Lorne Greene based his portrayal of Ben Cartwright on his own father

The actor was inspired by his own family in his depiction of the Cartwright patriarch.

As patriarch of the Cartwright family, Ben Cartwright was one of the most enviable fathers on television. 

However, you might not know that Lorne Greene's portrayal of the Cartwright wasn't just based on acting decisions; He actually based the character off of his own father. 

In a 1964 interview with the New York Post, Greene explained, "I don't know whether I could ever match my father as a person, but as an actor I try to be like him."

Greene was raised as an only child, raised by his parents, Donald and Dora, in Ottawa, Canada. Donald was keen to teach his own son right from wrong, just as Ben Cartwright would later do.

Greene recalled a childhood memory when Greene, still a student, cut class to avoid taking an exam. He then went home, under the impression that both of his parents were out of the house for the day. However, when he arrived, he was confronted with his father, who asked why he was home too early. Forced to muster up a potential excuse, Greene told his father that he had come home for his umbrella, a real blunder considering it was a perfectly sunny day.

Still, Greene recalled his father had a suspiciously genial attitude about the entire situation and appeared to buy his son's excuse. However, he insisted that he escort Greene back to school himself, an obvious indication that he knew much more than he was letting on. When he and his father arrived back at school, they were greeted at the principal's office with a pile of notes that Greene had previously forged to get out of class.

Greene remembered, "All I remembered is my father's eyes saying to me, 'What kind of delinquent have I brought into this world?'" The experience had a profound effect on Greene, and he admitted, "From that moment on I became a reformed character." 

While the Cartwright's adventures in Bonanza entertain the audience enough to keep them coming back for more episodes, it was the strength of the relationship between the Cartwright family that earned the characters a place in viewers' hearts. Similar to his own close relationship with his father, Greene reasoned that it was the love between the Cartwrights that made the show a hit with an audience. He said, "A big reason for the show's popularity is the strength and warmth of the family The father-son relationship is the strongest there is." 

You might be pleased to know that in addition to Greene's art imitating his home life, he was also a fatherly figure outside of the series, offering Dan Blocker and Michael Landon guidance in their joint business ventures. 

So there you have it. Ben Cartwright: The ultimate dad.

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5 Comments

Runeshaper 8 months ago
My dad is the ultimate dad, but Lorne Greene and Ben Cartwright sound pretty good too (-:
LoveMETV22 8 months ago
A good story that counter-balances the previous story about Robert Reed.

[Lorne Greene]
"You might be pleased to know that in addition to Greene's art imitating his home life, he was also a fatherly figure outside of the series, offering Dan Blocker and Michael Landon guidance."

[Robert Reed]
" “He [Reed] did, however, hang around the set while the episode was being shot, grumbling about its idiocy.”

Although the two stories are different actors/series, it seems Mr. Greene had a different philosophy
when it came to portraying a fatherly figure and having consideration for his co-actors.
Cougar90 8 months ago
Bonanza and the Cartwrights are both still worth watching and a positive influence. You can't say that about many tv shows today.
Andybandit 8 months ago
BC was a good Dad on Bonanza. He let his kids live with him. They all got along with each other.
JeffPaul76 Andybandit 8 months ago
Well sure he let his kids/sons live with him, he needed their help around the ranch. Not just the ranch hands that they hired to work there.
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