Pernell Roberts

Posted: March 8th, 2018 under Master Tape.

American stage, film and television actor, as well as a singer. Roberts was born in 1928 in Waycross, Georgia, the only child of Pernell Elven Roberts, Sr. In 1949, he made his professional stage debut with Moss Hart and Kitty Carlisle in The Man Who Came to Pernell Roberts at the Olney Theatre in Olney, Maryland.

1950 and supported himself with a variety of jobs while performing with the Arena Stage Theater for two years. Roberts 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 has been in the 9 previous productions of the season”. In 1956, Roberts returned to the Olney Theatre, starring opposite Jan Farrand in Much Ado About Nothing with the Players, Inc. The film was nominated for a Best Cinematography Academy Award.

Roberts played Ben Cartwright’s urbane eldest son Adam, in the Western television series Bonanza. Unlike his brothers, Adam was a university-educated architectural engineer. Roberts, having largely been “a stage actor, accustomed as he was to a rigorous diet of the classics” and to freely move about from part to part, found the “transition to a television series”, playing the same character, “without costume changes,” a difficult one. In much later interviews, Roberts denied statements about Bonanza attributed to him.

I did not enjoy Bonanza anymorebut I never said those things people said I said. He was, however, “too smart not to recognize its weaknesses. Roberts acknowledged reasons for Bonanza’s appeal, but pointed to his personal need for story lines with greater social relevance, adult themes and dialogue. Roberts had high hopes for what he could contribute to Bonanza and was disappointed with the direction of the show, the limitations imposed on his Bonanza character and on his acting range. In a newspaper interview, he said, “I haven’t grown at all since the series beganI have an impotent role. Wherever I turn there’s the father image. Roberts fulfilled but did not extend his six-year contract for Bonanza, and when he left the series, his character was eliminated with the explanation that Adam had “moved away.