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Actor Robert Conrad

Robert Conrad (1935–2020), star of TV’s “The Wild Wild West”

by Linnea Crowther

Robert Conrad was an actor best known for his starring role as Secret Service agent James West on the 1960s TV show “The Wild Wild West.” The hit show, conceived as “James Bond on horseback,” featured Conrad and his costar, Ross Martin, saving 19th century America from any number of threats using anachronistic gadgets. Conrad also starred as detective Tom Lopaka on “Hawaiian Eye” from 1959 to 1963 and as World War II fighter ace Pappy Boyington on “Baa Baa Black Sheep” – renamed “Black Sheep Squadron” – from 1976 to 1978. His other short-lived series include “The D.A.,” “A Man Called Sloane,” and “High Mountain Rangers.” Conrad starred in a number of TV movies and miniseries, including “Centennial,” “The Duke,” and “Will: G. Gordon Liddy.”

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Died: February 8, 2020 (Who else died on February 8?)


Details of death: Died in Malibu, California of heart failure at the age of 84.

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Other projects: Though Conrad was best known for his TV roles, he also appeared in a number of movies, including “Palm Springs Weekend” (1963), “Sudden Death” (1977), and “Jingle All the Way” (1996). He had a singing career, recording as Bob Conrad, in the 1950s and ‘60s, including the minor hit single “Bye Bye Baby.” Conrad did his own stunts in “The Wild Wild West,” and he directed several episodes of “Black Sheep Squadron.” He wrote and directed the 1967 film “The Bandits,” and he continued to direct episodes of shows including “High Mountain Rangers” and “The Duke.” Conrad became known in the 1970s for his commercials for Eveready batteries, in which he placed a battery on his shoulder and challenged viewers to knock it off: “Come on, I dare ya.” In recent years, Conrad hosted the radio show “The PM Show with Robert Conrad” for CRN Digital Talk Radio.

Conrad on the enduring popularity of “The Wild Wild West”: “The show that wasn’t supposed to work, works. I feel like the battery I used to represent. I feel like the Energizer. I am going on and on and on.” —from a 1994 interview with the Los Angeles Times

What people said about him: “So sorry to hear of the passing of Robert Conrad. I worked with him when I first got to LA on A Man Called Sloane. He was quite a character!!” —actress Morgan Fairchild

“If you were a young boy in the late 60s or early 70s and deny that you wanted to be James West, then you’re lying. I carved a secret compartment out of the heel of my shoe. RIP Robert Conrad.” —Fox News host Greg Gutfeld

“Another fun actor from my formative years. ‘Wild Wild West’ was the coolest show on the planet and no doubt influenced ‘Brisco’ a few decades later. Ride on, Robert!” —actor Bruce Campbell

Full obituary: The New York Times

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