MALIBU—Actor Robert Conrad, best known for his role in the television show “The Wild Wild West: died at the age of 84 in Malibu from heart failure on Saturday, February 8.
Born Conrad Robert Falk on March 1, 1935 in Chicago, Illinois, Conrad worked as a milkman while pursuing a career as a local nightclub singer. He moved to Los Angeles in 1958 where he booked his first big recurring role on “Hawaiian Eye” in 1959.
After “Hawaiian Eye,” he starred as a Secret Service agent in “The Wild Wild West,” which ran from 1965 to 1969. Conrad saw success in his acting career and went on to star in more television shows, including “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” which was later syndicated as “Black Sheep Squadron.”
Conrad played a police officer annoyed with a father chasing after a toy for his son’s Christmas gift, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the movie “Jingle all the Way.” His last appearance was in the 2002 movie “Dead Above Ground.”
He received a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in Broadcasting and was inducted into the Stuntman’s Hall of Fame. Conrad was a longtime supporter of amateur boxing, 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.
On March 31, 2003, Conrad drove his Jaguar over the center median and slammed head-on into a Subaru driven by a 26 year-old while on Highway 4 near his Alpine County home. Both men suffered serious injuries and Conrad was arrested on felony charges for drunk driving. He pleaded no contest and was convicted and sentenced to six months of house confinement, alcohol counseling, and five years probation.
A separate civil suit filed by the other driver, Kevin Burnett, against the actor was settled the following year for an undisclosed amount. In 2005, Burnett died at age 28 from perforated ulcers, which his family attributes to his difficult recovery from the crash. Conrad suffered severe nerve injuries from the crash, which left his right side partially paralyzed.
A small private service is scheduled for March 1, which would have been Conrad’s 85th birthday. His family is requesting that donations be made to the Wounded Warrior Project and The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation in lieu of flowers.
Conrad is survived by 8 children and 18 grandchildren. He was previously married to LaVelda Fann whom he had 3 children with and Joan Kenlay whom he had 5 children with.