Before he was one of the great American cowboy dads, he was one of the great Canadian voices. In fact, he was known as the Voice of Canada. Lorne Greene, from Ottawa, received that title during the 1940s, when his resonant voice delivered news of the Second World War over CBC airwaves.
Eventually his fame spread beyond Canada’s borders when he took the role of Ben Cartwright in the American TV series Bonanza in in 1959, and soon the world knew not only that inimitable bass voice but his imposing looks as well.
But he will always be the Voice of Canada.
Back in 1956 Lorne Greene delivered a Christmas road safety message to the CBC audience. The 5-minute talk began with a very plausible appeal to workers tempted to sample the bottles given to them by their employers and then drive home. Greene then went on to cover topics beyond impaired driving, including careless pedestrians, drivers who fail to clear their windshields of ice, and other menaces.
We don’t approach road safety PSA’s this way anymore. Now we do the job with short, dramatic video imagery. The voices don’t sound quite like Greene’s, and they don’t talk about human nature and how death never takes a holiday. Scripts are a lot tighter nowadays.
But we’ll say this: Lorne Greene was one brilliant Voice of Canada. And he spoke the truth about impaired driving. Have a listen.
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