WASHINGTON: Robert Conrad, an American actor known for starring in the 1960s science fiction television series “The Wild Wild West,” died at age 84, US media reported on Saturday.
“He lived a wonderfully long life and although the family is sad for his death, he will live forever in their hearts,” Jeff Ballard, a spokesman for the Conrad family, told People magazine.
After working as a milkman and trying to succeed as a nightclub singer, Conrad’s career took off in 1959 when he joined the cast of the “Hawaiian Eye” television show after moving to Los Angeles, People reported.
Between 1965 and 1969, he was elected as the Secret Service agent James T. West in “The Wild Wild West,” in which he, along with his partner Artemus Gordon, explored the western United States during the presidency of Ulysses S Grant
The series served as the basis for the 1999 film adaptation “Wild Wild West,” a critical failure among the most expensive films ever made, in which Will Smith plays West and Kevin Kline as Gordon and Grant.
Conrad reportedly called the remake “pathetic” when it unexpectedly appeared in the 2000 Razzies, an annual celebration of the worst Hollywood productions, to accept the worst film award, according to The Hollywood Reporter (THR).
In the seventies, he went on to star in “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, a World War II drama, as a real-life pilot, Commander Greg “Pappy” Boyington. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in 1978.
He was famous for performing his own stunts, one time dropping 14 feet on a cement floor while filming “The Wild Wild West.”
Frightened executives, fearful of losing their star actor, tried unsuccessfully to ban him from performing his own stunts, THR said.
But in 2006 he explained to the Archive of American Television that performing acrobatics helped him get the first roles in the industry.
“When there was a speech role and a trick associated with that speech role, they hired me, because you received two for the price of one,” he said.
Conrad appeared on other television shows in his career, many of them short-lived, along with several films, including “More Wild Wild West,” a spin-off of the television series. He made his last appearance in the cinema in 2002.
“There are three cycles in the entertainment world,” Conrad told People in an interview in 1988.
“They don’t know you, then they love you and you’ve been there for so long that they hate you.” Now I’m starting over. “
Conrad is survived by his eight children and 18 grandchildren, People reported.