Actor Robert Conrad, known for the television show “The Wild Wild West,” died Saturday at the age of 84, according to his family spokesperson Jeff Ballard.
Conrad died of heart failure in Malibu, California, a little less than a month before his 85th birthday, Ballard said.
“He lived a wonderfully long life and while the family is saddened by his passing, he will live forever in their hearts,” Ballard said.
Conrad went from milkman to Hollywood star
Conrad was born in Chicago on March 1, 1935, Ballard said.
He worked as a milkman while he pursued a career as a nightclub singer before packing up and moving to Los Angeles in 1958. He was quickly signed to Warner Bros. Pictures and went on to star in numerous television shows and films. He recorded several albums before being cast as series regular Tom Lopaka on the ABC detective series “Hawaiian Eye.”
Conrad appeared in many TV shows throughout the 1960s before landing the lead role in the CBS Western crime series “The Wild Wild West,” Ballard said.
Conrad played James T. West, a Secret Service agent during the administration of President Ulysses Grant. West and fellow agent Artemis Gordon, played by actor Ross Martin, sometimes solved crimes using technology that didn’t actually exist during the 1800s, lending a science fiction feel to the series.
Conrad told the Television Academy in 2006 that he performed his own stunts on the show.
Conrad later went on to star in two other series, “The D.A.” and “Assignment: Vienna” in the 1970s. He also starred in the war drama “Black Sheep Squadron,” where he played Maj. Greg “Pappy” Boyington. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and won the People’s Choice Award for his role in “Black Sheep Squadron,” Ballard said.
Conrad also served as a national spokesman for Eveready batteries, where his catchphrase “I dare you” became popular.
Conrad gave back to his community
Conrad supported many organizations helping those in need, Ballard said.
He was a longtime supporter of the Wounded Warriors Project, Paralyzed Veterans of America, the United States Marine Corps and the Jimmie Heuga Endowment, which provides support to those affected with multiple sclerosis. He was also a proponent of amateur boxing, Ballard said.
Conrad was also a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in Broadcasting and an inductee of the Stuntman’s Hall of Fame.
A small private service is pending for March 1.
Conrad is survived by his eight children and 18 grandchildren from two different marriages.