He was a true rebel, the actor who shocked the nation by quitting the No. 1 show on TV in 1965. The last surviving member of the Western series “Bonanza,” P
aernell Roberts, died in Malibu at age 81, the Associated Press reports.
Pernell Roberts, who played Adam Cartwright, the eldest of three sons in the series’ Nevada ranching family, was instantly made famous by the role, but unhappy at the show’s premise; he didn’t like that the brothers had to defer to strong-handed patriarch Ben Cartwright, played by Lorne Greene. He quit in 1965 when his contract was up. The show continued on until 1973.
After more than a decade doing TV show appearances and theatrical touring, he hit it big again, in 1979, as the star of "Trapper John, M.D," which ran until 1986.
–Elizabeth Jensen and Chuck Ross