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Pernell Roberts (1928)

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Pernell Elvin Roberts, Jr. (May 18, 1928 – January 24, 2010) 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 widely 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. (1979–1986).

He was also known for his lifelong activism, which included participation in the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 and pressuring NBC to refrain from hiring whites to portray minority characters.


 early life
Roberts was born in 1928 in Waycross, Georgia, the only child of Pernell Elvin Roberts, Sr. (1907–1980, a Dr Pepper salesman) and Minnie Myrtle Morgan Roberts (1910–1988).
During his high school years, he played the horn, acted in school and church plays and sang in local USO shows. He attended, but did not graduate from, Georgia Tech. While serving for two years in the United States Marine Corps, he played the tuba and horn in the Marine Corps Band, although he was also skilled in the sousaphone and percussion . He later attended, but also without graduating, the University of Maryland, where he had his first exposure to acting in classical theater. He appeared in four productions while a student, including Othello and Antigone, but left school to act in summer stock.

In 1949, he made his professional stage debut with Moss Hart and Kitty Carlysle in The Man Who Came to Dinner, at the Olney Theatre in Olney, Maryland.

"He spent eight weeks at the Bryn Mawr College Theater in Philadelphia, portraying Dan in Emlyn Williams "Night Must Fall," and Alfred Doolittle in Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalian" .

Roberts moved to Washington D.C. in 1950, supporting himself in a variety of jobs while performing with the Arena Stage Theater for two years. Here, he performed in numerous productions, including Steinbeck's Burning Bright, The Adding Machine, The Firebrand, The Deletable Judge, The Taming of the Shrew ("Petruchio"), Playboy of the Western World, Children of Darkness, School for Wives, The Inspector General, The Glass Menagerie, Mr. Arcularis, Twelfth Night, The Scarecrow, The Importance of Being Earnest, Julius Caesar, She Stoops to Conquer, School for Scandal, Three Men on a Horse, Faith of Our Fathers and Dark of the Moon.

He performed with the Port Players, in Milwaukee,in the comedy "To Dorothy a Son," and other productions. "Roberts again is master of all situations, as he as been in the 9 previous productions of the season,".

He performed with the Brattle Theater's production of Othello and Henry IV, Part I, which was later brought to the New York City Center and later, Guys and Dolls .

In 1952 he relocated to New York City, where he appeared first off-Broadway in one-act operas and ballets with the North American Lyric Theater, with the Shakespearewrights, at the Equity Library Theater, and later on Broadway with performances in Tonight in Samarkand The Lovers opposite Joanne Woodward, and A Clearing in the Woods with Robert Culp and Kim Stanley. 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. He performed in Twelfth Night, Merchant of Venice, Dr. Faustus, The Taming of the Shrew (at the American Shakespeare Festival, and later on Broadway. He performed in St. Joan , "Down in the Valley , The Duchess of Malfi," "Measure for Measure," and "King John. .

In 1956, he returned to the Olney Theater, starring opposite Jan Farrand in, "Much Ado About Nothing, with the "Players, Inc. Group .

The same year, Roberts made his television debut in the "Shadow of Suspicion" episode of Kraft Television Theater, followed by guest starring roles in The Whirlybirds, Gunsmoke, Sugarfoot, and Cheyenne.

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 . The film was nominated for a Best Cinematography Academy Award. He also landed character roles in such features as The Sheepman.

He continued to guest star on television shows such as, episodes of Shirley Temple Storybook Theater (The Emperor's New Clothes, Rumplestiltskin, The Sleeping Beauty, and Hiawatha), the live-broadcast Matinee Theater, where he starred in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, and in The Heart's Desire. This was followed by appearances in Trackdown, Buckskin, and episodes of Zane Grey Theater. Roberts guest-starred as Captain Jacques Chavez on the NBC adventure series Northwest Passage , based on the life of Major Robert Rogers in the French and Indian War. 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. The episode drew critical acclaim for shedding some light on the contribution of indentured Chinese workers in building the U.S. west.

In 1959 Roberts guest starred in episodes of General Electric Theater, Cimarron City, Sugarfoot, Lawman, One Step Beyond, Bronco, 77 Sunset Strip, and The Detectives, "House Call." He also appeared in Naked City and Route 66 .

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-movies, starring Randolph Scott and directed by Budd Boetticher. Roberts recognised the film's classic structure; his engaging outlaw, Sam Boone, counterpoints Scott's granite-faced Ben Brigade, maintaining the tension of whether they will work together or clash. He similarly played off James Coburn, who was making his film debut as Boone's quiet sidekick, Whit." .

The same year he was cast in Bonanza.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Pernell Roberts", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.