Pernell Roberts left 'Bonanza' in '65

By David Inman

The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal

Published: Monday, Feb. 13 2012 4:00 p.m. MST

Q: I never watched "Bonanza" originally, but now watch it every day on cable and I'm really enjoying it. When I first started watching it the Cartwrights consisted of a father and three sons, but suddenly now there are only two. The oldest, played by Pernell Roberts, has disappeared. What happened to his character? Did he ever come back?

A: Pernell Roberts, who played Adam Cartwright, left "Bonanza" in 1965. He had been outspoken about criticizing the show's writing and direction. The producers didn't want to kill him off, so it was explained that Adam went to sea. There he stayed until the show went off the air in 1973 — he never came back.

After "Bonanza," Roberts did a lot of TV guest shots, but he didn't appear in a regular series again until 1979, as the lead in "Trapper John. M.D.," on which he played "M*A*S*H" character Trapper John McIntire as a physician in modern-day San Francisco. That series ran on CBS until 1986.

Q: What is the name of the movie (I think it's from the 1960s) about a paraplegic who falls in love with a woman? Is it on DVD?

A: Could be one of several films.

It could be "The Men," a 1950 film with Marlon Brando as a paraplegic veteran.

It could be "Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon," a 1970 film with Liza Minnelli with Robert Moore as the paraplegic.

It could be "Coming Home," a 1978 film with Jane Fonda and Jon Voight as the paraplegic.

And it could be "Inside Moves," a 1980 film with John Savage as the paraplegic.

All are on DVD except "Junie Moon."

Q: I've been thinking about this one on and off for years. It was a movie, a made for television movie, or maybe even a "Twilight Zone" episode. It was the end of the world. All that was left was a pretty blonde and an African-American actor. Please help.

A: That's the 1959 film "The World, the Flesh and the Devil," with Harry Belafonte, Inger Stevens and Mel Ferrer.

Q: There is a commercial on METV that features a little boy who seems to be in charge of the people in the room and the TV. He tells them "Don't you be looking at me" and don't make any noise when the TV is on. He looks very familiar. Can you tell me who he is? I think he played a major part in an old TV program, but I don't know what.

A: That little tyke is Billy Mumy, who did gigs as frightening kids on "The Twilight Zone" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" before joining "Lost in Space" as space kid Will Robinson. No, his first name wasn't "Danger." That's just what the robot on the show said — "Danger, Will Robinson!"

Anyway, "Lost in Space" ran on CBS from 1965-68. The clip used on the commercial is from the "Twilight Zone" episode "It's a Good Life," wherein young Mumy is a kid with telekinetic powers who bullies a group of grownups.

Q: When I was much younger I saw a black-and-white movie about a married man and woman who were both unhappy with their lives. The familiar story: He thinks she has a better life and vice versa. They speak to an idol in their house — asking for a change. Wish granted, they change roles. Unhappy again, they turn to the idol once more. Again the idol changes them back. Title, please?

A: That's "Turnabout," a 1940 film with John Hubbard as married guy Tim, aka Sally, and Carole Landis as married woman Sally, aka Tim. It was also made into a 1979 NBC sitcom, with Sharon Gless and John Schuck.

Q: As a kid in the 1970s, I remember seeing a movie about a magical Volkswagen, but it wasn't "The Love Bug" or any of the "Herbie" movies. It may have been a foreign film — " the dubbed dialogue was pretty awkward. What was it?

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