Happy birthday, Robert Conrad

March 1 is the birthday of actor Conrad Robert Falk (or Konrad Robert Falkowski, according to some sources). So we’ll wish a happy 82nd (at least according to his IMDB.COM profile) or a happy 76th (see information from a reader below) to the man better known as Robert Conrad.

Conrad has had a long acting career. But for many readers of this blog, he’s best known for playing ace U.S. Secret Service man James T. West in The Wild, Wild West. The 1965-69 show was a combination of spies and cowboys. CBS commissioned the show to cash in on the mid-1960s James Bond craze but it established its own flavor, and featured stories even more fantastic (albeit on a television budget) than the 007 films in movie theaters are the time.

A friend of ours once said Conrad had an acting range of “oak to pine.” We think that’s harsh. Regardless, Conrad had something that clicked with audiences. One thing that Conrad had was the ability to do many of his own stunts and action sequences, giving his character a believeability despite the fanciful tales. When James West fought a roomful of thugs, there was no mistaking that the show’s star was fully participating.

Here’s an excerpt from the first-season episode, The Night of the Burning Diamond:

Conrad’s James West also sometimes lost his shirt:

Of course, Conrad wasn’t exactly new at this sort of thing. Here’s the main titles of Hawaiian Eye, a show that was on Conrad’s resume at the time he was cast as James West.

Conrad’s co-star in Hawaiian Eye, Anthony Eisley, would show up in an episode of The Wild, Wild West (The Night of the Eccentrics) as a villain assisting Count Manzeppi (Victor Buono). Here’s a look:

Happy birthday, Mr. C.