Lorne Greene revealed the unhappiest role he had to play

"It was horrible. I hated getting up to go to work."

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As viewers, decades ago, it was ordinary for fans only to see the outcome of productions, whether they were made for television or film. Sometimes actors and producers would reveal behind-the-scenes footage, like short video clips and photographs, or do interviews where they went into detail about life on set or how their characters were developed.

Over the years, audiences have obtained even more insight into the wellbeings of actors and how their roles affected their personal lives. Lorne Greene is known for his role as Ben Cartwright in Bonanza and was never afraid to speak out about roles without actual meaning.

He even told the truth about why he wanted to leave the show after 16 episodes, explaining how he wanted his character to have more purpose and depth.

Although he and his fans are glad he stayed on the show after producers granted the change, he revealed another gig that played a massive part in him being cautious about roles. After Bonanza, Greene played in many shows, but Code Red, where he played a fire department chief, was one of the unhappiest times of his life.

In a 1983 interview, the actor spoke about the beauty of love and responsibility while revealing he hated going to work while filming Code Red.

"[Bonanza] became a story about... a series about a four-letter word, love," he said while speaking on love. "Love of land, love of trees, love of the environment, love of people, love of the country."

Greene then went on to talk about how television has an immense responsibility, highlighting how productions need to be accurate and truthful. "Television has a tremendous responsibility; The responsibility is to be accurate; The responsibility is to be truthful," he went on. "The responsibility is not to mislead the viewing public."

In another segment of the interview, the actor revealed he had to compromise on Code Red, which made him even more unhappy.

"I compromised. It was the most unhappiest time I've ever had in the business," Greene said. "It was horrible. I hated getting up to go to work. I didn't believe any of the scripts; I didn't believe any of this could happen."

Greene believed the show was too focused on fires and not actual firefighters. "You [have] to be careful about a series because you're not in control."

This realization prompted him to do a show where he was in full control, resulting in the nature series Lorne Greene's New Wilderness.

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Cougar90 16 months ago
I watched "Code Red" once. He was right. It was nothing to write home about.
ncadams27 20 months ago
Television has a tremendous responsibility: The responsibility to sell the sponsors product. That’s pretty much the way it was then. Not to be cynical, but if you are not bringing in the viewers the sponsors want, you will not be on the air. There was a show called The Voice of Firestone that featured classical music the sponsor liked and wanted Firestone to be identified with. The networks hated the show as it dragged down the ratings on whatever night it was shown (remember, no DVR’s or streaming). But as long as Firestone was willing to pay, the show got aired.
AnnieM 21 months ago
I saw the title, and thought he'd be talking about playing the slave owner in 'Roots'...

I do remember Code Red - that is, I remember that it existed, and Lorne Greene was the star. But like everyone else, I agree that 'Galactica 1980' was one sad turd of a show.
Thacket AnnieM 16 months ago
Roots is sooooooo good
ELEANOR 21 months ago
So why or what did Lorne Greene have to compromise on Code Red? I never saw it and don't even know what it was about. Was it about fighting fires?
BuckeyeBeth ELEANOR 18 months ago
I saw in the video that is linked above that Lorne is saying that he didn’t believe the scripts because every show had at least one or two fires in it. He didn’t think that was believable. Also, I remember a short time after the show went off the air, reading a print interview with Lorne (probably either in TV Guide, an entertainment article in the newspaper, or one of the teen magazines of the time) where he said that he signed up to do an serous adult show about firefighters and what they got was a kids show with much of the focus being on the Adam Rich character. I’ve heard other actors complain before that the show they signed a contract to do isn’t the show they end up doing. Another case in point would be Lost In Space started out as a serious adventure drama and ended up being a brightly colored kids show. From what I understand the studio dictates the direction of the shows unless you’re lucky enough to have one of the producer/creators really fight the powers for their creative vision. From what I remember of the show I was annoyed that Adam Rich was featured so much on a show that was supposed to be about firefighters in Los Angeles.

Also, I just looked up Code Red episodes on YouTube and they actually have Adam turning out to fires with the adult firefighters in child size fire gear in his adopted father’s (Lorne) LA Fire Department Battalion Chief’s car. The episode I skimmed (episode 13, Burn Out) dealt with bootlegged video game players that overheat and all of a sudden started pouring large quantities of smoke out, burst into flames shooting 15 inches in the air, and when the kid tried to grab the plug to unplug it from the wall that immediately shot sparks out of the wall outlet along with fire and electrocuted the kid. The firemen start CPR in the front yard with Adam just inches away and don’t bring the ambulance stretcher in (still no IV) until they dramatically announce the kid is breathing again while trying to push off the fire fighter still doing chest compressions (it’s ok, he’s breathing!). If Lorne Greene was really into authenticity and realism like it sounds, I’m sure he absolutely despised this unrealistic dramatic garbage. To be honest I don’t think I can finish the episode it’s so bad. The Adam Rich character is apparently supposed to be about 13yo, but they’ve written him to act more like 11. Unfortunately, Adam had not gone through his teenage growth spurt yet so he looked more like 10. I didn’t remember much about it except I gave up on it after about 2 episodes.
AnnieM BuckeyeBeth 17 months ago
I was surprised to find out he'd just died, too. https://www.metv.com/stories/rip-adam-rich-child-star-from-eight-is-enough
BrittReid 21 months ago
Gee, How did he feel about Battlestar Galactica 1980?
cperrynaples BrittReid 21 months ago
Well he probably hated it too! Bonus Question: Who were the 2 new cadets that season? Hint: One used to be on MeTV and the other still IS!
Barry22 cperrynaples 21 months ago
They weren't cadets, they were full-time fighters. Kent McCord was one, it was revealed he was called Boxie when he was a child, and he was Adama's grandson. (Apollo had adopted him). The other one was Barry Van Dyke.
BuckeyeBeth cperrynaples 18 months ago
For Galactica 1980? They weren’t really cadets in the fact that they were new to training. They were already full-fledged viper fighter pilots in the first episode. But you had Kent McCord as Troy (adult Boxy) and Barry Van Dyke as Dillion. As they name dropped “I can’t believe they used to call you Boxy” to Troy they also said something about that it was funny/amazing that their fathers were best friends also, leading the viewers to think that Dillion was Starbuck’s son.

The connection is that Barry Van Dyke is Dick Van Dyke’s son and they were in Diagnosis Murder together, along with other various relatives. And Kent McCord of course was Officer Jim Reed in Adam-12.
frances3agape 21 months ago
Greene's quote is so inspiring !
"[Bonanza] became a story about... a series about a four-letter word, love," he said while speaking on love. "Love of land, love of trees, love of the environment, love of people, love of the country."
cperrynaples frances3agape 21 months ago
I bet he had a different four-letter word for Code Red...LOL!
Pacificsun frances3agape 21 months ago


LOCATION: This is for the Trivia quiz (STOP before playing).

frances3agape Pacificsun 21 months ago
THANKS for the invite !
Is that Pacific Time?
Pacificsun frances3agape 21 months ago
4:00pm Pacific Time (PDT), 5pm Mountain Time, 6pm Central Time and 7pm Eastern Time.
WGH frances3agape 18 months ago
And love of beef. And coffee.
F5Twitster 21 months ago
"I compromised. It was the most unhappiest time I've ever had in the business.”

You mean most unhappy. I can’t believe that Greene actually said the above, so my money is that the person who wrote this article is the true ungrammatical ignoramus.
MrsPhilHarris 21 months ago
I don’t remember Code Red. 🤔
OldTVfanatic MrsPhilHarris 21 months ago
I do. It limped through one season and tried to recapture the glory Emergency had. The show was middling at best,
Moody MrsPhilHarris 21 months ago
Be thankful for that!
MrsPhilHarris Moody 21 months ago
Moody! Nice to hear from you.
texasluva MrsPhilHarris 21 months ago
I probably saw the title a few times flipping through the channels. Never watched. Never thought of it once until today. Probably good I didn't. Looked it up and there were a total of 4 reviews. 166 ratings which is abysmal. For instance Emergency had 70 reviews and 5,100 ratings. So maybe Lorne had more reasons then 1 that this show really kind of sucked. It lasted about a year and 20 episodes.
MrsPhilHarris texasluva 21 months ago
Not very many episodes. Sounds like it was a bomb. 💣
Andybandit 21 months ago
Lorne was a great actor. I remember him in Bonanza and the Alpo commercials obviously.
Pacificsun Andybandit 21 months ago


LOCATION: Answers to Trivia (WAIT before you play)

Runeshaper 21 months ago
Very interesting! Lorne Greene was a good man.
cperrynaples 21 months ago
I've long heard Greene hated Griff! He actually called it Grief! Bonus Questions: [1] Who played his son Chris and what classic sci-fi character did he play before Code Red? [2] What '70's child star played a homeless teenager adopted by Greene?
OldTVfanatic cperrynaples 21 months ago
The answers are Sam J. Jones aka Flash Gordon as Chris and Adam Rich as Danny.
Moody cperrynaples 21 months ago
He was also Commander Adama on Battlestar Galactica.
KJExpress 21 months ago
I vaguely remember watching "Code Red," but not enough for it to have made any kind of lasting impression. I can't even remember who else was in it. 🤷‍♀️
OldTVfanatic KJExpress 21 months ago
Andrew Stevens, Julie Adams, Sam J. Jones aka Flash Gordon, and Adam Rich post-Eight Is Enough.
KJExpress OldTVfanatic 21 months ago
Oh, yeah......I probably watched it because of Andrew Stevens. I think I liked him at the time. 😏
LoveMETV22 21 months ago
Great article MeTV. Nice addition with the video interview clip. Although he said he needed to compromise at certain times, he stood strong for his principles. I had forgotten about his show
" Lorne Greene's New Wilderness (1982)", it reminded me of other shows like " The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau" and Steve Irwins " The Crocodile Hunter."
cperrynaples LoveMETV22 21 months ago
Bonus Question: What MeTV star narriated Undersea World?
LoveMETV22 cperrynaples 21 months ago
Rod Serling narrated the ABC Version of TUWoJC.
Barry22 21 months ago
Wow, another article about an actor talking about the responsibility of television. Him and Garner made some good points. You can see how thoughtful and passionate they were about their work. Never heard of Code Red. I would've guessed Galactica 80 would make him sick
OldTVfanatic Barry22 21 months ago
I’m sure it did.
Moody Barry22 21 months ago
I think it made most Battlestar Galactica fans sick. Galactica 1980 was terrible.
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