Although Bonanza was a hit, Pernell Roberts wished he left the show sooner
"I thought it would be a sophisticated show."
Bonanza is one of the most popular classic Western series in television history. The show produced over 400 episodes through 14 seasons and it was one of the first to highlight social issues. Although viewers loved the show, one cast member felt it didn't live up to his expectations: Pernell Roberts.
We all know Roberts as Adam Cartwright in the series, the son of Ben Cartwright, who was the most educated of his brothers. The actor left the series after six seasons while its popularity increased, and the media criticized his decision. Roberts even felt his words were twisted "to fit a negative narrative" when he revealed why he left the show.
Although he left after his contract ended, Roberts wished he had left the show sooner. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune in 1979, the actor revealed that he didn't regret his decision to depart from the production.
The interviewer, Marilyn Beck, asked if he was "sorry he fled the Ponderosa after six seasons," and Roberts responded with, "God no! I'm sorry I wasn't able to get out of my contract and leave sooner."
Some might ask, "But what about the money?" since he was getting paid for his contributions to the role. Yet Pernell Roberts wasn't in the business for massive financial gain. He said, "So the others made millions. How much does one person need to live? I've never needed or wanted that much."
He often revealed his disappointment in the show's plot during interviews, and this one wasn't any different. "My problems with Bonanza were problems of communication," the actor added. "What we discussed [never happened]. I thought it would be a sophisticated show."
Being a big star was never Roberts' goal. "I've never been career-oriented. Did I ever want to be a star? What's a star? Is that something in the heavens?" he said. "That's the only definition that comes to my mind. And the most important goals in my life have been to move gently, to be at ease with the mystery of what it's all about."
It's safe to say that Pernell Roberts did what he felt was best for him.
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Fun fact: Of the four actors who were the leads in Bonanza, only Michael Landon didn't wear a hairpiece of any kind...