Sep. 12, 1959
60 min.
NBC TV Network

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The Cartwright's thousand-square-mile Ponderosa Ranch is located near Virginia City, Nevada, site of the Comstock Silver Lode, during and after the Civil War. Each of the sons was born to a different wife of Ben's; none of the mothers is still alive. Adventures are typical western ones, with lots of personal relationships/problems thrown in as well

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Adam Cartwright Bonanza
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Adam Cartwright

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  Played by:
Pernell RobertsPernell Roberts
Best recalled as the first member of the Cartwright clan to permanently leave the Ponderosa in the hopes ...

Character Bio

Adam Cartwright photo
Georgia-born Pernell Roberts played eldest son Adam, an architectural engineer with a university education. Adam built the impressive ranch house ("The Philip Diedesheimer Story", Oct. 31, 1959; "Bonanza: The Return", NBC TV, April 21, 1993). Roberts disdained the assembly-line mindset of serial television (a rigid 34 episode season), and fought with series writers regarding Adam's lack of independence, noting that his thirty-plus year old character was dependent on his "Pa's" approval. Despite the show's success, Roberts departed the series after the 1964–65 season (after 202 episodes) and returned to stage productions. Attempts to replace Adam with Cartwright cousin Will (Guy "Zorro" Williams), and Little Joe's maternal half-brother Clay (Barry Coe) were unsuccessful ("Bonanza: Scenery of the Ponderosa: Candy Canaday"). A season six storyline called for Adam, with his new bride and step daughter, leaving the Ponderosa. After four weeks, scripts were revised by having Guy Williams' Will depart the series prematurely, with Adam's fiancee at his side. It was Landon, not Roberts, who objected to the infusion of any new Cartwrights ("Bonanza: Scenery of the Ponderosa: Candy Canaday"). After Roberts did leave the following year, it was eventually mentioned that Adam had gone "to sea", and in the later movies he had emigrated to Australia. In Autumn of 1972, the series producers considered inviting Roberts back in the wake of Dan Blocker's passing: "One suggestion was to return Pernell Roberts, who had played another Cartwright son when Bonanza first hit the airwaves fourteen years ago. We only considered that briefly," {producer Richard] Collins says... Some people felt it was a logical step- the oldest son returning at a time of family need- but most of us didn't think it would work." (Dick Kleiner, NEA, July 18, 1972.

Episode Screenshots

01x21 - The Spanish Grant
Season 1, Episode 21
03x05 - The Burma Rarity
Season 3, Episode 05
04x31 - Thunder Man
Season 4, Episode 31
03x06 - Broken Ballad
Season 3, Episode 06
[More Episodes]

Adam Cartwright Photos

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Previous: Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright Next: Will Cartwright
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