartwright on Bonanza also had a strong connection to the show. His connection was so strong, in fact, that he had a replica of the Ponderosa Ranch house built as a vacation home. Greene also probably saved one of his co-star’s lives when the show ended in 1973.
‘Bonanza’ Star Buys His On-Screen Horse
Before Bonanza began filming, Lorne Greene and the actors who would play his sons went to Fat Jones Stables. While they were there, they picked out the horses that they would use on the show, according to History Daily. That day, Lorne Greene met Buck.
Over the next fourteen years, the Bonanza star sat atop the thoroughbred buckskin. Greene wasn’t a natural horseman. Even after spending countless hours in the saddle, Lorne Greene never felt truly comfortable on a horse. However, Buck was gentle and easy to control. So, Greene felt that he could trust him. It didn’t take long for Buck to go from animal to co-star in the eyes of the elder Cartwright.
Anyone who has ever owned a horse will tell you that it doesn’t take long to form a bond with one of the gorgeous animals. The Bonanza co-stars had over a decade to form their friendship. So, when the show ended, Greene had one serious question. What would happen to Buck?
The Bonanza star worried that Buck was bound for the glue factory. After all, the average life-expectancy for a horse is between 25 and 30 years. Buck was getting up there in age. It’s safe to assume that the buckskin was nearly twenty years old by the time the show ended. So, most people would think that he didn’t have many years left.
Lorne Greene was more than the star of Bonanza. He was also a philanthropist. He regularly donated to conservation funds and had an eye for environmental causes. So, when this dilemma was laid on his lap, there was only one thing he could do. Lorne Green bought Buck from the studio.
The Bonanza star didn’t plan to keep the horse, though. Instead, he donated Buck to a therapeutic horseback riding facility. There, Buck was able to help children who had physical and mental disabilities. The gentle buckskin helped the kids learn to trust, coordination, and movement.
Buck died in 1992 at the age of forty-five. He spent the last 19 years of his life helping children thanks to Lorne Greene’s generous donation.