‘Bonanza’: What was Ben Cartwright Actor Lorne Greene’s Real Name?

by Joe Rutland
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“Bonanza” star Lorne Greene ruled the Ponderosa as Ben Cartwright for 14 incredible seasons on NBC. What’s his real name, though?

Greene, who was a native Canadian, was born Lyon Chaim Green on Feb. 12, 1915, according to IMDb. His voice was one that many across Canada would come to know as either “The Voice of Doom” or “The Voice of Canada.”

See, Greene of “Bonanza” fame found himself working for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a radio newscaster. He reported to his fellow Canadians about what was happening in World War II. His deep tone lured listeners closer to their radios.

Greene’s newscasts became must-listen events as it was his duty to read off the names of soldiers killed in battle. This is why he was nicknamed “The Voice of Doom.”

‘Bonanza’ Star Would Leave Canada For NYC, Then Off To Hollywood

The CBC had given Greene his “The Voice of Canada” nickname but that switched back and forth with his other one.

Greene left Canada after his radio career ended and came to New York City to find work. He appeared in a couple of Broadway productions as well as a few TV shows.

But he left “The Big Apple” and headed west to find other work. “Bonanza” creator and producer David Dotort discovered Greene after seeing him perform in a CBS production of “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” That performance led Dotort to meet Greene at a Hollywood party, where he offered him the role of a lifetime.

Greene Played Patriarch Of Ponderosa For 14 Seasons on NBC

“Bonanza” ruled at a time when TV westerns were hot stuff. The only show that beat it for longevity on TV was “Gunsmoke” with its 20-season run on CBS.

Greene played patriarch Ben Cartwright to his sons Adam [Pernell Roberts], “Hoss” [Dan Blocker], and “Little Joe” [Michael Landon].

After that show ended, though, Greene would play in another TV series. He was Commander Adama on “Battlestar: Galactica” and “Battlestar 1980.” Heck, Greene even found himself teamed up again with Landon for an episode of “Highway to Heaven.”

Roberts, who left “Bonanza” in a huff about his character’s portrayal and other issues, reunited with Greene in a two-part episode of ABC’s “Vegas” that starred Robert Urich.

But Greene had a heart for conservationism. In the 1980s, he hosted “Lorne Greene’s New Wilderness” so people could understand why it’s important to protect the environment.

Lorne Greene died on Sept. 11, 1987, at 72 years old. He died from pneumonia and complications from ulcer surgery.

While millions remember Greene and still watch him on “Bonanza” reruns, he did a lot of different things throughout his career. But Ben Cartwright sits tall in the saddle over them all now and forever for classic TV fans.

Outsider.com