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"Charmed, I'm sure."

-as James T. West in The Wild Wild West (1966)

Robert Conrad tested for the role of Major Anthony Nelson on I Dream of Jeannie (1965). He was offered the role of Hannibal Smith on The A-Team (1983), but turned it down because he preferred to produce his own projects. He also turned also down George Gaynes role in Police Academy (1984), which he later regretted.

Robert Conrad (born March 1st, 1935) is an American film and television actor, best known for his role in the 1965–1969 CBS television series The Wild Wild West, playing the sophisticated Secret Service agent James T. West. He also portrayed World War II ace Pappy Boyington in the television series Black Sheep Squadron. He was a recording artist of pop/rock songs in the early 1960s as Bob Conrad before he began his acting career. He has hosted a weekly two hour national radio show (The PM Show with Robert Conrad) on CRN Digital Talk Radio since 2008.

Conrad was born Conrad Robert Norton Falk in Chicago, Illinois. His father, born Leonard Henry Falkowski (born November 3rd, 1918), was then 16 years old; Leonard was of Polish ancestry. His mother, Alice Jacqueline Hartman (born May 15th, 1919, daughter of Conrad and Hazel Hartman), was 15 years old when she gave birth, and named her son after her own father. She would go on to become first publicity director of Mercury Records, known as Jackie Smith. She would marry several times, including once to Chicago radio personality Eddie Hubbard in 1948. Eddie Hubbard and Jackie Smith reportedly had a child together (born circa 1949) before splitting up in 1958.

Conrad lied to get a job when he was seventeen. He had eloped with a lawyer's daughter,who was attending a religious boarding school. The only place he could think of where a kid his age could get decent wage was the loading docks in Chicago. He told them he was 21 and made $1.87 an hour, $74.40 a week.

When he eloped, he and his wife lived under the assumed name "Robert Conrad" so their parents wouldn't find them. They only told their parents where they were in May of 1952 when his wife found out she was having a baby. They were thrilled because they figured it would be too late for their parents to annul the marriage.

Years later when asked in interview in Photoplay magazine if his daughter were to marry as a teenager like he did, "If some sixteen-year-old punk were to come to me and say, 'Sir, I want to marry your daughter' I'd say, 'Fine', and escort him to an analyst. The average boy that age isn't remotely capable from any point of view, including the emotional of supporting a family."

Conrad got fired from his job at the docks in December of 1954 for handing out a petition to get his union steward fired. His wife was six months pregnant with their second child at the time.

Robert Conrad was a graduate of Northwestern University, spending his first few years out of school supporting himself and his family by driving a milk truck and singing in a Chicago cabaret. Conrad befriended up-and-coming actor Nick Adams during this period, and it was Adams who helped Conrad get his first Hollywood work in 1957. A few movie bit parts later, Conrad was signed for a comparative pittance by Warner Bros. studios, and in 1959 was cast as detective Tom Lopaka on the weekly adventure series Hawaiian Eye on ABC-TV, co-starring opposite Anthony Eisley and Connie Stevens (above).

While at Warner Bros., Conrad took advantage of Warner's recording division. He eventually released several recordings issued on a variety of LPs, EPs, and SPs 33 and a third and 45 rpm records during the late 1950s and early 1960s. He had a minor Billboard hit song in "Bye Bye Baby" which reached #113. In 1959, he played Billy the Kid in the episode "Amnesty" of Colt .45.

Hawaiian Eye was a hit and lasted from 1959 to 1963. The show was also a big hit overseas. In Mexico he signed a recording contract with the Orfeon label where he released two albums, a few singles sung in Spanish, and was introduced as his Hawaiian Eye character Tom Lopaka. After Hawaiian Eye Conrad played "Eric Dean" in the 1963 spring break film Palm Springs Weekend and in 1965, garnered fame with the starring role in The Wild Wild West (airing on CBS for 4 seasons), which was a ratings success, consistently winning its time slot until its cancellation in 1969. Playing agent James West in The Wild Wild West, Conrad brought home $5000 a week during the series' first season and enjoyed increasing remunerations as The Wild Wild West remained on the air until 1969. There are those who insist that The Wild Wild West would have been colorless without the co-starring presence of Ross Martin, an opinion with which Conrad has always agreed.

On The Wild Wild West Conrad did most of his own stunt work, resulting in several injuries during the course of the show. During one episode's shooting, he slipped while performing a stunt and fell head first onto a concrete floor 12 feet below. Seriously injured, his recuperation delayed the series' production for nearly three months. He was later inducted into the Stuntman's Hall of Fame for his work on The Wild Wild West.

After the cancellation of the series, Conrad starred in such roles as prosecuting attorney Paul Ryan in the short-lived 1971 NBC series, The D.A., and American spy Jake Webster in the series Assignment Vienna. He starred in a third season episode of Mannix called "The Playground" and in an episode of Columbo ("An Exercise in Fatality").

With his muscular build and cigarette-induced gravelly voice, Conrad found ratings success from 1976-78 playing legendary tough-guy World War II fighter ace Pappy Boyington in Baa Baa Black Sheep, retitled for its second season and in later syndication as Black Sheep Squadron. Dirk Blocker's was one of the young co-stars on the show and his father, Dan Blocker (Bonanza), was a friend of Conrads.

In 1978 he starred in the short lived TV series "The Duke" as boxer turned private eye Duke Ramsey. In 1980, he played a paraplegic coach in Coach of the Year, which featured a then sixteen-year-old Richard Marx (credited as "Richard Marks"), as a high school football player. In the late 1970s, he served as the captain of the NBC team for six editions of Battle of the Network Stars. He played a modern-day variation of James West in the short-lived series A Man Called Sloane in 1979, which was around the same time that he reprised the role of West in a pair of made-for-TV films. He also starred in the 1978 TV miniseries Centennial. At the time of his former co-star Ross Martin's death in 1981, he and Conrad were in the planning stages of another "Wild, Wild West" TV series, a project Conrad didn't want to pursue without Martin.

Though few of his series after Wild Wild West survived past the first season, Conrad has enjoyed success as a commercial spokesman and in the role of G. Gordon Liddy (whom the actor admired) in the 1982 TV movie Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy (1982). As can be gathered from the Liddy assignment, Conrad's politics veered towards conservatism; in 1981, he and Charlton Heston were instrumental in toppling Ed Asner and his liberal contingent from power in the Screen Actors Guild.

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 1986, he was a special guest referee for the main event at Wrestlemania II featuring Hulk Hogan vs King Kong Bundy inside a steel cage.

In 1988, Conrad starred in a short-lived television series, High Mountain Rangers, with two of his sons. High Mountain Rangers, known for its spectacular scenery and stunts, had a one-season spinoff, Jesse Hawkes. In 1990, Conrad starred in the made-for-television adventure film Anything to Survive alongside Matt LeBlanc and Emily Perkins. In 1992, Conrad played the role of the sheriff in Richard Marx's "Hazard" music video. In 1996, he played the part of a police officer in the film Jingle all the Way. He took over hosting The History Channel's Weapons At War (later Tech Force) in 2000, succeeding George C. Scott.

As the star of the original TV series The Wild Wild West (1965), Conrad attended The 20th Annual Razzie Awards, snidely accepting several of the tacky statuettes on behalf of the Barry Sonnenfeld movie version of the Wild Wild West (1999). The film swept that year's dis-honors with 5 awards, including Worst Picture of 1999.

He appeared in the documentary film, Pappy Boyington Field, where he recounted his personal insights about the legendary Marine Corps Aviator that he portrayed in the television series. Conrad hosts a weekly radio talk show on CRN Digital Talk Radio.

Conrad was married to Joan Kenlay from February 23rd, 1952 until their divorce in 1977; the couple had five children. His second marriage, to LaVelda Ione Fann, produced three children. After living in Bear Valley in the High Sierra, Conrad and Fann relocated to Thousand Oaks, California in 2006. Conrad and Fann divorced in 2010.

Conrad would be joined on some television shows by his sons, Shane and Christian, and his daughter, Nancy. Another daughter, Joan, became a television producer. In a 2008 interview, Conrad described the late Chicago Outfit "made man" and burglar, Michael Spilotro, as his "best friend." Spilotro's slaying was featured in the movie Casino.

Conrad was involved with a volunteer organization in Bear Valley known as Bear Valley Search and Rescue, which later formed the basis for High Mountain Rangers.

On March 31st, 2003, while on Highway 4 in the California Sierra foothills near his Alpine County home, Conrad drove his Jaguar over the center median and slammed head-on into a Subaru being driven by 26-year-old Kevin Burnett. Both men suffered serious injuries. Tried on felony charges, Conrad pleaded no contest, and he was convicted of drunk driving. (His blood-alcohol level had been 0.22 percent, nearly three times the legal limit.) He was sentenced to six months of house confinement, alcohol counseling, and five years probation.

A civil suit filed by Kevin Burnett against Conrad was settled the following year for an undisclosed amount. In 2005, Burnett died at age 28 from perforated ulcers, which his family attributed to his difficult recovery from the crash. Conrad himself suffered severe nerve injuries from the crash, which left his right side partially paralyzed.

    Selected Robert Conrad TVography

77 Sunset Strip
- Shadow on Your Shoulder (1962)
- Who Killed Cock Robin (1960)
- Only Zeroes Count (1959)

A Man Called Sloane (TV Series)
- as Thomas Remington Sloane III (1979, 12 episodes)

- The Radical (1971)

Assignment: Vienna
-as Jake Webster (1972-1973, 8 episodes)

Baa Baa Black Sheep
- as Maj. Greg 'Pappy' Boyington (1976-1978, 36 episodes)

Bat Masterson
- One Bullet from Broken Bow (1959)

The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour
- Episode #1.3 (1982)

Colt .45
- Amnesty (1959)

- An Exercise in Fatality (1974)

The D.A.
- as Deputy D.A. Paul Ryan (1971-1972, 15 episodes)

The Duke
 - as Oscar 'Duke' Ramsey (1979, 12 episodes)

The Gallant Men
- And Cain Cried Out (1962)

Hawaiian Eye
- as Tom Lopaka (959-1963, 104 episodes)

High Mountain Rangers
- as Jesse Hawkes (11 episodes, 1988)

High Sierra Search and Rescue
- as Griffin 'Tooter' Campbell (6 episodes, 1995)

Highway Patrol
- Revenge (1959)

J.J. Starbuck
- A Killing in the Market (1987)

Jesse Hawkes
- as Jesse Hawkes (6 episodes, 1989)

Kraft Suspense Theatre
- Four into Zero (1965)

- Battle Scar (1959)

Lock Up
- The Harry Connors Story (1959)

The Man and the Challenge
- Maximum Capacity (1959)

- The Playground (1969)

- Yellow River (1959)

Mission: Impossible
- Break! (1972)
- The Killer (1970)
- The Contender: Part 1 and 2 (1968)

Nash Bridges
- Heist (2000)

Sea Hunt
- Water Ski Show (1959)
- The Stunt (1959)

Temple Houston
- The Town That Trespassed (1964)

The Wild Wild West
- as Jim West (1965-1969, 104 episodes)

    Selected Robert Conrad Filmography


Thundering Jets

Juvenile Jungle


Red Nightmare (Short)


Palm Springs Weekend


La nueva Cenicienta


Young Dillinger


The Bandits

Ven a cantar conmigo


D.A.: Murder One (TV Movie)



Weekend of Terror (TV Movie)


Five Desperate Women (TV Movie)

D.A.: Conspiracy to Kill (TV Movie)


Adventures of Nick Carter (TV Movie)


The Last Day (TV Movie)

Murph the Surf


Smash-Up on Interstate 5 (TV Movie)


Sudden Death


The Wild Wild West Revisited (TV Movie)

The Lady in Red

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do (TV Movie)


More Wild Wild West (TV Movie)

Coach of the Year (TV Movie)


Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy (TV Movie)

Wrong Is Right


Confessions of a Married Man (TV Movie)


Hard Knox (TV Movie)


Two Fathers' Justice (TV Movie)

Moving Violations (uncredited)


One Police Plaza (TV Movie)

Assassin (TV Movie)

Charley Hannah (TV Movie)

The Fifth Missile (TV Movie)


Glory Days (TV Movie)

Police Story: Gladiator School (TV Movie)


Anything to Survive (TV Movie)


The Kennedy Assassinations (TV Movie, Host)

Mario and the Mob (TV Movie)


Sworn to Vengeance (TV Movie)


Search and Rescue (TV Movie)

Samurai Cowboy

Two Fathers: Justice for the Innocent (TV Movie)


Jingle All the Way


Garbage Day (Short)

New Jersey Turnpikes


Dead Above Ground

    Robert Conrad links

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