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jakeem

Actor Robert Conrad (1935-2020)

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Robert Conrad, whose innovative 1960s television Western series "The Wild Wild West" was inspired by the James Bond movie craze, has died at the age of 84. A family spokesperson said the retired actor died Saturday in Malibu, California of heart failure. 

Conrad, whose real name was Conrad Robert Falk, also starred in the TV dramas "Hawaiian Eye" and "Baa, Baa Black Sheep" (also known as "Black Sheep Squadron").

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Created by Michael Garrison at the time the 007 spy films were international hits, "The Wild Wild West" joined the CBS Friday night lineup in September 1965. The first season's episodes were in black and white (CBS would go all-color a year later).

Set in the 1870s, the fanciful series starred Conrad as the stylishly dressed U.S. Secret Service Agent James T. West, who traveled the country's frontier regions in a specially equipped train and made reports to President Ulysses S. Grant (Roy Engel).

West himself was often outfitted with special gadgets designed to get him out of tough jams. Like Maxwell Smart, the character played by Don Adams in the contemporary NBC spy comedy "Get Smart," the 19th-century hero usually had an indispensable shoe.

West was accompanied on most of his law-and-order missions by fellow agent Artemus Gordon (played by Ross Martin), a master of disguise and impersonations. West and Gordon usually found themselves pitted against various and sundry megalomaniacs bent on world domination. One of his frequent foes was the diminutive mastermind Dr. Miguelito Loveless (played by the Oscar-nominated actor Michael Dunn).

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The series had its share of bad luck during its four-season run. In August 1966, producer Garrison died as the result of a fall at his home just before Season 2 episodes began airing on CBS. Meanwhile, Conrad -- who took great pride in the fact that he performed his own stunts and fight scenes -- suffered a head injury during the filming of Season 3 after a 14-foot fall from a chandelier onto a cement floor.  In addition, Martin fractured a leg and suffered a serious heart attack that sidelined him for several Season 4 installments (his shoes were filled temporarily by characters played by Charles Aidman, William Schallert, Alan Hale, Jr and John Williams).

"The Wild Wild West" was canceled by CBS after Season 4 in the midst of debates over television violence after the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. A decade later, Conrad and Martin reprised their roles as West and Gordon in the CBS made-for-television movies "The Wild Wild West Revisited" and "More Wild Wild West."

In 1999, Conrad made headlines by criticizing the casting of the African-American rapper-turned-actor Will Smith for "Wild Wild West," a big-budget screen version of the TV series. The movie version, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (the "Men in Black" series) and co-starring Kevin Kline as Gordon, was a critical and commercial disappointment.

In the late 1970s, Conrad parlayed his tough-guy image into a series of commercials for Energizer Batteries. The ads' tag line: "I dare you to knock this off."

 

 

 

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Robert Conrad played the police chief on Moving Violations. He only worked a day. I just remember on a chaotic set, he was super professional, courteous but no nonsense. In a further nod to his show-biz saavy he requested his role be uncredited.
 
5:53 PM · Feb 8, 2020·Twitter for iPhone
That cold blooded opening to #WildWildWest! Yep old enough to remember that show. 👵🏾 I used to love me some James T. West! Awesome charismatic actor! Rest In Peace, Robert Conrad
 
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7:57 PM · Feb 8, 2020 from Los Angeles, CA·Twitter for iPhone
 

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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!! #RIPRobertConrad #WildWildWest
 
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9:37 PM · Feb 8, 2020·Twitter for iPhone
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He was in one of my very favorite Columbo episodes from 1974...

screen.jpeg

His athletic body is fully on display in this one.

He's shirtless in nearly every one of his scenes.

Screen Shot 2020-02-08 at 4.30.28 PM.jpeg

Screen Shot 2020-02-08 at 4.28.18 PM.jpeg

Columbo is definitely going to nail him.

Screen Shot 2020-02-08 at 4.30.20 PM.jpeg

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Sad. always watched Robert Conrad when he starred in Hawaiian Eye. Handsome, talented man. What a lousy day and week for Hollywood.

RIP Robert Conrad

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I loved The Wild Wild West as a kid, eagerly anticipating Friday nights because of it. Robert Conrad as Jim West was the real deal when it came to action scenes. He and Ross Martin were great fun to watch together.

RIP Robert Conrad

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Oh no. 😢 I can't believe it. Why is it when we lose a famous actor,  another one soon follows? I loved The Wild, Wild West TV show. I hate to say it, but Ross Martin was my favorite part of the show. I also loved him in that episode of Columbo. He did his part well. Columbo hated him and actually displayed anger, which was usual, and I wanted him to get him in the end.

I wonder if there is truth to the Rule of Three. Are we going to lose another? 

 

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Same here.   I was about 2 when it premiered.  This, along with Jackie Gleason's show (from the fun and sun capital of the world, Miami Beach) and Gentle Ben are some of my earliest memories of watching prime time TV.

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6 minutes ago, Rudy's Girl said:

Oh no. 😢 I can't believe it. Why is it when we lose a famous actor,  another one soon follows? I loved The Wild, Wild West TV show. I hate to say it, but Ross Martin was my favorite part of the show. I also loved him in that episode of Columbo. He did his part well. Columbo hated him and actually displayed anger, which was usual, and I wanted him to get him in the end.

I wonder if there is truth to the Rule of Three. Are we going to lose another? 

 

There's already been a third.  Orson Bean was hit by 2 cars in LA and passed away.  It made the news before Robert Conrad's passing.

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10 minutes ago, TomJH said:

I loved The Wild Wild West as a kid, eagerly anticipating Friday nights because of it. Robert Conrad as Jim West was the real deal when it came to action scenes. He and Ross Martin were great fun to watch together.

RIP Robert Conrad

Robert Conrad was the real deal in The Wild Wild West. I've read he did his own stunts. I loved the duo of Robert Conrad and Ross Martin.

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FETV is running it on weekday afternoons. It's still fairly entertaining and was certainly different from the

usual 1960s western, with all the gadgetry and villains trying to take over the world, though the latter

got a bit tiresome after a while. And West had everything in his shoe heel but the Mona Lisa. Conrad

did appear without a shirt in many episodes and he certainly was buff, at least for that era. Even Ross

Martin would go shirtless on occasion, but no need to talk about that. I don't believe that Dr. Loveless

actually died in the last episode he was in, though I was always hoping the little bastard would get

his.

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Sad news.  I sold my own ROBERT CONRAD collection to his second wife LaVelda, a real sweet lady.  Good night, ROBERT.   

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7 minutes ago, Allhallowsday said:

 I sold my own ROBERT CONRAD collection 

If it's not prying too much, what exactly was in your Robert Conrad collection?

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5 hours ago, Vautrin said:

FETV is running it on weekday afternoons. It's still fairly entertaining and was certainly different from the

usual 1960s western, with all the gadgetry and villains trying to take over the world, though the latter

got a bit tiresome after a while. And West had everything in his shoe heel but the Mona Lisa. Conrad

did appear without a shirt in many episodes and he certainly was buff, at least for that era. Even Ross

Martin would go shirtless on occasion, but no need to talk about that. I don't believe that Dr. Loveless

actually died in the last episode he was in, though I was always hoping the little bastard would get

his.

Don't forget the actresses who appeared in the series. Many of them also had guest star roles on "Star Trek," which started a year later and lasted a year longer than "The Wild Wild West."

Antoinette Bower guest starred in Season 1's "The Night of Sudden Death." 

Image result for antoinette bower the wild wild west

Conrad with Yvonne Craig in the Season 1 installment "The Night of the Grand Emir." 

Image result for yvonne craig the wild wild west

Sherry Jackson was in the Season 2 episode "The Night of the Vicious Valentine," for which Agnes Moorehead won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

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Leslie Parrish appeared as an otherworldly creature in another Season 2 episode: "The Night of the Flying Pie Plate."

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A non-green Susan Oliver co-starred in Season 3's "The Night Dr. Loveless Died."

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Conrad and Arlene Martel in the Season 3 episode "The Night of the Circus of Death"

See the source image

 

Conrad and the late Marj Dusay in the Season 4 seafaring tale "The Night of the Kraken."

Image result for marj dusay "the night of the kraken"

 

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8 minutes ago, Allhallowsday said:

Sad news.  I sold my own ROBERT CONRAD collection to his second wife LaVelda, a real sweet lady.  Good night, ROBERT.   

Really? That is cool. 😃 Could I ask how?

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I saw this interview a couple years ago and really enjoyed it. They were promoting The Wild, Wild West Revisited, which I also liked.

 

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35 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

If it's not prying too much, what exactly was in your Robert Conrad collection?

I had several TV supplements from USA newspapers with ROBERT CONRAD on the cover (mostly for The Wild Wild West and Hawaiian Eye) some magazines, and many network photos from his TV series.  I still have a lot of TV and movie ephemera, but sold much of the best stuff 15 or 20 years ago.  I particularly love old TV stuff. 

31 minutes ago, Rudy's Girl said:

Really? That is cool. 😃 Could I ask how?

We connected through eBay and then communicated privately.  She was delightful to me and just about all of the RC stuff I had went to that lovely lady.  I was sad to learn they had divorced. 

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1 hour ago, jakeem said:

Don't forget the actresses who appeared in the series. Many of them also had guest star roles on "Star Trek," which started a year later and lasted a year longer than "The Wild Wild West."

Antoinette Bower guest starred in the Season 1's "The Night of Sudden Death." 

Image result for antoinette bower the wild wild west

 

 

Actually Star Trek ended the same time as The Wild Wild West as Trek only ran three seasons. Of course a lot of

the actresses who appeared on both shows were familiar faces who appeared in many TV shows of that era. I

remember the Antoinette Bower episode. She played a wild animal trainer who was a bit on the dominatrix side,

part of a deadly circus with the head man having some plan to take over the world or part of it. Barbara Eden

was also in a WWW episode, though she wasn't in Star Trek.  There were also a number of actors who played

President Grant. In the later seasons of the program it became more like a western with some of the crazy

villains and their hardware toned down and more typical western setting like small towns and saloons with

West wearing more typical western stuff not the fancy dan vests and jackets he wore earlier, though those

still showed up.

 

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34 minutes ago, Vautrin said:

Actually Star Trek ended the same time as The Wild Wild West as Trek only ran three seasons. Of course a lot of

the actresses who appeared on both shows were familiar faces who appeared in many TV shows of that era. I

remember the Antoinette Bower episode. She played a wild animal trainer who was a bit on the dominatrix side,

part of a deadly circus with the head man having some plan to take over the world or part of it. Barbara Eden

was also in a WWW episode, though she wasn't in Star Trek.  There were also a number of actors who played

President Grant. In the later seasons of the program it became more like a western with some of the crazy

villains and their hardware toned down and more typical western setting like small towns and saloons with

West wearing more typical western stuff not the fancy dan vests and jackets he wore earlier, though those

still showed up.

 

Thanks! I somehow didn't realize that the two series ended at the same time. Thank goodness for syndication! They'll probably run forever.

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You know, The Wild Wild West theme music has never left my mind. Every now and then I find myself humming it. It sure was catchy.

 

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23 minutes ago, TomJH said:

You know, The Wild Wild West theme music has never left my mind. Every now and then I find myself humming it. It sure was catchy.

 

I seem to remember that the series' episodes were scored by several composers, including Morton Stevens of "Hawaii Five-O"  fame. But the "The Wild  Wild West" theme was written by Richard Markowitz.

I also loved the fact that the characters in the opening animated segment were replaced in each episode's four acts by moments frozen before each commercial break. I wonder how many times the train was in it.

Image result for the wild wild west closingl animation

 

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1 hour ago, jakeem said:

Thanks! I somehow didn't realize that the two series ended at the same time. Thank goodness for syndication! They'll probably run forever.

Especially Star Trek. I likely wouldn't have realized it if I hadn't been watching the WWW reruns and did a little googling

around to refresh my memory. I believe that for a while they both ran on Friday nights, though at different times and

on different networks. Another interesting bit of trivia is that during the first season when the cartoon cowboy is

threatened by the saloon girl with a knife in the illustrated opening he kisses her and she is overcome. In later seasons

the cowboy slugs her and knocks her down.

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There is an episode of Star Trek called 'Wink of an Eye' where time for Kirk is sped up. He moves so fast that no one can see him, and when he speaks all the crew hears is a buzzing. I heard Robert Conrad say in a commentary the writers of that episode plagiarized it from The Wild, Wild West. Sure enough, on his show there was an episode called 'The Night of the Burning Diamond', which is basically the same idea. West and Gordon drink an elixir and become invisible because they are moving so fast. The villain, who has also drank the elixir and stolen a priceless diamond, makes authorities think they have stolen the diamond.

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