Pernell Roberts actually saw a doctor for his problems with Bonanza

"They always say that the hardest part of a journey is the first steps."

Despite his shortened tenure as the eldest Cartwright son, Adam, Pernell Roberts had a tumultuous relationship with Bonanza at best. In an interview with the Miami-Herald, Roberts took responsibility for a majority of his unhappiness on the series. He said of series creator David Dortort and his former costars, "It wasn't their fault. It was mine. The thing became a real crusher, mentally, for me. I even went to a doctor for help."

According to an interview with The Daily News Leader, Roberts said "I left Bonanza because I wanted to expand as an actor. Playing the same character week after week no longer was a challenge to me. The money, was great, sure, but I had to decide if I wanted just the money or a chance to prove myself as an actor. I chose the latter and found that almost everyone thought I was crazy."

Even after he finally got his wish and departed Bonanza, Roberts found that he still couldn't escape from the Cartwright's shadow. "I was being offered jobs, but they were all parts like Adam Cartwright. I had to just sit and wait until something came along that would show a different side of me. I worked, but I wasn't happy."

Luckily, Roberts kept at it and was able to find a career in acting that made him happy to go to work in the morning.

He stated, "It's been a long road, but they always say that the hardest part of a journey is the first steps. My feet sure didn't do much moving at first, but now I'm enjoying the holes in my shoes."

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21 Comments

Mannixishot 14 days ago
I hate this is what Pernell's legacy boils down to because it seems to be all that's discussed is Pernell's unhappiness with Bonanza and quitting the show. I feel like I make the same comment on all Pernell's articles about giving credit to Michael Landon because the man worked his butt off and studied different things after shooting his scenes. You watch a Michael Landon show and you won't be surprised to see him listed as actor, writer, director and producer. I wish Pernell had tried to do some of that instead of just sitting off to the sidelines and complaining. I say all this and I like Pernell more than I do Michael. But I'm being fair by backing Michael cause he did it right. And overall I think Michael was very happy with the projects he worked on. I know I've seen where he was big on doing family shows that an entire family could sit down and watch together. He was successful at it.

And I'm not trying to be critical when I say that. A lot of us go to our jobs and deal with stuff because of the paycheck. i reckon if you're the gambler sort and you're that unhappy, you might take a chance and see if you can find something that makes you happy instead of it being pure misery going to a job you hate.
harlow1313 14 days ago
It is interesting to read the comments that vilify Roberts. Quitting Bonanza makes him neither saint nor sinner.
JohnHardesty 14 days ago
Stay always where you're loved, forget egotistical aspirations, and forget your ideology of being the best.
Yoyo052 14 days ago
I'm just finding out Parnell Robert's was Trapper John M.D. I watched that show every week when I was younger.
KayFetzer 14 days ago
Wait a minute yall, before you start talking crap about a person you never met, maybe it's best to understand that you should walk a mile in his shoes before spouting off. I did the same thing for 8 years, for a lot less pay yes, until I realized there was something better and guess what, there was. I'm sure everyone of you have done the same. So what makes him different? He had the sense to move on and find something he might enjoy. Better than being stuck in a rut and unhappy. And yep, money isn't everything, so if he could provide for his family, good for him! Oh and remember what your momma told you about speaking ill of the dead....
JohnHardesty KayFetzer 14 days ago
You wrote a novel and still never said one word. lol
Detroit1950 14 days ago
Hop sing was my favorite character
Mannixishot Detroit1950 14 days ago
Ah, another Hop Sing fan. I wish there were more episodes that centered on him.
Runeshaper 14 days ago
I'm glad that he found his way to happiness (-:
TougasRobert 15 days ago
So, he didn't like playing the same character every week so he quit and wound up as Trapper John MD and played the same character week after week.
Yes. After years of struggling. Trapper John wasn’t even an original character but a dramatic role based on a character from a comedy. At least Adam Cartwright was all his. Some people are their own worst enemy.
I can't help but question content. I've never watched TJ MD. As far as I know, it's not on any channel. But I imagine that series tackled a lot of serious subjects while Bonanza had a lot of very silly episodes that I'd probably feel foolish acting out after a certain age. But ya know what? It seems like a lot of those silly episodes they passed over to Michael Landon and Dan Blocker. I have no idea if Pernell threw a big enough fit and refused to do the silly/stupid episodes or if they knew ahead of time: don't give the stupid stuff to Pernell. In his head it might still look bad to even be associated and credited with stuff a trained chimp could write better.
trogg888 15 days ago
You know I started playing in a cover band as a sophomore in high school and though over the decades I played a lot of the same songs because I played until I was in my 60s and I still play for my friends and even though I. NEver .made the big time I did what oved to do and still to do,got to travel overseas and played for a variety of audiences,even was a theater major in college and did .musicals but I never got tired of it. It was repetitious at times but I got gratification from the crowds who would applaud.if I had made it to pernells level of achie eme t I can't imagine being unhappy
McGillahooala trogg888 15 days ago
Some people are not happy with anything. They love misery. Sounds like Pernell Roberts.
Thacket McGillahooala 15 days ago
He obviously didn't love misery, that's why he left.
McGillahooala 15 days ago
Pernell Roberts was an ungrateful nut.
Thacket McGillahooala 15 days ago
There is nothing wrong with wanting to expand as an actor. Although I liked him on Bonanza, I don't think it suffered when he left.
DiamondGal 15 days ago
Seems like PR failed to realize that he was not a part of the Production Team. He also appeared to be very arrogant. He had the best character on the show; yet, he never appreciated it. His fame came from Bonanza even though he scoffed at that role.
Thacket DiamondGal 15 days ago
Ben, Hoss, Little Joe, and even Will were all better than Adam.
MrsPhilHarris 15 days ago
Interesting that he found playing the same character week after week was no longer a challenge yet after he left Bonanza he went back to the theatre. I guess it was different on stage. I imagine he had more opportunity to switch up the character.
WildWest 15 days ago
Bonanza should have replaced Pernell with Barry Coe. They would have had a better actor that knew how to make a show better with his talent. Barry Coe as Clay Stafford would have made a great show even better.
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