There was a time when millions of people saw Lorne Greene as a father figure. The Canadian actor, known best for his role of Ben Cartwright on “Bonanza,” commanded a screen like few others. As the host of “The Midday Show” put it in 1986, “Men identified with him, while women wanted to snuggle up to him quite helplessly.” This kind of status doesn’t come without a cost, however. And it eventually led to Greene feeling like a stranger in his own home.
In 1963, Lorne Greene had a replica of the Ponderosa Ranch House built in Mesa, Arizona. The iconic structure was 6,500 sq. ft. and was situated on a golf course. Not exactly the setting of Civil War-era Virginia City, Nevada, but Greene enjoyed using the aptly named Ponderosa II as a weekend getaway. At least, until the people started showing up.
“Well, I don’t live in it anymore. I sold it,” the “Bonanza” star said in his 1986 interview with Ray Martin on “The Midday Show.
“On Saturday morning and Sunday morning, when we’d be there for the weekend, I’d pad in from the bedroom with practically nothing on. And there would be about 15 or 20 noses at the window, and I’d look at them, and they’d look right back at me. And it began to be a little bit eerie. Also, I had to be careful of how I walked around my own house. Finally, we decided that life wasn’t worth it and we just sold it.”
Pretty terrifying stuff. Imagine waltzing out into your living room to an audience on a Sunday morning. In a natural state, no less. So it comes as no surprise that Greene decided to sell the house.
And even though it didn’t work out ideally for the ‘Bonanza’ star, at least the house exists for fans to appreciate. But there’s definitely some irony in that, though. The fans drove Greene away, and now they own the house.
‘Bonanza’ Replica House is Still There
Diehard fans will be relieved to learn that the replica house received a historical designation in 2014. And the homeowners, as of 2016, went to great lengths to preserve the original ‘Bonanza’ flair.
“It was a project for us to save the house, to restore it. We’ve spent the last four-and-a-half years bringing back Bonanza,” Louise Swann, the owner of the replica house told Realtor.com in 2016. “It’s taken a lot of TLC. We always intended to save it, get it preserved, and pass it on to the next person to love it.”
There you go, fans. There’s a chance that you could live as Lorne Greene and the Cartwrights once did. If you can swing the near million dollar price tag, that is.