Robert Conrad, who played in the futuristic Western Wild Wild West series from the 60s, dies at the age of 84
Robert Conrad, who played an Old West update about James Bond in the popular 60s Wild Wild West TV series, died on Saturday at 84.
According to his spokesperson Jeff Ballard, the actor died of heart failure in his home in Malibu.
“He lived a wonderfully long life, and while the family is saddened by his death, he will live forever in their hearts,” Ballard said.
Television star: Robert Conrad, who played an Old West update on James Bond in the popular 60s Wild Wild West TV series, died on Saturday at 84; shown in 2013
After a short career in the film, Conrad was put under contract by Warner Bros. Television, and most of his most popular work was for the small screen.
His first major success was on the Hawaiian Eye detective series, on which he played as the half-Hawaiian private investigator Tom Lopaka.
The most popular series from Conrad was Wild Wild West, which creator Michael Garrisoin envisioned as “James Bond on horseback.”
He played as the secret service agent James West, working with the inventor and master of disguise Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin), to protect President Ulysses S. Grant and the United States government.
Modest beginnings: Conrad’s first success was on the Hawaiian Eye detective series, which he played shortly after launching his TV career; still from Wild Wild West
Zeitgeist: Conrad’s most popular series was Wild Wild West, who envisioned maker Michael Garrisoin as ‘James Bond on horseback’
The series started from traditional Western shows and contained science fiction elements with its futuristic gadgets and fantastic villains.
Wild Wild West was popular with viewers, but was violent for television from the mid to late 1960s.
Conrad performed most of his own stunts on the series and he even choreographed the fights with stuntman Whitey Hughes.
Towards the end of the third season he suffered a serious injury resulting in a broken skull and concussion, which slowed production while he recovered.
After the political revolution of 1968 and the murders of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, congressmen reinforced their criticism of violent TV.
Wild Wild West was a victim of network appeasement, and CBS canceled the show towards the end of the fourth season, despite still having strong reviews.
Top secret: he played the role of secret agent James West, who worked with the inventor and master of disguise Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin), to protect President Ulysses S. Grant and the US government.
Bloody screen: Wild Wild West was popular with viewers, but was canceled after four seasons when Congress began to crack on violent television; still from Young Dillinger
After the cancellation, Conrad played in a number of short-term legal and crime dramas, before finding success again with the Baa Baa Black Sheep series from the Second World War.
He played the real fighter pilot Major Greg “Pappy” Boyington in the show, which ran from 1976-1978 and was named Black Sheep Squadron in syndication.
Conrad has also appeared in several episodes of Mission: Impossible, as well as The D.A., 77 Sunset Strip, Columbo, Adam-12, Maverick and the mini series Centennial.
In later years he played a humorous supporting turn in the Christmas comedy Jingle All The Way alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad.
Conrad later played in the WWII kite series Baa Baa Black Sheep and he was featured in episodes of Mission: Impossible, The D.A., 77 Sunset Strip and Columbo
He was born in 1935 in Chicago, Illinois, where he worked as a truck driver after quitting high school at the age of 15; still from Glory Days
Conrad was born on March 1, 1935 in Chicago.
He quit high school at the age of 15 to load and drive vans.
After his theater studies at Northwestern University, he met actor Nick Adams when the two visited James Dean’s grave in Fairmount, Indiana.
With the encouragement of Adams, Conrad moved further west to California to further develop his acting career.
Special Meeting: Conrad moved to California to continue acting after meeting the actor Nick Adams at James Dean’s grave in Fairmount, Indiana; shown in 2013
During his early years, he divided his time between acting and singing.
Conrad was married to Joan Kenlay from 1952-1977, with whom he shared five children.
After their amicable divorce, he remarried LaVelda Ione Fann, with whom he had three more children.
Conrad did not argue for drunk driving after driving his jaguar into a car driven by 26-year-old Kevin Burnett, who died two years later. The crash left Conrad with a partially paralyzed left side
In 2003, Conrad crashed his jaguar into 26-year-old Kevin Burnett’s car near his home in Alpine County in Northern California.
Both survived but were seriously injured and Conrad was convicted of driving under the influence after not advocating a match.
Burnett died two years after the crash.
The left side of Conrad was partially paralyzed due to nerve damage from the crash.