Adam Cartwright Departs the Ponderosa

Fact: Pernell Roberts was just 13 years younger than Lorne Greene.

Tall (6’2″), handsome Pernell Roberts was cast in the role of Adam Cartwright, oldest son in the “Bonanza” western series that ran on television from 1959 to 1973. The dark-haired Roberts did not bother to hide his discontent with his role. He resented using the term “Pa” instead of “Dad” or “Father” when addressing or discussing his TV father. He felt the series was beneath him and lacked plot and value.

Born in 1928, he was just 13 years younger than Lorne Greene. Robert’s part required that he wear a toupee to add to his hairline. Lorne Greene had a fantastic head of hair and a balding 33 year old son would not have looked believable. Roberts resented that as well and quit the series in 1965, looking for better opportunities than a series he felt was facing its demise.

He found many guests roles and was cast in the role of Trapper John, M.D., a follow-up series about a popular MASH doctor. He was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a drama series the first year of the show (1979). The series ended in 1986, but Roberts will likely always be remembered for his role as Adam on the most popular Western series of the time and overall favorite second only to “Gunsmoke”.

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