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Whatever Happened To Lorne Greene?

When I was a kid growing up on a little farm by Leota, Minnesota there were western’s all over the television.  You know how it seems there’s ‘reality’ shows on every channel now?  Well, that’s the way it was back in the day with western’s.

But for me (and truth be known, for my Dad), there were only 2.  ‘Gunsmoke‘.  And ‘Bonanza‘.

Every Sunday night we would follow the old west adventures of the Cartwright family out on the Ponderosa (a ranch which to me seemed to stretch from coast to coast!).  There were the 3 boys, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe.  And then there was Pa.

Ben Cartwright as portrayed by Lorne Greene.

Lyon Hiam Green was born in Canada and according to his daughter, it’s not exactly known when Lyon became Lorne or when the ‘E’ was added to Green.

Early in his career he was a National News reader on CBC radio.  And why not!  With a great voice like his, it’s a natural.  He began appearing in acting roles and on live television in the early 1950′s.  Yep, if you watch re-runs of the old, old TV shows, you may just catch a glimpse of ol’ Ben Cartwright long before the burning map of the Ponderosa came into our living rooms every week.

But then, in 1959, the iconic role which will ensure he lives on forever on television.  Bonanza premiered in 1959 and ran until 1973.

After the cancellation of Bonanza, there were other roles.  ‘Griff‘ for a short run and ‘Battlestar Galactica‘ for a longer period.  But for me, he was always and always will be Ben Cartwright.

In the middle of Bonanza, Greene had a huge country and pop music hit with ‘Ringo’.  Listen to it here and enjoy the tale of Ringo as spoken in the distinctive voice of Lorne greene.

Lorne Greene passed away in 1987 from pneumonia following ulcer surgery.  He was 72 years old.

If there’s any justice in the world of classic western’s, I would assume he’s buried on a hill by a gently flowing river somewhere on the Ponderosa.

Watch Festus Sing On 'Gunsmoke'

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