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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Pernell Roberts!


I’m sure it’s very clear by now that I love westerns. And while a lot of people grew up watching western movies, I grew up watching western television. My two favorites were Gunsmoke and Bonanza. As I was so young, I didn’t actually start watching either of these westerns until probably 1970 or 71. So when I first started watching Bonanza, Pernell Roberts was not even on the show. I didn’t even KNOW about Adam Cartwright.

But sometime in the later 70’s I started seeing re-runs of Bonanza and there suddenly before me was this absolutely gorgeous man in his mysterious black clothes, riding the best horse on the Ponderosa! After I got my first look at Adam Cartwright, all the other Cartwrights simply faded into the woodwork and I was hooked.

And what wasn’t to love? Good looking. A voice to die for. A man who moves with cat-like grace and confidence.

Now I bet you’re thinking, “She can’t possibly tie this to the writing life, can she?”

Why yes I can!

All books have a hero. And authors find their inspiration for their story hero in a million different places. For some they cut out pictures in magazines of someone they picture their hero to look like. Some authors may base their hero on someone they know. For me, a little bit of Pernell Roberts shows up somehow in all my leading men. It may just be a character with black hair, or hazel eyes that alternate between green and soft-brown, almost golden. Or it may be a character whose mannerisms personify those I saw in Adam Cartwright. But always a little nuance of this terrific actor is there.

So while Mr. Roberts may be celebrating his 80th birthday and is, as far as I know, quite happily retired from acting, he continues to influence new generations. He may have only been on Bonanza for 6 of it’s approximately 13 year run, but it is he who had the most profound impact on the show.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Roberts. May your days be blessed and full of grace.

1 comment:

Patti Shene said...

Hey, Brenda, I always thought Adam was the best of the Cartwrights as well. I'm quite a bit older than you, so I watched the very first episode of Gunsmoke the night it aired (Sept 10, 1955). I was all of four years old, but I think I fell in love with westerns about then. My goodness, there were so many back then. Bonanza, Cheyenne, the Rifleman, the list goes on and on. Anyway, back to Pernell Roberts. He stars in one of my favorite Gunsmoke episodes entitled "Stranger in Town". He was a great actor. I hope his birthday was fabulous!