Lorne Green life and biography

Lorne Green picture, image, poster

Lorne Green biography

Date of birth : 1915-02-12
Date of death : 1987-09-11
Birthplace : Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Nationality : American-Canadian
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2010-09-08
Credited as : Actor and broadcaster, role in the tv series Bonanza,

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Lorne Greene, born February 12, 1915 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada - died September 11, 1987 in Santa Monica, California, United States was an American-Canadian actor especially noted for the television series Bonanza (1959-1973), in which he starred as Ben Cartwright, the kindly father figure who set a high moral tone for his family of young TV sons

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Greene's parents were Daniel Green, a saddlemaker who developed his own business in corrective boots, and Dora Green, a homemaker. He grew up as an only child after an older brother died in infancy. Greene was introduced to the theater in high school, where he first learned to project his distinctive deep voice. He studied drama at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, which he attended from 1932 to 1937, and where he first studied chemical engineering but then switched to languages; meanwhile he produced, directed, and acted in school plays. After graduating with a B.A. degree, he took a position in radio with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in Toronto. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Greene went to New York City to attend the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance (1937-1939). He then returned to work for the CBC, where he became greatly admired and was dubbed the "voice of Canada." Late in the war, he served a tour of duty with the Canadian Army and then returned to Canada to found two organizations to assist veterans to find positions in radio or the theater: the Academy of Radio Arts and the Jupiter Theatre.

One of the teachers at Greene's Academy of Radio Arts later invited him to appear in a play on Studio One, a live televised theater program produced by CBS. Greene went on to have a series of successes in this medium. He also performed on the Broadway stage and was a Shakespearean actor in Ontario. In 1940 he married Rita Hands in Toronto, with whom he had twins, Charles and Belinda Susan. The couple divorced in 1960, and Greene married Nancy Anne Deale in 1961; they had one daughter, Gillian.

Although he remained a Canadian citizen, Greene moved permanently to the United States in the early 1950s. In 1954 he appeared in the film The Silver Chalice, for which he received excellent reviews for his role as the apostle Peter. He next appeared in Tight Spot in 1955, a Columbia Pictures film based on Leonard Kantor's Broadway play Dead Pigeon. The New York Times praised Greene as "first-rate" in his supporting role as a racketeer. He was also strong in supporting roles in the films Autumn Leaves (1956), Peyton Place (1957), and Gift of Love (1958). In 1958 he also appeared in The Buccaneer, in which Yul Brynner played the pirate Jean Lafitte who aided General Andrew Jackson (Charlton Heston) at the Battle of New Orleans; Greene played a buccaneer named Mercier. In 1959 Greene appeared in The Trap.

Over the course of the 1950s, Greene appeared on such television programs as The Elgin Hour, Omnibus, Folio, Playhouse 90, and Producer's Showcase. In 1959 he played in the Western series Wagon Train, in which he portrayed a strong, authoritative man. Stardom came after Greene was tapped for Bonanza, the central character of which was Ben Cartwright of the Ponderosa Ranch. The episodes usually taught a moral lesson and the importance of strong family values. Cartwright's sons were Hoss, a burly, affable character (Dan Blocker); Adam, the reader and thinker (Pernell Roberts); and Little Joe, the handsome and sensitive youth (Michael Landon). The program won many awards and was honored by the U.S. Congress in 1966 for its dedication to high moral values and family entertainment.

Greene also became a recording artist, singing such Western songs as "Five Card Stud," "Destiny," and "Ringo." He was closely associated with the Boy Scouts and often spoke or performed at fund-raising benefits. In 1964 he was master of ceremonies on Prince Edward Island for a performance of the Canadian Royal Variety Group staged for Queen Elizabeth II. In 1965 he was selected Canada's man of the year.

Following Bonanza, Greene appeared in such films as The Errand Boy (1961), Earthquake (1974), Tidal Wave (1975), Klondike Fever (1977), Battlestar Galactica, based on the TV series (1979), and Conquest of the Earth (1980). His television series included Griff (1973-1974), Battlestar Galactica (1978-1980), and Code Red (1981-1982). He also enjoyed prestige as the narrator of the documentary nature series Lorne Greene's Last of the Wild. Greene died in Santa Monica, California, from pneumonia, following surgery for a perforated ulcer. He is buried in Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California.

Lorne Greene was the master of four mediums: theater, radio, film, and television. His specialty was communication, and many praised his deep, rich speaking voice. He was a large, robust man (over six feet tall and over 200 pounds) whose love of life spilled over into his multitude of roles.

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