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Trapper John M.D.
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From TV`s "Bonanza" (1959) fame, dark, deep-voiced and durably handsome Pernell Roberts` native roots are in Georgia, born May 18, 1928, in Waycross. Singing in local USO shows while in high school, he attended both Georgia Tech and the University of Maryland but flunked out of both colleges, with a two-year stint with the Marine Corps. stuck somewhere in between. He eventually decided to give acting a chance and supported himself as a butcher, forest ranger, and railroad riveter during the lean years. In New York he performed off-Broadway before progressing to Broadway in such plays as "The Lovers" with Joanne Woodward and "A Clearing in the Woods." He also spent a couple of years performing the classics with the renown Arena Stage Company in Washington, DC, in such productions as "The Taming of the Shrew," "The Glass Menagerie," "The Importance of Being Earnest," and Twelfth Night." In 1955, he won a Drama Critics Award for Best Actor. Pernell headed for Hollywood two years later and found minor roles in films before landing the pivotal role of Ben Cartwright`s oldest son, Adam, in the "Bonanza" (1959) western series in 1959. At the peak of his and the TV show`s popularity, Pernell, displeased with the writing and direction of the show, suddenly elected not to renew his contract and left at the end of the 1964-1965 season to the utter dismay of his fans. The show continued successfully without him, but a gap was always felt in the Cartwright family by this abrupt departure. The story line continued to leave open the possibility of a return if desired, but Pernell never did. With his newfound freedom, he focused on singing and the musical stage. One solo album was filled with folks songs entitled "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies." Besides such standard roles in "Camelot" and "The King and I," he starred as Rhett Butler to Lesley Ann Warren`s Scarlett O`Hara in a musical version of "Gone with the Wind" that did not fare well, and appeared in another misguided musical production that was based on the life of "Mata Hari."
The following years were rocky. He never found a solid footing in films with roles in rugged, foreign films such as Tibetana (1970) [The Kashmiri Run], Four Rode Out (1970), making little impression. He maintained a presence in TV, however, with parts in large-scale mini-series and guest shots on TV helping to keep some momentum. In 1979 he finally won another long-running series role with "Trapper John, M.D." (1979) in which he played the Wayne Rogers "M*A*S*H" (1972) role. Pernell was now heavier, bearded and pretty close to bald at this juncture, but still quite virile and attractive. The medical drama co-starring Gregory Harrison ran seven seasons. The natural-born Georgia rebel was a heavily principled man and spent a life-time of work fighting racism, segregation, and sexism, notably on TV. He was constantly at odds with _Bonanza_ writers of his concerns regarding equality. He also kept his private life private for the most part. He was married and divorced three times, having one son, Jonathan Christopher, by first wife Vera. Jonathan was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1989. In the 1990s, Pernell starred in his last series as host of "FBI: The Untold Stories" (1991). It had a short life-span. He is by most accounts retired, one of his more recent TV guest appearances occurring in 1999.
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Full Name at Birth
Pernell Elvin Roberts
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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 Trapper John, M.D. (1979–1986).
University of Maryland
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Pernell Elven Roberts, Sr. (1907–1980)
Minnie (Betty) Myrtle Morgan Roberts (1910–1988)
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