Robert Conrad has died. The prolific TV and film actor who shot to fame on the 1960s series, The Wild Wild West, passed away Saturday, February 8, due to heart failure. Conrad, 84, died at his home in Malibu, TMZ reports.
Conrad family spokesperson Jeff Ballard said the actor lived “a wonderfully long life” and “will live forever” in his family’s hearts. Conrad had eight children from two ex-wives.
Robert Conrad started his TV career playing Detective Tom Lopaka in the 1959 series, Hawaiian Eye. Classic TV fans best knew him as Secret Service agent Jim West in The Wild Wild West, from 1965 to 1969. In the 1970s he played Maj. Greg “Pappy” Boyington in the series, Black Sheep Squadron.
The busy actor also turned up as a guest star on other high-profile shows TV shows in the ’60s and ’70s, including Mission: Impossible, Mannix, Columbo, Adam-12, and the miniseries Centennial.
One of Conrad’s most iconic TV appearances had nothing to do with acting. In 1979, he competed on the popular reality competition, Battle of the Network Stars, where he was the captain of NBC’s team. After then-teen heartthrob Leif Garrett taunted “old man” Conrad during the dunk tank competition, Conrad, who was 43-years-old at the time, hurled a fastball so hard it instantly landed the stunned pop singer in ice-cold water.
Fans may also recall Conrad’s stint as a pitchman for Eveready Batteries. The actor famously stared into the camera with a menacing look and challenged viewers to knock a battery off his shoulder.
“Come on, I dare you to knock this off,” Conrad said in the series of commercials for the brand.
While he pulled off a tough guy persona in the Eveready commercials, in real life, Conrad more of a Mr. Nice Guy.
“I’m only about 5-feet-8 and only weigh 165 pounds as of this morning, so I’m not the world’s meanest guy,” he once said, according to USA Today. “If you treat me nicely, I’ll treat you nicer. If you’re rude to me, put your headgear on. Here it comes.”
Conrad’s film career included roles in the The Wild Wild West spin-off movie, More Wild Wild West, as well as The Lady in Red, Samurai Cowboy, and Jingle All the Way. His last acting credit came in the 2002 movie, Dead Above Ground.
Conrad was also an accomplished singer, who recorded albums under the name Bob Conrad in the 1950s and ’60s, according to People.
A private memorial service for Robert Conrad will be held on March 1, which would have been the actor’s 85th birthday.