‘Bonanza’: Lorne Greene Explained Why He Didn’t Want to Retire, Stressed Importance of ‘Being Involved’

by Clayton Edwards

Many television viewers know Lorne Greene for the role of Ben Cartwright in Bonanza. To be fair, that was one of the most popular shows of its era. It ran for fourteen seasons. Greene portrayed the patriarch of the family on which the show focused. At the same time, his character headed up the Ponderosa Ranch. So, it makes sense that he is still known primarily for this role.

However, Lorne Greene did much more both before and after Bonanza ended. Between the time the classic western ended in 1972 and his death in 1987, Greene was in several movies and television shows. For instance, he was in the original Battlestar Galactica series as well as the film. He even had a small role in the short-lived series Police Squad! which served as the basis for the Naked Gun franchise starring Leslie Nielsen.

However, the series he was probably most passionate about was Lorne Greene’s New Wilderness. Greene was passionate about wildlife conservation and that show, which ran from 1982 until February of 1987, allowed him to share that passion with the world. The show aired its final episode only months before Greene’s passing in September of that year.

In the early 1980s, Lorne Greene appeared on Today With Steve Liebmann And Sue Kellaway to talk about his career. During that appearance, he talked about why he never retired.

Lorne Greene on Retirement and Staying Involved

After discussing his time on Bonanza as well as his later work and conservationism, Sue Kellaway asked Lorne Greene, “Do you ever think you’ll retire? Or are you just going to go on forever?”

Lorne Greene smiled at this as if the thought of retirement amused him. “Well,” he said, “I like to keep busy. As long as my mind is active, I’m happy.”

The show’s host added that his mind was obviously active. Greene was, in fact, involved in several things.

Lorne Greene replied, “Yes. I think it behooves all of us to be involved in as much as possible.” Then, the former Bonanza star elaborated. “We’re part of this world,” Greene said, “If we’re not involved, if all people are not involved, then the world loses something. It’s only through involvement that we can grow.”

Lorne Greene worked almost until the day he died. In his final years, he worked on not only his nature series but also several other projects. Those projects include portraying General Sam Houston in the made-for-TV movie The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory, which aired in January of 1987. He also lent his voice to the Biblical character Noah for a short titled Noah’s Ark in 1986 according to IMDb. Greene certainly stayed busy and involved for as long as he could.