Robert Conrad

For the U.S. judge, see Robert J. Conrad

Robert Conrad (born March 1, 1935) is an American actor and director of film and television. He is primarily known for the 1965-1969 CBS television series The Wild Wild West, in which he played the sophisticated Secret Service agent James West.


Early life

Conrad was born as Conrad Robert Falk in Chicago, Illinois. During his early career one of Conrad's best friends was actor Nick Adams, who by many accounts helped him get work in Hollywood.


Before The Wild Wild West, Conrad played Tom Lopaka in ABC's Hawaiian Eye opposite Anthony Eisley and Connie Stevens. In the mid-1970s he played World War II fighter ace Pappy Boyington in Baa Baa Black Sheep on NBC. His half-brother, Larry Manetti , also appeared in this series, as well as the CBS series Magnum, P.I.. In the late 1970s, Conrad served as the captain of the NBC team for six editions of Battle of the Network Stars. He also played a modern day variation of James West in the short-lived secret agent series A Man Called Sloane in 1979, about the same time he reprised the role of West in a pair of made-for-TV films. He also starred in the 1978 TV miniseries Centennial on NBC.

Conrad was widely identified in the late 1970s for his television commercials for Eveready batteries, particularly his challenge to the viewer to "knock the battery off my shoulder". The commercial was frequently parodied on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show and The Carol Burnett Show. In 1988, Conrad starred in a short-lived TV series called High Mountain Rangers with two of his sons. He also starred in that show's one season spin-off Jesse Hawkes. In 1992, Conrad played the role of the sheriff in Richard Marx's Hazard video.

Conrad took over hosting The History Channel's Weapons At War (later Tech Force) in 2000 following George C. Scott's 1999 death. In 2006, Conrad recorded audio introductions for every episode of the first season of The Wild Wild West for its North American DVD release on June 6. The DVD set also included one of Conrad's Eveready battery commercials; in his introduction, Conrad stated that he was flattered to be parodied by Carson.

He was inducted into the Stuntman's Hall of Fame for his work on The Wild, Wild West series.

Personal life

Conrad is the father of eight children by two marriages. He lived in Bear Valley, California in the High Sierras until 2006, and now lives in Southern California with his wife, LaVelda Fann (originally from Gadsden, Alabama) and their children.

Conrad has been out of the public eye since 2003, when he was involved in a devastating car accident. Conrad was driving his Jaguar while drunk on Highway 4 in the California Sierra foothills near his Calaveras County home, when he crossed over the center median and slammed head-on into a Subaru being driven by 26-year-old Kevin Burnett. Both men suffered serious injuries. Conrad was convicted of drunk driving (his blood-alcohol level was 0.22 percent, nearly three times the legal limit) and was sentenced to six months of house arrest, five years probation and alcohol counseling, and is banned from bars. He also lost his driver's license for one year. Friends credit his problems, as well as his tough-guy persona, to his having a "Napolean complex" because of his small size, and to help erase childhood memories of being called "squirt" at school.

According to the National Enquirer, his wife LaVelda was arrested on September 11, 2008 for felony possession of a controlled substance, being under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was turned in by her children.


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