Pernell Roberts – Bio, Spouse, Why Did He Leave Bonanza?

Known as the bearded actor with the baritone voice, Pernell Roberts was a well-known singer and actor. He is best known for his outstanding performance in Gold Mine – The Western TV Series which aired from 1959 to 1965. The famous actor has also been in numerous notable productions, but his role on the set of Trapper John, MD – A Series, which ran between 1979 and 1986, took him to another level of fame.

Pernell’s fine baritone voice has been featured in several musicals including The Music Man, The King and I, Camelot, Kiss Me Kate, as well as The Sound of Music He died on January 24, 2010 in Malibu, California, USA. The following paragraphs tell you the story of his life.

Pernell Roberts – Bio

Pernell Roberts was born the only scion of Pernell Elven Roberts Sr. – a salesman to Dr. Pepper and his mother’s name is Minnie Myrtle Morgan Roberts. He was born in Waycross, Georgia, USA in 1922 and celebrates his birthday every May 18th. He was named after his father, given the birth name Pernell Elven Roberts, Jr.

During his school years, Pernell Roberts discovered his natural passion for the performing arts while actively participating in both school and church. He also realized he had real potential for singing in high school. He performed as a singer at the local USO shows and also mastered playing the horn.

Pernell Roberts went to the Georgia Institute of Technology, also known as Georgia Tech, but he couldn’t get a degree. He enlisted in the military in 1946 and later served in the US Marine Corps for a number of years. Even during his years of service in his country, Pernell was never separated from his artistic competence; He was very active in playing tuba and horn in the Marine Corps Band. He also had a good understanding of how the percussion and sousaphone musical instruments worked. The years he spent in college brought him closer to his destiny as an artist. The rising star was also active in stage production at the time, while at school recording a total of 4 productions; notable among them are Antigone and Othello.


Pernell Roberts had his fair share of failing relationships during his lifetime. His relationship timeline chronicled four marriages and three divorces for the legendary performer. His first contact with marriage was in 1951 when he tied the knot on January 4 with his first wife, Vera Mowry. Vera earned her living at Washington State University as a professor of theater history. She later taught at Hunter College and is also known as Professor Emeritus of the Doctoral Program in Theater at City University of New York. Pernell had his only child with Vera – a son named Jonathan Christopher “Chris” Roberts who was born in 1951. Eight years later, in 1959, Vera and Pernell’s marriage ended in divorce.

His second marriage was to Judith AnnaLeBrecque, the couple exchanged vows on Oct. 15, 1962, but just like his first time, Pernell’s second marriage in 1971 hit the rocks barely nine years later. Judith joined him in 1979 as a guest star on an episode of Trapper John, MD There is no record of a birth during the entire duration of their marriage. A year later, on October 19, 1972, Pernell Roberts married Kara Knack. However, in 1996 the marriage ended in divorce.

At the time of his death on January 24, 2010, Pernell still had Eleanor Criswell as his fourth wife. They married in 1999 and stayed together until death came.

Pernell’s only child Chris Roberts was a student at Franconia College but sadly he died prematurely in 1981 after a motorcycle accident.

Why did he leave Bonanza?

The reason Pernell Roberts left Bonanza was because he always turned down his assigned role. His dislike didn’t extend to the show itself, just the character he portrayed, who acted in a way he didn’t like. He eventually left an argument with the show’s producers that the boys in the cast should be referred to as sons.

Although Pernell loved his colleagues on the set and didn’t want to leave them, he openly declined to renew his contract, believing that he could do better elsewhere. At that point, money just wasn’t his top priority.

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