Pernell Roberts Passes Away


Pernell Roberts, who starred in Trapper John, M.D. on CBS from 1979 to 1986, passed away last week at the age of 81. I’m sure many people, myself included, know him better as Adam Cartwright from NBC’s Bonanza, which he left in 1965 after six seasons. Back when cable channel FX had the rights to M*A*S*H it also had the rights to Trapper John, M.D., at least for a while, and I recall two episodes airing back-to-back early on Sunday mornings during the late 1990s.

Pernell Roberts in Trapper John, M.D.

Cast of Trapper John, M.D. – Pernell Roberts At Center

Technically, according to a court ruling, Trapper John, M.D. is a spin-off of the movie MASH and a “sister show” to M*A*S*H. Although never as popular as M*A*S*H<>, Trapper John, M.D. was a solid performer for CBS and gave Pernell Roberts a career resurgence. An obituary can be found at The New York Times.

7 Replies to “Pernell Roberts Passes Away”

  1. Oh my goodness. I’m very shocked that I didn’t hear about this. The whole eight days and not a word.

    Well, I’ll always remember him as Adam. Especially in the third season, he really shined. Just take a look at ‘The Jackknife’, ‘The Wooing of Abigail Jones’ and who can forget, ‘The Crucible’. Even though Hoss was my favorite of the bunch, Adam was always my special favorite. Bonanza, except for the first season without him, was never really the same.


  2. Trapper John, M.D. was a very enjoyable show. His sidekick, Gonzo Gates, was a doctor who had served in Viet Nam, and they talked often about their wartime experiences. His nurse, Ernestine Shoop, was a nurse he served with in Korea. His ex wife, with whom he remained close was played by Jessica Walter. I finally began to like her during the show, and had always disliked her due to her GREAT portrayal of a psycho in “Play Misty for Me”. It really was a pretty good show for its time.

    Pernell Roberts was also a bad guy in old westerns. I remember he killed the fiance of Glen Ford in “The Sheepmen”. And of course was then later killed by Ford. He was also in my favorite mini series of all time (until of course Lonesome Dove came out) – Captains and the Kings. But I think EVERYONE was in that one. LOL

  3. My mom was very fond of Pernell Roberts, but then again, Bonanza was a favorite of hers growing up, and she had a crush on all the Cartwright boys… but it seemed like Adam moreso, lol.

    On the note of the Trapper John spin-off, I remember seeing an opening montage of the pilot for the show, and I seem to recall clips from the series of M*A*S*H of the choppers and ambulances and whatnot infultrating his dreams as he napped in his office. There is also a photograph hanging in his office of him and Hawkeye standing outside the Swamp, but no one has been able to deduce whether its Elliot Gould and Donald Sutherland, or indeed Wayne Rogers and Alan Alda.

  4. The scene with the picture is on you tube – and it is obvious that the two people in the picture are supposed to be the Hawk and the Trap that we all know and love from the television show (check out the hair) – however I don’t see the symbol on the SWAMP door, the sign post seems to be relocated, and the Trapper figure is MUCH taller than the Hawkeye figure. I don’t think Wayne Rogers is notably taller than Alan Alda, is he? It must have been made for the television show – and not an actual shot. Check it out for yourself on you tube, search for “Trapper John MD first episode” and the picture comes up after the guy on the stretcher is loaded into a helicopter at the hospital. What do YOU think?

  5. Wayne Rogers and Mike Farrell both seem a little taller than Alan Alda, but not by much. Maybe a couple of inches or so at bes.

  6. Like many actors of the generation where I grew up or have watched countless reruns, Pernell Roberts seemed to have been the most generous person. He was very demanding, but he lived a wonderful life. I’ve loved him on Trapper John, M.D., but I didn’t know he was a Cartwright. I’ll surely miss his smile, his humor and his talent. His death brought us all the great shock in our lives!

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