Pernell Roberts

Born May 18, 1928

Pernell Elven Roberts, Jr. was an American stage, movie 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 series Bonanza, a role he played from 1959 to 1965 — and as chief surgeon Dr. John McIntyre, the title character on Trapper John, M.D..… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Pernell Roberts.


1928 Birth Roberts was born in 1928 in Waycross, Georgia, the only child of Pernell Elven Roberts, Sr. (1907–1980), a Dr Pepper salesman, and Minnie (Betty) Myrtle Morgan Roberts (1910–1988). … Read More


1946 18 Years Old Enlisting in 1946, he served for two years in the United States Marine Corps. … Read More


1949 - 1952 4 More Events
1955 27 Years Old He won a Drama Desk Award in 1955 for his performance in an off-Broadway rendition of Macbeth, which was followed by the role of Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. … Read More
1956 28 Years Old In 1956, he returned to the Olney Theatre, starring opposite Jan Farrand in Much Ado About Nothing with the Players, Inc. group. … Read More
1957 29 Years Old He signed a contract with Columbia Pictures in 1957 and made his film debut a year later as one of Burl Ives' contentious sons in Desire Under the Elms (1958). … Read More


1958 30 Years Old He appeared with fellow guest star Fay Spain in the 1958 episode "Pick up the Gun" of Tombstone Territory and played the lead villain in the 31st episode ("Hey Boy's Revenge") of Have Gun - Will Travel, portraying a killer boss exploiter of Chinese coolie laborers.Bonanza In 1959, Roberts guest-starred in episodes of General Electric Theater, Cimarron City, Sugarfoot, Lawman, One Step Beyond, Bronco, 77 Sunset Strip, The Detectives, and House Call.
1959 31 Years Old Also in 1959, he co-starred with James Coburn in the film Ride Lonesome. "If Roberts felt typecast by Westerns, they also provided his finest role in this film, arguably the greatest of the B-films, starring Randolph Scott and directed by Budd Boetticher. … Read More
1962 34 Years Old Roberts married Judith Anna LeBrecque on October 15, 1962; they divorced in 1971.
1964 36 Years Old Roberts, having largely been "a stage actor, accustomed as he was to a rigorous diet of the classics" and to freely move about from part to part, found the "transition to a television series", playing the same character, "without costume changes," a difficult one. "It was perhaps not surprising that, despite enormous success, he bolted from Bonanza after the 1964–65 season, criticizing the show's simple-minded content and lack of minority actors ". … Read More
Frustrated with Bonanza and angry, he told a reporter in 1965, "I feel I'm an aristocrat in my field of endeavor. … Read More
1967 39 Years Old 1 More Event
Roberts was the only accomplished singer of the original cast, though David Canary, who joined Bonanza in 1967, had a background in voice and performed on Broadway. … Read More


1972 44 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1972, Roberts returned to Broadway and toured with Ingrid Bergman in Captain Brassbound's Conversion, in which he played the title role. "Particularly helpful is Pernell Roberts in the acted upon title role... … Read More
1973 45 Years Old In 1973, Roberts was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for his performance in Welcome Home at the Ivanhoe Theatre in Chicago. … Read More


1979 51 Years Old In 1979, Roberts again achieved "superstar" status as the lead in Trapper John, M.D. (1979–1986), receiving an Emmy nomination in 1981; and playing the character twice as long as Wayne Rogers had (1972–1975) on CBSs M*A*S*H series. … Read More


1988 60 Years Old In 1988, Roberts co-starred with Milla Jovovich in the TV movie The Night Train to Kathmandu.
1991 63 Years Old 1 More Event
He guest-starred as Hezekiah Horn in the powerful Young Riders episode, "Requiem for a Hero", for which he won a Western Heritage Award in 1991. … Read More
2001 73 Years Old He made his last TV appearance in 2001 on an episode of Diagnosis: Murder, updating a Mannix character he had portrayed decades before. … Read More
2010 82 Years Old At the time of his death—from pancreatic cancer on January 24, 2010, Roberts was married to Eleanor Criswell. … Read More
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