‘Bonanza’: Lorne Greene Talked Warnings of Actors and Performers Going into Politics in 1966

by Quentin Blount

Bonanza star Lorne Greene once said that we should be wary of actors being used as the frontmen for political groups.

There is little argument that Lorne Greene is one of the most recognizable faces in all of classic television. Green was a Canadian actor, radio personality, and singer. However, he is without a doubt best remembered for his role as Ben Cartwright on the classic Western TV show, Bonanza. But he did have other notable television roles. Greene played Commander Adama in Battlestar Galactica and Galactica 1980.

As one of the most popular actors of his time, Greene likely could have had success in just about any field he chose. Perhaps especially so in politics. But he once warned that the general public should be wary of actors and celebrities who get involved in politics.

“I remember Gilbert Seldes predicted this 15, 16, or 17 years ago. I remember a speech that he made,” Greene told CBC in 1966. “He said ‘the day will come and watch out for that day, when a performer who has the correct image, physique, looks, has all of his hair, teeth, etc. And a lovely smile. Beware when he becomes the frontman for whatever policies certain people want to instigate.”

Seeing the interview today does give it an eerie feel considering just how many celebrities, musicians, and reality TV stars have made runs for president, or have plans to.

“Seldes predicted this many years ago,” the Bonanza star continued. “The time would come when performers or people who had a very good front, would be the people who get elected to office because of television.”

The ‘Bonanza’ Star Says That Even He Was Approached to Enter Politics

As a native of Ottawa, Ontario, Lorne Greene first made his way up the ranks in Canadian radio. And he quickly became one of the most popular men in the country. So much so, that he was once given the name “The Voice of Canada.”

It wasn’t long after that Greene got involved in TV and eventually landed his major role on Bonanza. So, as one of the most popular men in both Canada and the United States, it only made sense for Greene to be approached by politicians.

“I was even approached myself in a tentative manner. It was different groups who said, ‘Don’t you think you would like to run for politics? You would do great!’

But that wasn’t in the cards, according to Greene. He says that he wanted to save the jobs for the people who actually knew what they were doing.

“That’s nonsense, I don’t know anything about politics,” Greene admits. “My business is to entertain. I don’t know what it is to sit down and read a bill that has been proposed and really understand whether it was good for the community or not. That’s not my business.”