Robert Conrad, Star of 'The Wild Wild West,' Dies at 84


LOS ANGELES - Robert Conrad, known for iconic role in the television series "The Wild Wild West" has died at his Malibu home. He was 84.

Conrad was born in Chicago and attended Northwestern University, where he studied acting career. One of his first paying roles was a week-long job posing outside a Chicago theater when the 1956 film Giant was showing; Conrad bore a resemblance to the iconic actor James Dean, who starred in Giant so his mother used her entertainment industry contacts to help him get the part, which was intended as a publicity stunt to boost attendance at the theater. Conrad also studied singing; his vocal coach was Dick Marx, the father of singer Richard Marx.

He went on to sign a contract with Warner Brothers where he landed a role on its detective show "77 Sunset Strip" and then made "Hawaiian Eye," a follow-up series. Conrad starred as detective Tom Lopaka. He was introduced on Strip, then spun off into his own series that ran from 1959 to 1963.

During this time, Conrad released several recordings with Warner Bros. Records the late 1950s and early 1960s which included a minor Billboard hit song in "Bye Bye Baby" which reached #113 on its charts.

In 1965, Conrad began work on his most iconic role as government agent James West on the popular weekly CBS series "The Wild Wild West," which aired until 1969. He would go on to star in a number of movies and television shows over the next several years until he was cast as the lead in "Baa Baa Black Sheep," from 1976 to 1978 as legendary tough-guy World War II fighter ace Pappy Boyington in Baa Baa Black Sheep, re-titled for its second season as "Black Sheep Squadron."

Conrad also starred in the television series "High Mountain Rangers" in 1987 co-starred Conrad's two sons and was produced by his daughter Joan Conrad. He also appeared in the made-for-television movies "Police Story: Gladiator School" (1988), and "Glory Days" (1988). He also produced "Jesse Hawkes" (1989), a short-lived series and a spin off of "High Mountain Rangers."

Conrad appeared in the popular music video for Richard Marx's Hazard, which was a #1 hit in 13 countries including the United States. He had a supporting role in Jingle All the Way (1996) with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Conrad's later credits include an episode of Nash Bridges and the film Dead Above Ground (2002).

Conrad appeared in the movie Samurai Cowboy in 1994. The following year, he created the TV movie Search and Rescue, in which he starred, which in turn led to a short-lived TV series, also created by Conrad.

Conrad is survived by 18 grandchildren and eight children, that he shared with his ex-wives LaVelda Fann and Joan Kenlay.

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