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Pernell Roberts, Adam Cartwright on "Bonanza," dead at 81

January 25, 2010 |  1:24 pm


Pernell Roberts, an original cast member of one of television's classic westerns, "Bonanza," died at his Malibu home Sunday. He was 81.

His death from cancer was confirmed by his wife, Eleanor Criswell.

Roberts was known to fans as the handsome and smart eldest son of the Cartwright clan, Adam. He played the role from its inception in 1959, but tired of the role after six years and left the show to act in films and resume a stage career that had brought him a 1955 Drama Desk Award for best actor in a production of "Macbeth." In 1979, he returned to series television in the popular "Trapper John, M.D.," playing the title character, Dr. John McIntyre, for the show's entire seven seasons.

In later years, he had guest roles in other shows and narrated documentaries. He retired in the late 1990s.

A complete news obituary will follow at

--Elaine Woo

Photo: The original cast of the NBC television series "Bonanza," left to right, Dan Blocker, Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts and Michael Landon. Credit: NBC.