Pernell Roberts
Screenshot 2015-04-23-14-34-58 kindlephoto-5357552
Biographical information
Full Name Pernell Roberts
Birthname Pernall Elven Roberts, Jr.
Occupation Actor
Gender Male
Race American/Caucasian
Hair color Black
Eye color Blue
Born May 16, 1928 in Waycross, Georgia, U.S.
Died January 24, 2010 in Malibu, California, U.S.
Family Jonathan Christopher Roberts (son, 1951-1989)[1]
Spouse Dr. Vera Mowry (1951–1959)
Judith LeBrecque (1962–1971)
Kara Knack (1972–1996)
Dr. Eleanor Criswell
(other languages)(1997–2010; his death
Series Bonanza
Episode appearances: All
First Episode Pilot (Bonanza)
Last Episode Dead and Gone (Bonanza)
Character played: Adam Cartwright

Pernell Elven Roberts Jr. (May 18, 1928 – January 24, 2010) was an American stage, film and television actor, as well as a singer. In addition to guest starring in over 60 television series, he was best known for his roles as Ben Cartwright's eldest son, Adam Cartwright, on the Western TV series Bonanza (1959–1965), and as chief surgeon Dr. John McIntyre, the title character on the hit CBS-TV series Trapper John, M.D. (1979–1986).

He was also known for his lifelong activism, which included participation in the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 and pressuring NBC to refrain from hiring whites to portray minority characters.

Bonanza Edit

Roberts played Ben Cartwright's urbane eldest son Adam. Unlike his brothers, Adam was a university educated architectural engineer.

Roberts had had high hopes for what he could contribute to Bonanza, and was disappointed with the direction of the show, the limitations imposed on his Bonanza character, and on his acting range. In a newspaper interview he said, "I haven't grown at all since the series began...I have an impotent role. Wherever I turn there's the father image," (This Time Pernell Won't Need a Tuba, Washington Post, May 1, 1963, Lawrence Laurent).

Roberts fulfilled but did not extend his six-year contract for Bonanza, and when he left the series, his character was eliminated with the explanation that Adam had "moved away." Later episodes suggested variously that Adam was "at sea", had moved to Europe, or was on the East Coast, running that end of the family business. The last episode Pernell Roberts worked on was "Dead and Gone", air date April 4, 1965. He appeared in the next two that aired which were filmed prior to "Dead and Gone" — "A Good Night's Rest", air date April 11, 1965 and "To Own The World", air date April 18, 1965. Adam Cartwright was mentioned on occasion in the series (including a 1967 episode which did not air until April 4, 1971 ("Kingdom of Fear").


  1. Pernell Roberts Obituary, published by The (UK) Guardian, January 26, 2010. accessed 5/23/2017.

External linksEdit

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