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Pernell Roberts

Adam Cartwright

Although he was only 13 years younger than his Ponderosa papa, Pernell Roberts was chosen to play the role of the eldest Cartwright offspring, Adam. When he was in high school, Roberts sang at local USO shows. He served for two years in the United States Marine Corps. After flunking out of two colleges, Roberts headed to New York City in 1955 to try his luck on Broadway. In 1957, he headed out West to take on film and TV roles, where he soon found himself on the Ponderosa. On the side he recorded an album of folk songs, 1962's Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies. He exited Bonanza at the height of its popularity during the 1964-65 season, annoyed at the show's direction and inequality. He went on to guest-star on some of the popular TV shows of his day, including The Love Boat, Barnaby Jones and Gunsmoke. His career experienced resurgence in 1979 when he was cast in the title role on Trapper John, MD, a part he played for seven years. Roberts is retired from acting and the only living original cast member of Bonanza.

Character Bio

The eldest of the Cartwright boys, Adam is a genuine chip off the old block: He shares his father’s strong moral code while always looking out for his two younger siblings. Although each of the Cartwright boys is precious to his father, as the senior son, Adam is Ben’s closest confidant. Aside from being a strong and smart rancher, Adam also is well-read and educated. He has a love of the arts, especially books and poetry. He also possesses a wicked sense of humor, which he displays often when dealing with his brothers.

Bonanza TV Schedule

May 5
Napolean's Children
Napolean leads a gang of trouble makers who terrorize Virginia City. They steal money, disrupt benefits, & arm themselves with stolen guns. In a showdown, Joe shows Napolean's gang what a coward he is & his gang abandons him.
May 6
The Wormwood Cup
The coroner's inquest found Joe shot in self defense, yet he still feels guilty for killing Zach. Zach's father tells Joe that he thinks Joe should be hung for the murder, & Linda comes offering money to anyone who will kill Joe
May 9
The Greedy Ones
Gus, an old prospector, comes to Virginia City claiming he finally struck gold. Word quickly spreads that the stricken was made on the Ponderosa. The Cartwright's fear that their ranch will be overrun & distorted by prospectors.