Pernell Roberts - Updated May 2024

Updated On February 12, 2024
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Waycross, Georgia, USA
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Pernell Roberts

Pernell Roberts was an American actor and singer. Pernell Roberts is best remembered for his performance in the Western TV series ‘Bonanza’. He has also contributed to the music industry.

Early Life

He was born Pernell Elven Roberts Jr. on May 18, 1928. He is from Waycross, Georgia, USA. He was the single child of Minnie Myrtle Morgan Roberts and Pernell Elven Roberts, Sr.

Moreover, his father was a ‘Dr. Pepper’s salesperson. He realized his passion for acting during his high school years when he acted in school and church plays.

Therefore, it was during the same time that he discovered his potential as a singer. And, he sang at local ‘USO shows’ and learned how to play the horn.

He attended the ‘Georgia Institute of Technology’, but he did not graduate. And, in 1946, he was enlisted in the army, and thereafter, he served in ‘The United States Marine Corps’ for 2 years.

Moreover, even when he was serving the country, he was not divorced from his artistic self. Therefore, he played the horn and the tuba in the ‘Marine Corps Band.’

Roberts also had a coherent knowledge of the sousaphone and percussion instruments at that time.

His first encounter with classical theater was during his years at the ‘University of Maryland,’ though he did not graduate from there either.

There, his years brought him closer to his destiny as an actor. Moreover, when he was a student, he acted in four productions, two of them being ‘Othello’ and ‘Antigone’.

Pernell Roberts

Caption: Pernell Roberts’s picture. Source: Pinterest


On January 24, 2010, the cause of his death was pancreatic cancer in Malibu, California, United States.

How many times did Pernell marry?

Pernell Roberts married four times. He tied the knot with Vera Mowry, 1951, who was a professor of theater history at Washington State University.

Their marriage ended a few years later. Therefore, they had a son named Jonathan Christopher Roberts, who died in an unfortunate motorcycle accident in 1989.

And, he married Judith Anna LeBrecque on October 15, 1962. Therefore, the marriage lasted almost a decade, before ending in 1971. Later, he married Kara Knack but again got a divorce in 1996.

Similarly, in 1997, he married Dr. Eleanor Criswell and remained married to her till the end of his life. And, sadly, he died of pancreatic cancer on January 24, 2010, in Malibu, California, USA.

Pernell Roberts – Net Worth 2024

Now, talking about his earnings, his net worth was $10 million.

Career and Professional Life

Pernell finally made his professional debut on the stage in 1949, with ‘The Man Who Came to Dinner,’ at the ‘Olney Theatre’ in Olney, Maryland.

And, soon after, he appeared as ‘Dan’ in Emlyn Williams’s Night Must Fall’ and as ‘Alfred Doolittle’ in GB Shaw’s immensely successful play ‘Pygmalion’ at the ‘Bryn Mawr College Theatre,’ Philadelphia.

His first claim to fame was as a theater actor. Moreover, in 1950, he moved to Washington, DC. And, in the first 5 years of the decade, he worked extensively as a stage artist.

Likewise, for 2 years, he performed at the ‘Arena Stage’ and was part of several productions, some of them being ‘The Adding Machine’, ‘Twelfth Night’, ‘Taming of the Shrew’, ‘Children of Darkness’, ‘The Glass Menagerie’, ‘Julius Caesar’, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, and ‘She Stoops to Conquer.

Likewise, in 1952, he moved to New York and started working on ‘Broadway’ and ‘Off-Broadway’ projects.

Followingly, he performed in ‘Off-Broadway’ operas and ballets at the ‘North American Lyric Theatre,’ the ‘Equity Library Theatre,’ and other reputed venues.

Further, some of the ‘Broadway’ productions he worked in were ‘Tonight in Samarkand,’ ‘The Lovers,’ ‘Merchant of Venice,’ ‘Doctor Faustus,’ ‘St. Joan,’ ‘The Duchess of Malfi,’ and ‘Measure for Measure’.

Pernell Roberts

Caption: Pernell Roberts and other cast members from ‘Bonanza’. Source: Jeremy

More about his career

He finally made his TV debut in 1956, with a role in an episode of the anthology series ‘Kraft Television Theater’, titled ‘Shadow of Suspicion’.

It was followed by a string of guest appearances in series such as ‘Whirlybirds’, ‘Gunsmoke’, ‘Buckskin’, and ‘Sugarfoot’. Roberts signed his first film, ‘Desire Under the Elms’ in 1957.

Similarly, in 1959, he secured a career-defining role in the ‘NBC’ western series ‘Bonanza’. Roberts appeared in the series for 6 long years, and this became the most talked-about performance of his career.

His folk album, ‘Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies’, was released by ‘RCAVictor’ in 1963.

Additionally, some of his most notable songs were ‘Shady Grove,’ ‘They Call the Wind Mariah,’ ‘The Water is Wide,’ ‘A Quiet Girl,’ ‘In the Pines,’ and ‘Sylvie.’

His music earned praise. Likewise, in the 1970s, he returned to the stage with Ingrid Bergman’s Captain Brassbound’sConversion’.

And, in the 1980s and the 1990s, he made appearances in a large number of TV series and a handful of TV films, such as ‘The Wild Wild West,’ ‘The Night Train to Kathmandu,’ and ‘Donor’.

And, his last TV appearance was in a 1997 episode of ‘Diagnosis: Murder’.

Furthermore, ‘Bonanza’, a Western TV series, was the most significant project of his acting career. Therefore, he worked with the show for 6 long years.

In 1955, Roberts won the ‘Drama Desk Award’ for ‘Best Actor’ for his performance in an Off-Broadway production of ‘Macbeth’.

Likewise, he was nominated for the ‘Emmy Award’. It was for the category of ‘Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series,’ for his performance in ‘Trapper John, M.D’ in 1981.

Pernell Roberts

Caption: Pernell Roberts and other members of the Cartwright family on “Bonanza”. Source: Los Angeles Times

Body Measurements

At the time, Pernell was 6 feet taller and his weight was around 80 kilos. Moreover, his hair color was gray and his eyes were light brown. Besides these, there is no other information regarding his body stats.

Pernell Roberts – Social Media

At that time, he was not active on any social media profiles.