Mostly Credited As: Pernell Roberts
Birth Name: Pernell Elvin Roberts Jr.
Date Of Birth: May 18, 1928 (Age 81)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: Waycross, Georgia
Date Of Death: January 24, 2010
Cause Of Death: cancer (Malibu, California)
Height: 6' 1" (1.85 m)
Pernell Roberts portrayed the eldest of Ben Cartwright's three sons on "Bonanza." Intelligent, handsome and protective of his family, Adam was Ben's right-hand. He was the one person Ben counted on to run the Ponderosa in his absence, and turned to whenever danger threatens the ranch or family. Educated at the University, Adam is worldly and sophisticated.
Like the character he portrayed, Pernell Roberts is a man with strong character who thinks for himself. Born in 1928 in Georgia, Roberts grew up in the south where he was exposed to the hypocrisy of those who preached principles of equality, freedom and brotherly love while fostering segregation. Pernell became dedicated to fighting racism.
In the 1960s, Pernell protested actively for civil rights without concern for his personal safety or the effect his actions might have on his career. Lady luck shined on Pernell, who was always more interested in living honestly and openly than he was in pursuing fame.
Pernell was hired as part of Bonanza's original cast ensemble in 1959. He was a co-star in the show for six years. Bonanza's enormous success made him a celebrity while his talent made him a star. In 1965, Rather than renew his contract, the actor with a penchant for theater chose an uncertain career path with a wider range of acting opportunities.
Pernell Roberts began his acting career in the theater in the 1950s. He was a member of the prestigious Arena Stage in Washington D.C. for two years. He performed on Broadway and in Off-Broadway theaters, on tour, and in productions of Shakespeare's "Othello," "Henry IV," "MacBeth" and Romeo and Juliet." He won the Drama Critics Award for Best Actor Off-Broadway in 1955.
His film debut was in Paramount's 1957 film, "Desire Under The Elms." Two years later "Bonanza" began, occupying his attention through 1965. In 1979, Pernell was part of the launch of another television hit, "Trapper John, M.D." The show was a spin-off based on the character from the extraordinarily successful series M.A.S.H. With Pernell Roberts in the lead role, "Trapper John, M.D." became another hit series, enjoying a seven years run. In the 1990s, Pernell could be seen on the series, "FBI: The Untold Stories." Some of the actor's feature film and television credits include: "Perry Mason: The Case of the All-Star Assassin," "Around the world in Eighty Days," "Night Train to Katmandu," "Desperado," "Hotel," "High Noon Part II: The Return of Will Krane," "The Night Rider," the miniseries, "Centennial," "The Magic of Lassie," "The Silent Gun," "The Kashmiri Run," "Ride Lonesome" and "The Sheepman." Pernell Roberts still appears in guest starring roles. Some of his countless guest starring credits include: "Mission Impossible" "Diagnosis Murder," "The Young Riders," "Hotel," "Quincy," "The Nancy Drew-Hardy Boys Mysteries" "The Man From Atlantis," "The Rockford Files," "The Odd Couple," "The Virginian," "Big Valley," "Gunsmoke," and "The Wild Wild West."