The late Pernell Roberts as eldest son Adam Cartwright on Bonanza (source)
Pernell, social activist, on the picket line. (source)
Click here for my video playlist, but read my tribute first:
Many of us old-timers were raised on Bonanza and the Cartwright Family living on the Ponderosa, and most of us admired Adam (Pernell) for his calm, cool demeanor, and as for the women, especially his good looks. He was a charmer alright, as well as the wiser, elder brother, but also tough and a fighter, like all the Cartwrights, but actually also in real life. He was an ex-Marine and a progressive political activist, fighting for civil rights in the 60s, not to mention many other causes throughout his life. From Wiki:
"He was also widely known for his life-long activism, which included participation in the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 and pressuring NBC to refrain from hiring whites to portray minority characters." (source)
In reality, he was quite critical of Bonanza. The series failed to live up to his artistic demands, which is why he left after six seasons. Even so, his character and all the Cartwrights' characters were memorable. What is so significant about the four of them was that, unlike so many TV and movie characters today that exemplify this era's "Bronze Age" traits such as greed, paranoia, egomania, backstabbing and lying, just to mention a few flaws, the Cartwrights extolled all the classical positive virtues of honesty, integrity, fearlessness and fairness that are so sadly lacking in so many celebrities, intellectuals and sleazy politicians like George Bush, Dick Cheney and, yes, two-faced Barack Obama, although Barack plays at being a wise father-figure while he is ordering drone attacks on villages.
If kids today all watched episodes weekly like Bonanza, I guarantee you they would turn out at least a little differently from the generation being degraded right now on pyschotic junk like the torture-promoting 24 Hours. Yes Bonanza would leave you feeling clean, wholesome and a bit more proud to be an American after each episode.
Getting back to Pernell though, what was yet even cooler about Pernell was that he was also a talented singer/musician, a great stage actor, and played the very popular Trapper John, MD for years in his later TV career. He truly had a romantic, troubadour voice that just wowed the ladies, as you will note in the linked playlist.
So this is my tribute to his passing away on Jan 24, 2010. It includes some of his work on another great Western, The Virginian.
Rest in peace, Pernell Roberts. Click here for my playlist. The songs should cycle automatically.