This was the moment the creator of ''Bonanza'' realized that Lorne Greene was perfect for the role of Ben Cartwright

With a little help from "Wagon Train," Dortort found his Ben Cartwright.

You've heard of love at first sight, but what about cast at first sight? Most people may not be so lucky but when David Dortort, creator and producer of Bonanza, saw Lorne Greene for the first time, he knew instinctively that he had found his Ben Cartwright.

During an interview with the Hartford Courant, Dortort described seeing Greene act in a guest spot on the series Wagon Train. Dortort said, "He was scheduled to play the part of a character who could dominate Ward Bond. Now, Bond was not an easy man to dominate. Offhand I couldn't think of any actor who could pull that off."

He continued, "But I went on the set to watch Greene work, and to my complete surprise, Lorne not only dominated Bond, he made him look, by contrast, a weak, indecisive man. Immediately, I said to myself, 'There's your Ben Cartwright.'"

At the time, Greene was by no means new to the television industry, but Dortort preferred that he had been involved in fewer projects than other television actors. He said, "I know TV, and I know actors. I know how a little success can make them unmanageable and dissatisfied, so I cast Bonanza with four unknowns... But I must tell you how pleased I am with Lorne Greene."

After spotting Greene, Dortort passed along a script to him to gauge his interest in the project. Luckily, Greene immediately understood the concept of the series and knew it had the potential for success.

He stated, "When NBC called me about the show later, I said, 'Whether or not I get the part, I want you to know, you've got a winner in Bonanza. The father-son relationship is sure-fire. If I do it I would like three things: a good story, myself a star, and lots of money.'" What was the network's response? Greene said, "They laughed and said 'You're in.'"

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2 Comments

ironman2000 1 month ago
You got to love him. That is the reason I still watch Bonanza, and all the classic TV westerns to this day, because they offer high morals.
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