Robert Conrad

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-hour Archive interview, Robert Conrad describes his early years as an athlete, singer, and actor in Chicago, before he set out to look for professional acting work in Hollywood. He talks about his early auditions, learning to do his own stunts, and being signed as a contract player by William T. Orr for Warner Bros. Television. He tells of landing a role as a series regular on Hawaiian Eye and describes the premise of the series. He then details the series with which he is most closely associated, The Wild Wild West, on which he played the lead, "James T. West." Conrad recalls performing his own stunts for the show, discusses working with his co-star Ross Martin, and notes the series' cancellation due to political pressure about violence on television. Conrad then speaks of his lead role as Gregory "Pappy" Boyington in the series Baa, Baa Black Sheep (later titled Black Sheep Squadron) and his association with the real-life World War II hero he portrayed. He also recounts his work on the miniseries Centennial, his participation as NBC team captain on Battle of the Network Stars specials, and his Eveready battery commercials, which featured him placing a battery on his shoulder and looking into camera demanding, "I dare you to knock this off." He speaks of his career as a battery pitchman, and also talks of directing for television. Gary J. Rutkowski conducted the interview on August 30, 2006 in Thousand Oaks, CA.

"They only see what I want them to see, what I'm selling -- an image."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Robert Conrad on his character, "James T. West," on The Wild, Wild West
Robert Conrad on the violence on The Wild, Wild West
Robert Conrad on his chemistry with The Wild, Wild West co-star Ross Martin
Robert Conrad on leaving and returning to Hawaiian Eye in a contract dispute with the studio
Robert Conrad on his Eveready Battery commercial 
Robert Conrad on losing to Gabe Kaplan on Battle of the Network Stars
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early singing career; on training as an actor and his first professional acting job; on doing publicity for "Giant"; on moving to Hollywood
On the first time he saw television; on getting his first agent; on learning to do stunts; on early jobs in television; on being under contract at Warner Bros.
On auditioning for and shooting Hawaiian Eye; on his increasing popularity

Chapter 2

On the premise of Hawaiian Eye; on studio head William T. Orr; on auditioning for The Wild, Wild West; on his character and stunts on The Wild, Wild West
On director Irving J. Moore and original producer Fred Freiberger; on guest stars and critical reaction to The Wild, Wild West

Chapter 3

On The Wild, Wild West props and opening sequence; on the cancellation and legacy of The Wild, Wild West
On Mission: Impossible; on being cast on Baa-Baa Black Sheep; on what he expects as a director
On Baa-Baa Black Sheep creator Stephen J. Cannell; on the premise and cancellation of Baa-Baa Black Sheep; on his role in Centennial  

Chapter 4

On competing on Battle of The Network Stars; on his Eveready battery commercial; on hosting Saturday Night Live
On his short-lived series Search and Rescue and High Mountain Rangers; on playing himself on Just Shoot Me; on his image
On his proudest career achievement and regrets; on advice to aspiring actors; on his legacy
Shows

Baa-Baa Black Sheep

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Robert Conrad on playing "Greg 'Pappy' Boyington" on Baa-Baa Black Sheep
Robert Conrad on directing Baa-Baa Black Sheep
Robert Conrad on the premise and cancellation of Baa-Baa Black Sheep

Battle of the Network Stars

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Robert Conrad on competing on Battle of the Network Stars

Centennial

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Robert Conrad on his character "Pasquinel" on Centennial

Hawaiian Eye

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Robert Conrad on auditioning for and shooting Hawaiian Eye
Robert Conrad on the basic premise of Hawaiian Eye

Just Shoot Me!

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Robert Conrad on playing himself on Just Shoot Me

Saturday Night Live

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Robert Conrad on hosting Saturday Night Live

Wild Wild West, The

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Robert Conrad on auditioning for The Wild, Wild West
Robert Conrad on his character "James T. West" on The Wild, Wild West
Robert Conrad on his chemistry with The Wild, Wild West co-star Ross Martin
Robert Conrad on The Wild, Wild West stunts
Robert Conrad on The Wild, Wild West director Irving J. Moore
Robert Conrad on The Wild, Wild West guest stars
Robert Conrad on critical reaction to The Wild, Wild West
Robert Conrad on The Wild, Wild West props 
Robert Conrad on The Wild, Wild West opening titles
Robert Conrad on The Wild, Wild West violence
Robert Conrad on the cancellation of The Wild, Wild West
Robert Conrad on the legacy of The Wild, Wild West
Robert Conrad on returning to The Wild, Wild West in made-for-television movies
Topics

Advice

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Robert Conrad on advice to aspiring actors

Characters & Catchphrases

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Robert Conrad on his character "James T. West" on The Wild, Wild West
Robert Conrad on the legacy of his The Wild, Wild West character, "James T. West"

Memorable Moments on Television

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Robert Conrad on his Eveready Battery commercial

Pop Culture

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Robert Conrad on his character, "James T. West," on The Wild, Wild West
Robert Conrad on the legacy of his The Wild, Wild West character, "James T. West"
Robert Conrad on his Eveready Battery commercial

Sex & Violence

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Robert Conrad on the violence on The Wild, Wild West

Studio and Network Management

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Robert Conrad on being under contract at Warner Bros. Television

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

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Robert Conrad on the first time he saw television

Television Industry

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Robert Conrad on being under contract at Warner Bros. Television
Robert Conrad on the violence on The Wild, Wild West

We Laughed

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Robert Conrad on his Eveready Battery commercial
Professions

Actor

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Robert Conrad on his approach to acting and early influences
Robert Conrad on learning to do his own stunts
Robert Conrad on advice to aspiring actors

Directors

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Robert Conrad on directing for television and movies

Performers

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Robert Conrad on his approach to acting and early influences
Robert Conrad on learning to do his own stunts
Robert Conrad on advice to aspiring actors
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Robert Conrad on auditioning for and shooting Hawaiian Eye
Robert Conrad on the basic premise of Hawaiian Eye
Robert Conrad on playing "Greg 'Pappy' Boyington" on Baa-Baa Black Sheep

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Robert Conrad on auditioning for and shooting Hawaiian Eye

Drama Series

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Robert Conrad on the basic premise of Hawaiian Eye
Robert Conrad on playing "Greg 'Pappy' Boyington" on Baa-Baa Black Sheep

Reality TV

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Robert Conrad on competing on Battle of the Network Stars

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Robert Conrad on his character "Pasquinel" on Centennial

Western Series

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Robert Conrad on auditioning for The Wild, Wild West
Robert Conrad on his character "James T. West" on The Wild, Wild West
Robert Conrad on The Wild, Wild West stunts
Robert Conrad on the violence on The Wild, Wild West
Robert Conrad on the legacy of The Wild, Wild West
People

Stephen J. Cannell

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Robert Conrad on working with writer/show creator Stephen J. Cannell

Fred Freiberger

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Robert Conrad on The Wild, Wild West producer Fred Freiberger

Gabe Kaplan

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Robert Conrad on losing to Gabe Kaplan on Battle of the Network Stars

Ross Martin

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Robert Conrad on his chemistry with The Wild, Wild West co-star Ross Martin

Irving J. Moore

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Robert Conrad on The Wild, Wild West director Irving J. Moore 

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