‘Bonanza’ Star Lorne Greene Played Two Different Roles in ‘The Love Boat’ Appearances

by Joe Rutland

If you grew up when “The Love Boat” was on ABC, then you know guest stars were plentiful. Take, for instance, “Bonanza” star Lorne Greene.

Greene, who played patriarch Ben Cartwright on the NBC western hit, appeared in not one but two episodes of “The Love Boat” in different roles. Confused? Well, let’s take a look at the “Bonanza” legend’s work on the high seas.

In 1979, he appeared in “Alaska Wedding Cruise,” which originally aired on Sept. 15, 1979. He plays Buddy Bowers, who finds himself getting close with Portia Fairchild, played by “Three’s Company” star Audra Lindley. The show was a two-part third-season opener for “The Love Boat,” which was created by Aaron Spelling of “Charlie’s Angels” fame.

Anyway, Greene and Lindley as Buddy and Portia reach a major decision. What is it? Well, you’ll have to catch the episode in the land of reruns to find out.

In 1982, Greene was part of the “Thanksgiving Cruise” episode. He pairs up with veteran actress Dorothy McGuire. They are parents who have a daughter, played by Wendy Schaal, looking to introduce her fiance’, played by Jim Knaub, to them. She, though, has not told them that he’s a paraplegic. This episode was part of the sixth season of “The Love Boat.”

For Greene, this marked a long way from the days of “Bonanza.” He, though, found work after the NBC western ended its run.

Lorne Greene died on Sept. 11, 1987, at 72 years old.

‘Bonanza’ Star Had To Learn Different Voice Level For Show

Greene originally came from Canada, where he spent time as a radio broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Network. He learned that in radio, he had to raise the level of his voice since he reported on World War II for the network.

“Bonanza” creator-producer David Dortort, in an interview with the Archive of American Television, recalls having a problem with Greene. It was all about his voice.

“He was known, he would report on the progress of the war,” Dortort said. “And he would talk in a big, deep voice. He had a powerful voice. He was called ‘The Voice of Doom’ actually.”

Once World War II ended, Greene left Canada and eventually landed in Hollywood. Dortort saw Greene on an episode of “Wagon Train” and sought out to bring him to “Bonanza.”

Greene’s voice was too heavy. Other actors knew how to tone it down on a set with boom microphones. Greene didn’t but he learned thanks to Dortort. Finally, Dortort asked Greene to come with him to the “Bonanza” production room.

“So we go back to the production room and he hears it,” Dortort said. “The other actors are speaking in normal voices, enough to communicate, not shouting. And he comes in with this big voice. And he says, ‘Oh my God.'” Greene, though, took the experience, learned from it, and adjusted his vocal tone.

The rest is TV history thanks to Greene and his “Bonanza” cast members.