As reported by People, actor Robert Conrad from the original Wild Wild West TV series has died. In a statement, a spokesperson for the family said he “lived a wonderfully long life and while the family is saddened by his passing, he will live forever in their hearts.” Conrad was 84.
Born in Chicago in 1935, Conrad was the child of two teenage parents, and his mother—Alice Jacqueline Hartman—later became the publicity director for music group Mercury Records. Conrad dropped out of school as a teenager so he could get a job, and he worked as a milk truck driver while studying acting. When Giant was in theaters in the ‘50s, Conrad’s mother got him a job as, essentially, a James Dean impersonator who would stand outside a theater. Conrad’s own appreciation for James Dean (and their resemblance to each other) helped inspire Conrad to move to California to seriously pursue acting.
His first breakout role was in 77 Sunset Strip spin-off Hawaiian Eye, which he starred in, and that led to roles in Palm Springs Weekend and Where The Boys Are. Conrad followed that up with an even bigger breakout role as Secret Service agent James West in the sci-fi Western Wild Wild West, which ran for over 100 episodes on CBS in the ‘60s. Conrad performed most of his own stunts for the show (which was more or less “steampunk” before that word existed), resulting in him suffering a handful of injuries over the course of the series—including a concussion that came from a 15-foot fall after he tried to swing on a chandelier.
Conrad had a number of other prominent TV and film roles after Wild West West, including The D.A., Black Sheep Squadron, and the Wild Wild West spin-off movie. People notes that he is survived by eight children and 18 grandchildren.