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A Beloved TV Father’s Inspiring Story

How the inspiring story of legendary Bonanza actor Lorne Greene came to Guideposts.

Lorne Greene

Through their 60-plus years of writing for Guideposts, John and Elizabeth Sherrill have encountered some incredibly inspiring stories, and shared them with us.

Now as they look back on their amazing journey of life and faith, the Sherrills are revisiting some of their favorites—survival stories, real life love stories, angel sightings and more—so that we can be inspired by them all over again.

It was 1965—no Internet then. I’d flown out to Los Angeles on another Guideposts assignment when I had an excited phone call from the editor back in New York.

“I’ve landed an interview for you with Lorne Greene!”

The name meant nothing to me, but from Len LeSourd’s tone, I gathered it should have.

“Great!” I said.

“You’ll have to see him at the TV studio,” Len went on, giving the address.    

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A clue: this person was on television. (I didn’t watch TV.)     

“The Bonanza cast breaks for lunch at noon. He’ll meet you at the canteen.”

Another clue, I thought as I hung up the phone. Bonanza must be one of those quiz shows with big prizes. Maybe Mr. Greene would have a story about some winner who really needed the money. I wrote out a list of questions.

Next morning I got to the studio early. “They’re still filming,” said the receptionist. “Would you like to watch?”

From the side of the set, I saw a rustic log house, a covered wagon and a group of men in boots and ten-gallon hats. Bonanza was a Western!

A handsome gray-haired man introduced himself. We’d have only half an hour in the canteen, he apologized. But a stream of colleagues kept stopping at our table; Mr. Greene was obviously a much-liked man.

With only 13 minutes of our precious half-hour remaining, he asked what part of his native Canada my editor was interested in.

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I’d thought he was a quiz MC; he thought Guideposts was a travel magazine. I explained as swiftly as I could.

He was silent as the minutes ticked by (only 9 left…). “I think I have a story that’s right for you,” he said at last. And in 9 minutes he told me why playing the father on Bonanza was his way of remembering the best father he knew.

Read the story Lorne Greene told Elizabeth Sherrill about his father.

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