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October 25, 2014

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Bonanza star Pernell Roberts dies at 81

by Allison Waldman, posted Jan 26th 2010 9:00AM
pernell_roberts_bonanza_trapper_john_mdDepending on your age, Pernell Roberts was either western hero Adam Cartwright or grumpy surgeon Trapper John to you. Pernell Roberts starred in two long-running television series, Bonanza and Trapper John, M.D. But despite his success as a TV star and personality, he was never happy being a celebrity and had a reputation for being difficult and demanding. Pernell Roberts passed away on Sunday, January 24, succumbing to pancreatic cancer. He was 81.

Roberts was probably most famous as Adam, the eldest son of Ben Cartwright, brother of Hoss and Little Joe on NBC's mega-hit Bonanza. For six years, beginning in 1959, Roberts was Ben's smartest and most accomplished son. Roberts got the most serious story lines and carried a lot of the show. But Roberts chaffed under the formulaic structure of the western hit. He was frustrated that the quality of the writing wasn't better. He questioned why three grown men continued asking their father's permission to do anything.

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