William Conrad Biography
Died At Age: 73
Sun Sign: Libra
Also Known As: John William Cann Jr.
Born in: Louisville, Kentucky
Famous as: Actor, Director
Spouse/Ex-: June Nelson (m. 1943–1957), Lewis Tipton Stringer Huntley (m. 1980–1994), Susan Randall Conrad (m. 1957–1979)
father: John William Cann
mother: Ida Mae Upchurch Cann
place of death: North Hollywood, California
Cause of Death: Heart Failure
U.S. State: Kentucky
City: Louisville, Kentucky
William Conrad was an actor and filmmaker from America. He was also a fighter pilot, who served during the World War II. Originally from Kentucky, Conrad relocated to Hollywood following the end of his military service and started working as an actor. He made his screen debut in the 1945 comedy film ‘Pillow to Post’. Over the course of his five-decade-long career, he had worked in numerous radio shows, films, and television projects. As a radio writer and actor, he voiced the character Marshall Matt Dillon in ‘Gunsmoke’. He also served as the narrator in TV shows like ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’ and ‘The Fugitive’. In the 1950s, he was not getting as many offers to appear in films as he once used to, so he decided to do more television roles. Conrad’s most memorable performance was as the titular character in the detective series ‘Cannon’. He also portrayed detective Nero Wolfe in ‘Nero Wolfe’ and prosecutor Jason Lochinvar "J.L." "Fatman" McCabe in the legal-drama ‘Jake and the Fatman’. In 1997, about three years after his death, Conrad was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
- Born John William Cann Jr. (also known as John William Conrad) on September 27, 1920, in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Conrad is the son of John William Cann and Ida Mae Upchurch Cann. Being the child of movie theatre owners, Conrad’s affinity for cinema can be traced back to his childhood.
- When he was a high school student, his family relocated to Southern California. After graduating high school, he enrolled at Fullerton College, in Orange County, California, from where he earned his degree in drama and literature. He subsequently embarked on his professional life as an announcer, writer, and director for Los Angeles radio station KMPC.
- When the World War II broke out, he enlisted as a fighter pilot in the US military. He served from 1943 to 1945, and by the time he was discharged from the US Army Air Forces, he had risen through the ranks to become a captain. He was also a producer-director of the Armed Forces Radio Service.
- According to William Conrad, he had voiced over 7,500 characters in his radio career. When he was 22 years old, he created and performed in KMPC’s ‘The Hermit’s Cave’, a series that ran from 1940 to 1944.
- Some of the other shows he was associated with are 'Escape' (1947–54), ‘The Adventures of Sam Spade’ (1949–50), ‘Gunsmoke’ (1952–61), ‘The CBS Radio Workshop’ (1956-57), and ‘And '1489 Words' (1957).
- After making his film debut in ‘Pillow to Post’ in 1945, Conrad appeared in films like ‘The Killers’ (1946), ‘Body and Soul’ (1947), ‘Sorry, Wrong Number’ (1948), ‘Joan of Arc’ (1948), and ‘The Naked Jungle’ (1954).
- Due to his large girth and gravelly, resonating voice, Conrad was often cast in menacing roles. His final involvement with cinema was in the 1991 action adventure ‘Hudson Hawk’, in which he served as the narrator.
- Conrad directed three films in total, all of which were released in 1965. They were ‘Two on a Guillotine’, ‘My Blood Runs Cold’, and ‘Brainstorm’. Besides his own films, Conrad produced a number of other people’s projects, including Robert Gist’s ‘See You in Hell, Darling’ (1966), Allen H. Miner’s ‘Chubasco’ (1968), and Sheldon Reynolds’ ‘Assignment to Kill’ (1968).
- On television, Conrad served as the narrator on a number of shows, including the syndicated drama series ‘This Man Dawson’ (1959-60), ABC’s (later NBC) animated series ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’ (1959-64), ‘The Fugitive’ (1963-67), and NBC’s action-adventure series ‘Manimal’ (1983).
- In 1981, he starred as the eponymous character in NBC’s mystery-drama series ‘Nero Wolfe’. Created by the detective fiction writer Rex Stout, Wolfe is an oversized, eccentric, genius, armchair detective who does not leave his luxurious home to solve crimes but uses his handsome and charming assistant Archie Goodwin to do all the legwork.
- Conrad’s final work as an actor was the in CBS crime-drama ‘Jake and the Fatman’ (1987-92), in which he portrayed district attorney Jason Lochinvar 'Fatman' McCabe opposite Joe Penny’s detective Jake Styles.
- William Conrad was cast as private detective Frank Cannon in ‘Cannon’, a detective television series that aired on CBS between September 14, 1971, and March 3, 1976. Developed by Edward Hume, the series was a critical and commercial hit and has found a permanent place in the US pop culture.
- William Conrad had been married three times in his life. He married his first wife, June Nelson, on April 12, 1943, on the very day he received his military commission, at Luke Field. They divorced in 1957.
- His second wife was Susan Randall Conrad, whom he married in 1957. They were together until her death on April 13, 1979. They had a son, Christopher, who is Conrad’s only child.
- On May 1, 1980, he exchanged wedding vows with Lewis Tipton Stringer, the widow of newscaster Chet Huntley.
- On February 11, 1994, Conrad passed away due to congestive heart failure in Los Angeles. He is interred at the Hollywood Hills Cemetery, California.
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