Pernell Roberts, the last surviving Cartwright, passed away last week at the age of 81. Perhaps best remembered as Adam Cartwright, the oldest of Ben Cartwright’s sons on NBC’s Bonanza, Roberts left the incredibly popular series after six seasons (1959-1965) because he wasn’t happy with the role. His character was said to be off at college, leaving the door open for his return. Bonanza would ultimately run for thirteen and a half seasons, ending in January of 1973 Instead, he moved to theater and the occasional guest spot on shows like The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., The Big Valley, The Love Boat and Bronk. In 1979 he returned to series television in Trapper John, M.D., which ran until 1986. According to his Internet Movie Database page, his last television appearance was on Diagnosis Murder in 1997.
Whether you know him as Adam Cartwright or Trapper John, there’s no denying the fact that Roberts left an enduring impression on television audiences. Obituaries can be found at Variety, BBC News, The Washington Post, CNN.com and The New York Times.