Student Work – Percy Sutton and Pernell Roberts

Percy Sutton

Percy Sutton

by Celeste Mathis

You asked me to prepare a memo about someone infamous, famous, interested or influential who is now deceased.

During my research, I found that Mr. Percy E. Sutton was both, influential and interested.  Mr. Sutton was born on November 24, 1920 in San Antonio.  Mr. Sutton’s journey began when he arrived in New York when he stowed away on a passenger train when he was only 12 years old.   Mr. Sutton had a passion for civil rights and worked in political campaigns both for others and for himself.  He entered into politics in early 1950.  Mr. Sutton was an intelligence officer with the Tuskegee Airmen, the famed all black unit of the Army Air Forces in New York.  Mr. Sutton worked as a decorated captain in the Second World War and won combat stars in the Italian and Mediterranean theaters.

Mr. Sutton was a candidate for mayor in 1977, but had a weak campaign and was fifth in the Democratic primary, but he did not give up on his political goals.  Mr. Sutton served as Manhattan Borough President and during that time, he invested in media companies, brought the New York Amsterdam, purchased AM radio stations, brought the Apollo Theater at bankruptcy and helped expand the New York City Marathon into five boroughs.

Mr. Sutton died on December 26, 2009 in Manhattan at a nursing home in New York City.  His cause of death is unknown at this time.  Mr. Sutton is survived by his wife, Leatrice Sutton, who divorced him and remarried him; a second wife who he married and divorced named Eileen Clark before Leatrice Sutton remarried him; a son named Pierre Sutton; a daughter named Cheryl Lynn Sutton; his sister, Essie Mae Sutton and four grandchildren.

Mr. Sutton’s family empire owns 17 commercial radio stations across the nation.  Mr. Sutton’s estate remains under siege because one of his companies owes more than $1 million in taxes to the state.  Mr. Sutton has pending lawsuits that was filed before his death in state Supreme Court in Manhattan by two co-founders of Inner City Broadcasting who is demanding millions in damages.


Douglas Martin, Editorial, Percy E. Sutton, Political Trailblazer, Dies at 89, N.Y. Times, Dec. 27, 2009.

Isabel Vincent, Editorial, Fall of the house of Percy Sutton, N.Y. Post, Jan. 3, 2010.

Pernell Roberts - second from right

Pernell Roberts

by Julia Najjar

The actor Pernell Elvin Roberts Junior, who was born in Waycross, Georgia on May 18 1928, was perhaps best known as Adam Cartwright on the longest running western television sitcom called Bonanza in the late 1950’s and as the title character on the sitcom Trapper John, M.D. that ran through the late 80’s. Roberts died from pancreatic cancer at his home on January 24, 2010 at the age of 81 with his wife Eleanor Criswell at his side in Malibu, California. Roberts who was an only child, of Pernell E. Roberts, Sr. and Minnie Myrtle Morgan Roberts who are deceased, only had one son, named Christopher Roberts, who died in 1989 due to motorcycle accident.

Roberts also made numerous guest appearances on TV shows such as “Mission: Impossible, The Wild Wild West, Gunsmoke, Welcome Home, the Odd Couple, Diagnosis Murder,  Hawaii Five-O, and CBS’s MASH series.  He received an Emmy in 1981 for his role in Trapper John, M.D. but was well known beyond the screen for his quiet singing career and battle with NBC and ABC against “junk TV antics” such as whites portraying minorities and playing into racial stereotypes. It is reported that Roberts loved to cook, sing, read literature, and play tennis, swim and run. At the end of his career he appeared as captain of the CBS teams of Battle of the Network Stars 11 and 12 in 2001.

Due to no other information via the web, it is presumed that Roberts’s surviving will and estate would have been left to his late wife Eleanor Criswell since he has no living siblings or children.



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