Robert Conrad: Wikis


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For the U.S. judge, see Robert J. Conrad
Robert Conrad
Born March 1, 1930 (1930-03-01) (age 80)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Years active 1965-2002
Spouse(s) Joan Kenlay Conrad (1952-1983)
LaVelda Fann Conrad (1983-present)

Robert Conrad (born March 1, 1930[1]) is an American actor and director of film and television. He is primarily known for the 1965-1969 CBS television series The Wild Wild West, in which he played the sophisticated Secret Service agent James T. West, and his portrayal of World War II ace Pappy Boyington in the television series Black Sheep Squadron. He currently hosts a weekly 2 hour national radio show ("The PM Show with Robert Conrad") on CRN Digital Talk Radio.



Early life

Conrad was born in Chicago, Illinois,[2] of English, German and Polish descent.[citation needed]


Before The Wild Wild West, Conrad played Tom Lopaka in ABC's Hawaiian Eye opposite Anthony Eisley and Connie Stevens. In the 1970s, he played such roles as prosecuting attorney Paul Ryan in a short-lived 1971 TV series, The D.A., and American spy Jake Webster in the series Assignment Vienna. With his muscular build and cigarette-induced gravelly voice, Conrad found ratings success playing legendary tough-guy World War II fighter ace Pappy Boyington in Baa Baa Black Sheep on NBC (retitled for its second season and in later syndication as Black Sheep Squadron), from 1976 to 1978.

In the late 1970s, Conrad served as the captain of the NBC team for six editions of Battle of the Network Stars. In the first edition, his race against ABC's team captain Gabe Kaplan in the final event to settle a dispute regarding a technical foul (raised by CBS's team captain Telly Savalas) in the earlier co-ed track relay. An infraction by NBC teammates during a baton hand-off had caused NBC to suffer a 2-second penalty, giving the victory to Kaplan's ABC team. Conrad challenged Kaplan in good sportsmanship to run one last time. The race was held on the same regulatory clay track soon after the disputed relay had been completed. At the sound of the gun, Conrad sprinted to an early lead and led going into the turn with Kaplan close behind. As the pair came out of the turn, Kaplan drew even with Conrad, who was beginning to show his fatigue. As they entered the straight-away, Kaplan began his finishing kick and out-sprinted Conrad to take a commanding lead and crossed the finish line well ahead of a winded Conrad, who was some 20 yards behind.[citation needed]

Conrad also played a modern day variation of James West in the short-lived secret agent series A Man Called Sloane in 1979, about the same time he reprised the role of West in a pair of made-for-TV films. He also starred in the 1978 TV miniseries Centennial on NBC.

Conrad was widely identified in the late 1970s for his television commercials for Eveready batteries, particularly his placing of the battery on his shoulder and prompting the viewer to challenge its long-lasting power: "Come on, I dare ya". The commercial was frequently parodied on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show and The Carol Burnett Show. In 1988, Conrad starred in a short-lived TV series called High Mountain Rangers with two of his sons. He also starred in that show's one season spin-off Jesse Hawkes. In 1992, Conrad played the role of the sheriff in Richard Marx's Hazard video.

Conrad took over hosting The History Channel's Weapons At War (later Tech Force) in 2000 following George C. Scott's 1999 death. In 2006, Conrad recorded audio introductions for every episode of the first season of The Wild Wild West for its North American DVD release on June 6. The DVD set also included one of Conrad's Eveready battery commercials; in his introduction, Conrad stated that he was flattered to be parodied by Carson. He was inducted into the Stuntman's Hall of Fame[3] for his work on The Wild, Wild West series.

He appears in the documentary film, Pappy Boyington Field, where he recounts his personal insights about the legendary Marine Corps Aviator that he portrayed in the television series.[citation needed]

Robert is currently hosting a radio talk show on CRN Digital Talk Radio, Thursdays 3-5p Pacific Time. ( )

Personal life

Robert Conrad was married to Joan Kenlay from February 23, 1952 until their divorce; that union produced five children. He remarried and remains wed to LaVelda Fann; they have three children. He lived in Bear Valley, California in the High Sierras until 2006, but now lives in Southern California with his wife and their children.

In a 2008 interview, Conrad described the late Chicago Mafia associate and burglar Michael Spilotro as his "best friend".[4] The friendship came to an abrupt end when Spilotro was beaten to near death with baseball bats and then buried while still alive in an Indiana cornfield in a famous mafia slaying. Spilotro's mob slaying is portrayed in the movie Casino.

Conrad was reportedly involved with a volunteer organization in Bear Valley known as Bear Valley Search and Rescue. The rescue organization formed the basis of the television series High Mountain Rangers which aired briefly in 1988.[citation needed]

Conrad has been out of the public eye since 2003, when he was involved in a devastating car accident. Conrad was driving his Jaguar drunk on Highway 4 in the California Sierra foothills near his Calaveras County home, when he crossed over the center median and slammed head-on into a Subaru being driven by 26-year-old Kevin Burnett. Both men suffered serious injuries.[5][6] Burnett's family blame Conrad for the death of their son two years later as a result of perforated ulcers connected to the difficult recovery he had from the crash.[7]

Conrad was convicted of drunk driving (his blood-alcohol level was 0.22 percent, nearly three times the legal limit) and was sentenced to six months of house arrest. He also lost his driver's license for one year. During his DUI trial, court documents listed his year of birth as 1930, not 1935 listed in most entertainment biographies; the latter year would have made him 16 years old at the time of his first marriage.[8]


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