Robert Conrad, the actor best known for his role in the television show The Wild Wild West, died today in Malibu, Calif. of heart failure. He was 84 and his death was announced by a family spokesman.
Born in Chicago, Illinois on March 1, 1935, Conrad moved to Los Angeles in 1958 and found almost instant success, booking a recurring role on the TV show Hawaiian Eye in 1959.
After Hawaiian Eye, he scored his signature role, that of Secret Service agent James West in The Wild Wild West. The show ran from 1965 to 1969, but became an even bigger hit in syndication. The premise followed West and sidekick Artemus Gordon as the country’s first Secret Service agents, taking on the super villains of the era during the Ulysses S. Grant administration.
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After Wild West West, Conrad moved on to other television shows, including The D.A., Assignment: Vienna, Centennial and Baa Baa Black Sheep later (which was syndicated as Black Sheep Squadron.)
The series spun off into a film, with Conrad reprising his role in More Wild Wild West. He also appeared in the films Murph the Surf, The Lady in Red and Samurai Cowboy. His last appearance came in 2002 in Dead Above Ground.
The versatile Conrad also recorded several albums during his career under the name Bob Conrad. He also became something of a tough-guy symbol thanks to his commercials for Eveready batteries. Conrad placed a battery on his shoulder and dared viewers to knock it off.
Conrad was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in Broadcasting and an inductee of the Stuntman’s Hall of Fame.
Conrad is survived by 18 grandchildren and eight children, shared with ex-wives LaVelda Fann and Joan Kenlay.
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