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Bonanza Actor Biographies - Cartwrights

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Lorne Greene (1915-1987)

Born: February 12, 1915
Name: Lyon Himan Green (date unknown as to when the final "E" was added to the last name or when the first name was changed)
Nickname: His mother called him Chaim
Place of Birth: Ottawa, Canada
Education: Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario; The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater

Personal Life Significant Achievements

Forlorn Green, an album by trumpeter Greg Kelley and tape loop manipulator Jason Lescalleet, is an indirect tribute to the actor: The album's title is a pun ("For Lorne Greene"), the four pieces are each named after a movie featuring Greene, and the album is dedicated "most of all" to "Ben Cartwright".

In the television show Angel, created by Joss Whedon, there is a recurring character named Lorne, who is a demon whose skin is green, in honor of Greene.

In February 1985, Greene was the Krewe of Bacchus King of Mardi Gras.

Significant Dates

Click Here to visit Lorne's Lodge Forum

Roberts Roberts

Pernell Roberts (1928-2010)

Pernell Elvin Roberts, Jr. was born May 18, 1928 in Waycross, Georgia. He was the only child of Pernell Elvin, Sr (a Dr. Pepper salesman) and Minnie [Betty] Roberts.

During his high school years, he participated in Glee Club and school plays. He also played basketball, was in the band and sang in local USO shows.

In May 1945 he graduated high school and briefly entered Georgia Tech, majoring in Engineering - he flunked out. After leaving school he joined the Marines for two years. Since he was a musician who played baritone horn, sousaphone, tuba and percussion, he was assigned to the Marine Corps band.

After leaving the service, Roberts attended the University of Maryland. While there he received his first exposure to acting in classical theatre, appearing in four productions including Antigone and Othello. After twice flunking his classes, he left school and in 1950 moved to Washington D.C. to join the acclaimed Arena Stage Company. Some of the plays he performed in there included The Firebrand, The Glass Menagerie and The Importance of Being Earnest. In 1952, Roberts moved on to New York City. He appeared in numerous off-Broadway productions such as Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice. During the 1955-1956 season he won a prestigious Drama Desk award for his title role in an off-Broadway production of Macbeth. His Broadway debut was in 1955 in Tonight in Samarkand. Some of his other Broadway performances were A Clearing in the Woods and The Taming of the Shrew.

Roberts made the move to Hollywood in 1957 and signed a contract with Paramount Studios, making his movie debut in Desire Under the Elms in 1958. He also made appearances in numerous TV shows including Kraft Theatre, Sugarfoot, Tombstone Territory and Bronco. More TV roles and two more movies followed: The Sheepman in 1958 and Ride Lonesome in 1959. Television producer David Dortort had spotted Roberts in previous Western roles and thought Roberts would be perfect for a new show he was developing about a widower with three sons...Bonanza.

A public supporter of the Civil Rights movement, Roberts used his position on a popular show to pressure NBC to stop casting white actors in minority roles and spoke out against the racist and sexist element on the series itself. The actor also marched with Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama, and marched for fair and equal housing for minorities in Los Angeles.

A cast album, Ponderosa Party Time, and his own album of folk songs, Come all Ye Fair and Tender Ladies in 1963 allowed him to showcase his singing abilities. Despite the show's success, Roberts was unhappy in his role. Dissatisfied with scripts, the direction of the series and with a desire to play a variety of roles and return to the theatre, Roberts chose not to renew his contract after the sixth season.

For the next decade or so, Roberts worked steadily in TV in shows such as Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, Mission: Impossible and Hawaii Five-O. He also starred in the movies The Kashimiri Run and Four Rode Out. He returned to the stage on numerous occasions including the musicals Camelot, Scarlett, and a TV production of the musical, Carousel. He also appeared in plays such as Tiny Alice, and returned to Broadway in Captain Brassbound's Conversion. In 1973 he was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson award for his performance in Welcome Home at the Ivanhoe Theatre in Chicago.

In 1979 Mr. Roberts again found fame as the star of Trapper John M.D. The series, which ran for seven years, earned him an Emmy nomination in 1981. Roberts lent his distinctive voice as a narrator of documentaries in Realm of the Alligator for National Geographic and The Mountain Men for the History Channel. He appeared as Hezekiah Horn in an episode of the Young Riders in 1991. The episode, "Requiem for a Hero", won a Western Heritage award. Roberts continued making TV appearances until 1997, with a guest appearance on the Diagnosis Murder episode "Hard-Boiled Murder" being his last role before retiring from public life.

Roberts was married four times. His first wife was Dr. Vera Mowry, whom he married in 1951. A son, Jonathan Christopher was born later that year - he died in a motorcycle accident in 1989. Roberts was married to Judith LeBreque from 1962 to 1971 and Kara Knack from 1972 to 1996. His fourth wife, Eleanor Criswell, was at his side at the time of his death from pancreatic cancer on January 24, 2010, in Malibu, California.

Written by Bonanza Brand Member jojay

Click Here to visit Pernell's Palace Forum


Dan Blocker (1928-1972)

Dan Davis Blocker was born on December 10, 1928 in DeKalb, Texas, the son of Ora Shack Blocker and Mary Davis Blocker. At the time of his birth, he weighed in at 14 lbs, making him the largest baby born in Bowie County, Texas. Dan was the youngest of two children. However, he would become an only child when his sister, Ora Virginia, died in 1933 when she was eleven years old.

Not long after his birth, Dan and his family moved to O'Donnell, located about 45 miles south of Lubbock in Western Texas. His father was a farmer who lost the farm after The Great Depression. Later, he would go into the grocery business.

At the age of 13, Dan was enrolled at the Texas Military Institute in San Antonio. By that time, he weighed in at 200 and wore size 12 shoes. Afterwards, he spent a semester in Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene before attending Sul Ross State in Alphine, where he played football and boxed.

In Sul Ross, Dan received his first taste in acting. He was asked to drag the bodies out of a cellar during the curtain call of Arsenic and Old Lace, mainly because the drama department needed someone strong enough for the job. Dan accepted it and, even though it had been only backstage work, he became highly interested in acting. He switched his majors from Physical Education to Drama, specializing in Shakespeare. He would receive a Masters Degree in Dramatic Arts.

Dan's acting career was halted when he was drafted and served in the Korean War. It would be another five years before he would return to acting.

During his time in Sul Ross, Dan met Dolphia Lee Parker. The two would later marry on August 25, 1952. They had four children together; identical twin daughters, Danna Lynn and Debra Lee, and sons David and Dirk.

After returning from the war, Dan went into teaching. He eventually moved his family to Los Angeles, where he would attend UCLA in hopes of earning a doctorate. However, in 1956, after playing a role of a Lieutenant on an episode of Gunsmoke, he returned to acting.

For the next three years, Dan would play various roles that was available to him, mostly guest starring spots. Some of these included Wagon Train, Colt .45, Zorro, and Maverick.

It was his work on The Restless Gun that caught the attention of David Dortort. In 1959, David was putting together an hour-long western series set in the 1860s, focusing on an all-men ranching family. This show was called Bonanza. David would cast Dan as Eric "Hoss" Cartwright, the middle son who was large and strong, but a friendly man with a big heart.

Despite Bonanza's slow start, the show would run for fourteen seasons, with Dan appearing in thirteen. He would appear in 399 out of 431 episodes.

Even with a busy schedule involving a show, that didn't stop Dan from pursuing other interests. A hard-working man, he would make appearances in other movies. His first major movie role would be of Waldo Gronsky in the 1968 Frank Sinatra movie Lady in Cement. He also starred in the 1970 comedy, The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County, playing the lovelorn blacksmith Charley. He was also known to be a business man. Dan partially owned the Ponderosa/Bonanza Steakhouses in exchange for being a commercial spokesman and making personal appearances as Hoss Cartwright.

Dan had quite a few interests, but there were two that were quite well-known. One of them was racecars. Although not a driver himself, he liked learning and talking about them. He was even a partner in a company known as the Vinegaroon Racing Associates. His other well-known interesting was politics. He was a Liberal Democrat and a Civil Rights proponent who had appeared in several public service announcements promoting racial tolerance. Blocker so opposed the Vietnam War that he uprooted his family in 1968 and moved them to Lugano, Switzerland.

Despite a busy schedule, Dan would always make time for his family as they were the most important in his life. Even if he only had a day to spend with them, Dan would make the best of it.

Sadly, on May 13, 1972 at age 43, Dan Blocker died suddenly from a blood clot in his lung while recovering from gallbladder surgery. His death had been a shock to those who knew him. He was interred in the family plot in De Kalb, Texas.

Although it has been over 40 years since his death, he is still highly admired by many. and his legacy lives on to this day.

Click Here to visit Dan's Chalet Forum


Michael Landon (1936-1991)

Bio coming soon!

Click Here to visit Michael's Mansion Forum


Mitch Vogel

Bio coming soon!