Pernell Roberts: An appreciation
Yes, I was named after Adam Cartwright, the character Roberts played on the still-popular 60s TV Western "Bonanza." My mother, it is safe to say, was and is the world's biggest "Bonanza" fan. Adam was her favorite character, and Pernell Roberts her earliest celebrity crush.
I grew up watching "Bonanza" reruns with her, and it was easy to see why she favored Adam over the show's more obvious teen idol, Michael "Little Joe" Landon. Adam was the oldest of the three Cartwright boys, meaning he was the responsible, mature one. He was well-read, musically inclined; a sensitive artsy type, basically. Little Joe, by comparison, was just a punk. (My favorite character, of course, was Hoss, because he was the funny fat guy. No kid's gonna like Adam more than Hoss, namesake be damned.)
As I grew up, I began to appreciate how talented Roberts really was. Besides being a good-looking dude (I wish he could have been my jawline-sake, too -- holy crap), Roberts was a pretty fine actor, to boot. (Get it? Boot? Western.) One of my all-time favorite "Bonanza" episodes featured Roberts and Lee Freaking Marvin in an epic battle of wills and scene-chewing. SPOILER ALERT: This clip is from the end of the episode, but it's a good example of Roberts' formiddable chops.
Roberts famously left "Bonanza" after six seasons, at the peak of its popularity. He got some bit roles here and there on shows like "Mission: Impossible," and eventually headlined another series, "Trapper John M.D.," in the 70s. But he never quite acheived the level of success both I, and especially my mom, thought he deserved.
Here then, in tribute, is another clip from "Bonanza": Adam and guest-star Hoyt Axton singing a fittingly appropriate song called "Endless Road."
-- Adam Reinhard, email@example.com