Actor Robert Conrad, known for The Wild Wild West and Jingle All The Way, is dead at the age of 84. Born March 1, 1935, Conrad grew up in Chicago, Illinois, where he pursued a singing career by appearing in local nightclubs. His first notable acting role was on Hawaiian Eye in 1959, a year after Conrad had moved to Los Angeles. Conrad played a half-Hawaiian private detective, who worked with his partner at a private security firm in Honolulu. Despite the exotic setting, the series shot all four of its seasons entirely in Hollywood, allowing Conrad to guest star on the military series The Gallant Men. After Hawaiian Eye, Conrad starred in Palm Springs Weekend in 1963 and released two albums with Mexican record label Orfeon.

One of his most notable roles was as Secret Service agent James T. West in The Wild Wild West, which ran from 1965 to 1969. Conrad’s West solved crimes and protected President Ulysses Grant with his partner Artemus Gordon in a western series described by its creator as “James Bond on horseback.” The popular series aired on CBS, and Conrad did most of his own stunts and fight scenes. Next, Conrad starred in several other television shows, including The D.A., and Baa Baa Black Sheep (later syndicated as Black Sheep Squadron). In addition to playing World War II fighter ace Pappy Boyington on the series, Conrad also directed three episodes and won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Male Actor.

Conard passed away Saturday at home in Malibu, California after suffering heart failure, Jeff Ballard, a family spokesperson, confirmed to TMZ. “He lived a wonderfully long life, and while the family is saddened by his passing, he will live forever in their hearts,” Ballard told the outlet. A private service is scheduled for March 1, which would have been Conrad’s 85th birthday, and People reports, “In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Wounded Warrior Project and The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.”

Conrad’s career stretched beyond his television roles into films as well. The actor appeared in over 15 movies from 1958 to 2002, including The Bandits (which he also wrote and directed), Samurai Cowboy, Jingle All The Way, and his final film, Dead Above Ground, a teen slasher written by The Greatest American Hero creator Stephen J. Cannell. Conrad was also a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in Broadcasting and is one of the few actors to be inducted into the Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame.

Conrad is survived by 18 grandchildren and eight children, whom he shares with his ex-wives Joan Kenlay and La Velda Fann. Conrad’s life-long career is a testament to his hard work and perseverance. “When you come in you’re committed to the role,” he told the Television Academy in an interview. “If an actor is committed and dedicated, he’s going to survive.”  Conrad was a professional actor in every sense of the term, and he seemed to be pleased with his career choices. When asked if he had any afterthoughts about his career in 2008, he told SFGate, “If I had to do it all over again, I’d do it the same way.”

Rest in Peace Robert Conrad: March 1, 1935 - February 8, 2020

Source: TMZ, SFGate, People, Television Academy