The former star of "Bonanza" and "Trapper John, M.D.," has died. He had a reputation as a good actor who was also his own man -- who walked away from "Bonanza," even though it was hit, because he was unsatisfied with the show -- and that came through in 1991, when he met the press to promote "FBI: The Untold Stories," a series he was promoting. I dug out the transcript to offer a few excerpts.
Most of it involved Q&A with the show's producers. But Roberts was asked why he came back to TV with that show (which aired 1991-93), five years after "Trapper John" ended:
After I ... finished "Trapper John: I was kind of in a bit of a burnout, if you will. So I pulled back for awhile and did some things I'd wanted to do for a very long time, in terms of traveling, reunions with people who were very important -- influential in my development as an actor and as a human being. And I think the thing about this was because of the lifestyle that I've been sort of living for the last three or four years, I felt a need to move back out, so to speak, into the mainstream. ...
I must say, I'm a little selfish. It's kind of a cushy job. You know, I come in for a day on the camera, then for a day on the narration and voiceovers. So it seemed to really meet my needs, in terms of where I am at this point in my life, philosophically and otherwise.
Roberts said his deal was similar to the one Fred MacMurray famously had on "My Three Sons." We used to talk about that when I was doing "Bonanza." We were on a car commercial together once, and I said, "You really got it made, you know. ... How can I get that kind of deal?" I finally got it.
But here's what may be the most telling exchange from the press conference, and the last time anyone tried to ask Roberts a question:
Q: Are you a fan of the FBI?
Roberts: I will make no comment about that. I don't think that's relevant.
Q: Well, I think it is. You're fronting a show called "FBI: The Untold Stories." ... We should know what your attitude is toward it.
Roberts: Well, that's your opinion. I don't happen to agree with it.
His own man.