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William Conrad Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (6)

Overview (5)

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Died in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart failure)
Birth NameJohn William Cann
Nickname Bill
Height 5' 7½" (1.71 m)

Mini Bio (1)

William Conrad became a television star relatively late in his career. In fact, the former Army Air Corps World War II fighter pilot began his screen career playing heavies. He was Max, one of The Killers (1946) hired to finish off Burt Lancaster in his dingy lodgings. He was the corrupt state inspector Turck working for the syndicate in The Racket (1951). He was a mobster in Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), the murderous gunslinger Tallman in Johnny Concho (1956) and sleazy nightclub owner Louie Castro who claimed to be 60% legitimate in Cry Danger (1951).

When not essaying outright villainy Bill played characters like the tough fight promoter Quinn in Body and Soul (1947) or the doom-laden province commissioner in The Naked Jungle (1954). The portly, balding, crumple-faced, self-confessed gourmand had an ever-present weight problem (at one time 118 kg) which proved to be a natural obstacle to progressing to more substantial leading film roles. That, however, didn't hinder a very successful career in radio. In fact, Bill himself estimated that he had played in excess of 7,000 radio parts. Even if that was an exaggeration, his gravelly, resonant voice was certainly heard on countless broadcasts from "Buck Rogers" to "The Bullwinkle Show", from impersonating Marshall Matt Dillon on "Gunsmoke" (before James Arness got the part on screen) to narrating the adventures of Richard Kimball in the television program The Fugitive (1963). In one episode of the anthology series Suspense (1949) in 1956, he voiced each and every part.

Since his corpulence effectively precluded playing strapping characters like Matt Dillon, Bill began to concentrate on directing and producing by the early 1960's. This, ironically, included episodes of "Gunsmoke". In 1963 he contributed to saving 77 Sunset Strip (1958) for yet another season. Later in the decade he produced and directed several films for Warner Brothers, including the thriller Brainstorm (1965) with Jeffrey Hunter and Anne Francis. In 1971 he returned to acting and became the unlikely star of the Quinn Martin production Cannon (1971), for which he is chiefly remembered. Bill imbued the tough-talking, no-nonsense character of Frank Cannon with enough humanity and wit to make the series compelling but, despite the show's popularity, he made his views clear in a 1976 Times interview that he found himself poorly served by the scripts he had been given. A planned sequel, The Return of Frank Cannon (1980) failed to get beyond the movie-length pilot, but the actor's popularity resulted in another starring role in Jake and the Fatman (1987) as District Attorney McCabe, co-starring with Joe Penny) and a brief run as eccentric detective Nero Wolfe (1981). A self-effacing man with a good sense of humor and never afraid to speak his mind, Bill Conrad died of heart failure in February 1994. He was elected to the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame and (posthumously) to the Radio Hall of Fame in 1997.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (3)

Lewis Tipton Stringer (1 May 1980 - 11 February 1994) (his death)
Susan Randall Conrad (1957 - 13 April 1979) (her death) (1 child)
June Nelson (1943 - ?) (her death)

Trade Mark (1)

Gravelly, resonant voice

Trivia (6)

Inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1997.
Buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills in the Lincoln Terrace Plot # 4448. He is surrounded by his fellow TV detectives at this cemetery who are either in the same section or within very close proximity. They include Telly Savalas and George Savalas from Kojak (1973) and William Talman, Wesley Lau, and Ray Collins of Perry Mason (1957) fame and Dragnet (1951)'s Jack Webb.
There were several 11-1/2"-tall falcon props made for use in The Maltese Falcon (1941). Some were cast of plastic resin, some of lead. Only two 45-lb. lead falcons and two 5-lb., 5.4-oz resin falcons are verified to be in existence. One lead Falcon has been displayed for years at various venues. The second, which was marred at the end of the movie by Sydney Greenstreet, was a gift to Conrad by studio chief Jack L. Warner. It was auctioned in December 1994, nine months after Conrad's death, for $398,500 to Ronald Winston of Harry Winston, Inc. At that time it was the highest price ever paid for a movie prop. It was used to model a 10-lb. gold replica displayed at the 69th Academy Awards. The replica has Burmese ruby eyes, interchangeable claws (one set of gold, one set of coral) and holds a platinum chain in its beak with a 42.98 flawless diamond at the end. It's valued at over $8 million. The lead and resin falcons are valued in excess of $2 million - coincidentally the value placed on the "real" Maltese Falcon by Kasper Gutman, Greenstreet's character in the 1941 classic movie.
His third wife was the widow of newscaster Chet Huntley.
One of the true superstars of the "Golden Age of Radio", he appeared in more than 7,500 radio programs.
In World War II, he flew a P-39 under the Golden Gate Bridge twice.

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