Critics thought Pernell Roberts' injury was the ''last straw'' in his campaign to escape Bonanza

It's no secret that the actor wanted out of his contract, and critics thought the on-set accident was the icing on the cake.

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It's no secret that the West was full of wild adventures, and actors certainly felt the aftermath of them. Of course, there were stunt doubles for some of the most dangerous activities — though some actors insisted on doing their own stunts — but even with basic stunts, actors would talk about the cuts and bruises they got on set. 

Sometimes it was as little as a scrape or sore muscle; other times, it was sprains or broken bones. While filming an episode of Bonanza, Pernell Roberts injured his neck. According to an article in The Detroit Free Press in 1962, the accident happened while filming a chase scene in the San Fernando Valley.

Roberts' horse took a tumble, and he wasn't the only cast member that felt the aftermath of this accident. Dan Blocker was right behind him, and his horse also fell.

The article in the newspaper stated, "Roberts' horse stumbled in soft ground and fell. Blocker, following close behind, couldn't avoid the tangle and went down too. Roberts had painful but minor neck injuries. Blocker had a fractured left clavicle and a shoulder separation and will be in a cast for a month."

Although the two, who played Adam and Hoss Cartwright, were injured, filming continued. Producer David Dortort told The Detroit Free Press that scripts for the last three episodes of the season would be adjusted. "We hope Pernell will be alright to return to work in a few days," Dortort said. "As for Dan, we can probably write an excuse for him to appear on the show in his cast if he is sufficiently recovered from the accident."

Those were indeed not the words Pernell Roberts wanted to hear. As many fans know, the actor did not want to be involved with Bonanza after a few seasons, and he spoke out about wanting to end his contract.

He told NBC vice president Mort Werner, who was in charge of programming, that he wanted out entirely, even after signing a new contract. "I had to sign to get a raise. But now, after six years, I want out entirely," Roberts said.

We're sure the actor didn't get hurt on purpose, but many critics thought the accident was the "last straw" in his campaign to leave the show.

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20 Comments

rb5391 10 months ago
never understand how someone would take a chance on acting career that may never pan out and waste their life, but someone like pernell that got an agent, got an acting job, got on a hit show, then couldnt stand it....ill never understand that
Beatseeker 12 months ago
nothing against pernell, but i was always a hoss fan. adam just didn't fit... he looked like a trick or treater more than a cowboy...
frances3agape 12 months ago
I liked him in NIGHT GALLERY's episode "The Tune in Dan's Cafe"
Never saw him as Trapper tho I remember the show
McGillahooala 12 months ago
Some actors are grateful for that one big role that comes along and others are, well, less than grateful and full themselves.
grimeyboy463 12 months ago
Perhaps I missed it in the article but what were his reasons for wanting to leave such a successful show? Did he not get along with his cast Mates?
KennyNovak grimeyboy463 12 months ago
Welp, my understanding is that he was a bit like Robert Reed/Mike Brady years later on "The Brady Bunch". Both men were trained on the stage and that's where they were comfortable. Both felt like acting on TV was beneath them. Up front, they were told that they'd have creative input on the show's writing and that never happened. Both men hated the scripts that came their way and got butt hurt that they weren't consulted on how to make them better. The difference? Robert Reed was going to get fired - but the show was cancelled before that could happen. Pernell Roberts quit.
grimeyboy463 KennyNovak 12 months ago
Thank ya, Kenny! Your comments reminded of Francis Bavier. She had success on stage & from what I’ve read over the years, she felt that tv was beneath her.
ncadams27 grimeyboy463 12 months ago
Same with Vivian Vance on I Love Lucy. She preferred the legitimate theater.
Adanor KennyNovak 10 months ago
Kind of hard to proclaim a Shakespearian speech from on top of a horse.
Mannixishot 12 months ago
I like Pernell Roberts and Adam is truly my favorite Cartwright but I gotta say I give props to Michael Landon. Michael became a quadruple threat because he studied stuff going on behind the scenes of Bonanza and he went in the opposite direction of Pernell. It sounds like Pernell just complained while Michael got to a point where he could write episodes, direct episodes, produce shows, etc. I truly wonder why Pernell didn't try going down that route even somewhat to make the job a little bit more tolerable?
Dina 12 months ago
The accident in 1962 wasn't "six years" after the program started so METV appears to have stretched the story a bit.
texasluva Dina 12 months ago
After the accident he played around 100 more episodes (3 years). It took him 14 years to play in another tv series/show more then 4 episodes. Most were 1 and done. Some movies and TV ones that did not amount to much. One rated 4.4 way below average. I guess Trapper MD was his calling 1979-1986.
Cowgirl texasluva 12 months ago
He did some guest star rolls and went back to doing theater.
DenisRives 12 months ago
I liked him better as TRAPPER JOHN MD and the gunslinger he played on an episode of GUNSMOKE.
Tampammm DenisRives 12 months ago
I'm watching that Gunsmoke episode right now. This is what Westerns are all about!
Pacificsun 12 months ago
I'm not sure who (Production or Fan) would want an actor who didn't want to be there.

It just shows such disrespect.
Mblack 12 months ago
You have to watch for those gopher holes
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