Monday, January 25, 2010

Pernell Roberts, RIP


It's been many years now since actor Pernell Roberts has been in the public eye, so it's a little sad that his presence in the news after so long is due to his passing at 81 after a battle with cancer.  Roberts had been a passionate civil and social activist during his life, and he amassed a proud legacy in that arena.  On television, Roberts is probably most remembered for his role as Adam Cartwright, eldest of Lorne Greene's four rancher sons on TV's Bonanza.  While that show came and went a little bit before my time, my memory of the actor comes from his seven years as the titular lead on Trapper John, MD, a series I first discovered as a five-year old, and which will probably be permanently lodged in my frontal lobe thanks to its terrifically '80s title sequence.

A spin-off of M*A*S*H (officially the film, not the TV series -- though I guess it's sort of irrelevant), Trapper had Roberts taking over the role that Elliott Gould played in the feature (and which Wayne Rogers played, and ditched, on the show) many years removed from his Korean War experiences, now a Chief of Surgery in San Francisco.  Sadly, while Trapper John enjoyed a lengthy seven year run from '79 to '86, it's been mostly forgotten since, unseen in syndication, and unreleased on DVD (which is a surprise, given how popular MASH remains).  Hopefully the unfortunate event of star Pernell Roberts passing will prompt the studio to dust off this hidden gem and share it with the public once again.

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