LORNE GREENE Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Lorne Greene                                                                             
Born: 12 February 1915 Ottawa, Ontario, Canada                                                 
Died: 11 September 1987 Santa Monica, California                                               
Lorne Hyman Greene O.C., LL.D. (February 12, 1915 – September 11, 1987) was a                 
Canadian actor, best known in the United States for his roles on two American                   
television programs: the long-running western Bonanza and the shorter-lived cult               
classic science fiction program Battlestar Galactica.                                           
Lorne was born Lyon Chaim Green in Ottawa, Ontario to Russian Jewish immigrants,               
Daniel and Dora Green. Lorne Green began acting while attending Queen's                         
University in Kingston, where he also acquired a knack for broadcasting with the               
Radio Workshop of the university's Drama Guild on the campus radio station CFRC.               
He gave up on a career in chemical engineering and, upon graduation, found a job               
as a radio broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). He was                 
assigned as the principal newsreader on the CBC National News. The CBC gave him                 
the nickname "The Voice of Canada"; however, his role in delivering distressing                 
war news in sonorous tones following Canada's entry into World War II in 1939                   
caused many listeners to call him "The Voice of Doom". During his radio days,                   
Greene invented a stopwatch that ran backwards. Its purpose was to help radio                   
announcers gauge how much time they had available while speaking. He also                       
narrated documentary films, such as the National Film Board of Canada's Fighting               
Norway (1943). In 1957 Greene played the role of the prosecutor in the socially                 
controversial movie Peyton Place.                                                               
The first of his American television roles was as family patriarch Ben                         
Cartwright on the long-running western series Bonanza (1959–1973), making Greene             
a household name. He garnered the role after having turned in a highly-regarded                 
performance in a production of Nineteen Eighty-Four for the Columbia                           
Broadcasting System (CBS). After the cancellation of Bonanza, he was host for                   
the CBS nature documentary series Last of the Wild from 1974 to 1975. In the                   
1977 miniseries Roots, he played the first master of Kunta Kinte, John Reynolds.               
Greene was also popular as the spokesman for Alpo Beef Chunks dog food                         
commercials through-out the 1970s.                                                             
Greene's next best-known role was Commander Adama, another patriarchal figure,                 
in the science fiction feature film and television series Battlestar Galactica (1978–1979)   
and Galactica 1980 (1980).                                                                     
In the 1960s, Greene capitalized on his Pa Cartwright image by recording several               
albums of country-western/folk songs, which Greene performed in a mixture of                   
spoken word and singing. In 1964, Greene had a #1 single on the music charts                   
with his ballad, "Ringo." He was also known as the host and narrator of the                     
nature series, Lorne Greene's New Wilderness. He also appeared in the HBO                       
mockumentary The Canadian Conspiracy, about the supposed subversion of the                     
United States by Canadian-born media personalities. For nearly a decade, Greene                 
co-hosted the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC. He is also fondly                         
remembered as the founder of Toronto's Academy of Radio Arts (originally called                 
the Lorne Greene School of Broadcasting).                                                       
Greene died of pneumonia on September 11, 1987 in Santa Monica, California at                   
the age of 72. He was interred at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery, Culver City,                 
California. Only weeks before his death, he had been signed to appear in a                     
revival of Bonanza.