The "Ben Cartwright" actor

Lorne Greene's Death Had Tragic Connection To 'Bonanza'

Lorne Greene's Death Had Tragic Connection To Bonanza

Lorne Greene is best known for his Bonanza role as "Ben Cartwright," one he last played in 1973. There never was a Bonanza reunion afterward, but Greene very nearly reprised his role as "Ben" in the 1980s, only to have the plan thwarted by tragedy. This is the sad Bonanza connection to the death of Lorne Greene.

From 1959 to 1973, Lorne Greene cemented his status as a TV legend on Bonanza.

He played "Ben," the patriarch of the "Cartwright" family, for 14 seasons on the classic Western. Did you know that he later planned to revive his Bonanza role but ultimately died just before he could do so?

Lorne Green: Tragic Bonanza connection to his death

After Bonanza ended, there never was a true reunion. Dan Blocker passed away during the show's run, Pernell Roberts wanted nothing to do with Bonanza, and Michael Landon moved on to major series like Little House on the Prairie.

As for Lorne Greene, he lived a long life and continued acting for over a decade after the series ended. In fact, he later became known for other TV work on Battlestar Galactica and Code Red.

Lorne Greene's cause of death: Bonanza actor died in 1987.

But appetite for a Bonanza revival made headway in the 1980s, and Greene liked the idea. In 1987, he agreed to play "Ben" in Bonanza: The Next Generation — a TV movie about the descendants of the original "Cartwrights."

Sadly, tragedy thwarted this exciting plan. Lorne Greene passed away shortly after he signed on for the film.

Lorne Greene: His cause of death at age 72

The actor had surgery for an ulcer, but he developed pneumonia afterward and died of complications from the condition on Sept. 11, 1987, according to The Washington Post. He was 72.

And it appears he was literally weeks away from saddling up as "Ben Cartwright" once again. The film shot that very fall and premiered in March of 1988.

Instead, Bonanza: The Next Generation added the character of "Aaron Cartwright," who was the brother of "Ben." John Ireland played the part.

Lorne Greene's daughter Gillian was in a Bonanza movie after her father died.

No other original Bonanza stars appeared in the film, but Michael Landon Jr. starred and Lorne Greene's daughter Gillian had a small role as well.

You can click here to learn more about the three Bonanza movies.