Conrad in 1952, when he created the role of Matt Dillon on the radio version of Gunsmoke
|Born||John William Cann Jr.
September 27, 1920
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
|Died||February 11, 1994
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, director, producer, voice actor|
|Spouse(s)||June Nelson (1943–1957) 1 child
Susan Randall (1957-1979)
Tippy Stringer Huntley (1980–1994 - his death)
William Conrad (born John William Cann Jr.;1 September 27, 1920 – February 11, 1994) was an American actor, producer and director whose career spanned five decades in radio, film and television.
A radio writer and actor, he moved to Hollywood, California, after his World War II service and played a series of character roles in films beginning with the quintessential film noir, The Killers (1946). He created the role of Marshall Matt Dillon for the popular radio series Gunsmoke (1952–1961), and narrated the television adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (1959–1964) and The Fugitive (1963–1967).
Finding fewer on-screen roles in the 1950s, he changed from actor to producer-director with television work and a series of Warner Bros. films in the 1960s. Conrad found stardom as a detective in the TV series Cannon (1971–1976) and Nero Wolfe (1981), and as a district attorney in the legal drama Jake and the Fatman (1987–1992).
Conrad was the son of a theater owner who moved his family to California when William was a boy. Excelling at drama and literature at school, he began his career as an announcer, writer, and director for Los Angeles radio station KMPC in the late 1930s. Conrad served as a fighter pilot in World War II. On the day he was commissioned in 1943 at Luke Field, he married June Nelson.2 He left the United States Army Air Corps with the rank of captain and as a producer-director of the Armed Forces Radio Service.3
Conrad's deep, resonant voice led to a number of roles in radio, most prominently Marshal Matt Dillon on Western-genre program Gunsmoke. The producers originally rejected him for the part due to his ubiquitous presence on so many radio dramas and the familiarity of his voice. But his impressive audition could not be dismissed, and he became the obvious choice for the role. Conrad voiced Dillon for the show's nine-year run. In addition, he wrote the June 1953 episode "Sundown."4 When Gunsmoke was adapted for television in 1955, executives at CBS did not cast Conrad or his radio costars, despite a campaign to get them to change their minds.5 (He was under contract at the time to CBS radio.) He could be heard inviting listeners to “get away from it all” on Escape His other credits included Suspense, The Damon Runyon Theater, Lux Radio Theater, Nightbeat, and Fibber McGee and Molly. In “The Wax Works”, a 1956 episode of Suspense, Conrad performed every part. He directed and narrated the 1957 CBS Radio Workshop episode "Epitaphs", an adaptation of Edgar Lee Masters's poetry volume Spoon River Anthology. Because of his CBS contract, he sometimes appeared on shows on other networks under the pseudonym "Julius Krelboyne".
Among Conrad's various film roles, where he was usually cast as threatening figures, perhaps his most notable role was his first credited one, as one of the gunmen sent to eliminate Burt Lancaster in The Killers (1946). Conrad also appeared in Body and Soul (1947), Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), Joan of Arc (1948) and The Naked Jungle (1954).
Conrad moved to the production segment of the film business in the 1960s, producing and directing for Warner Bros. film studio. His most notable film was Brainstorm (1965), a latter-day film noir that has come to be regarded as "a minor masterpiece of the 1960s"6 and "the final, essential entry in that long line of films noirs that begins at the end of the Second World War."7 Conrad was the executive producer of Countdown (1968), a science-fiction thriller starring James Caan and Robert Duvall that was the major studio feature début of director Robert Altman.
Conrad received one of the two original lead-metal falcon statues used in the classic The Maltese Falcon film (1941), as a token of appreciation from Jack Warner, the head of Warner Bros. The falcon sat on a bookshelf in Conrad's house from the 1960s. Standing 11.5 in.(29.2 cm) high and weighing 45 lbs. (20.4 kg), the figurine had been slashed during the making of the film by Sydney Greenstreet's character Kasper Gutman, leaving deep cuts in its bronze patina. After Conrad's death the statue was consigned by his widow Tippy Conrad to Christie's, which estimated it would bring $30,000 to $50,000 at auction. In December 1994, Christie's sold the falcon for $398,500.8
Conrad moved to television in the 1960s.
He narrated the animated Rocky and Bullwinkle series from 1959 to 1964 (as "Bill Conrad"). He returned to voice work as the narrator of This Man Dawson, a 33-episode syndicated crime drama starring Keith Andes in the 1959–1960 television season and then became the familiar voice narrating The Fugitive, starring David Janssen, on ABC television from 1963–67.
Conrad intoned a rhyming narration heard over the credits of the 1970 John Wayne film Western Chisum. His voice is heard in the Clio Award-winning 1971 public-service announcement about pollution featuring Iron Eyes Cody, created for Earth Day by Keep America Beautiful and the Ad Council.9 From 1973 to 1978, Conrad narrated TV nature program The Wild, Wild World of Animals and he later narrated The Making of Star Wars (1977), the 1978 World Series U.S.-baseball highlight film, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979). He performed the role of Denethor in the 1980 animated TV version of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Return of the King.
Other voice work included narration for Knight Rider and The Highwayman. Late in life with a voice no longer as strong as the one familiar to his fans,citation needed he narrated the opening and closing scenes of 1991 Bruce Willis feature film Hudson Hawk.
He guest starred in NBC's science-fiction series The Man and the Challenge. In 1962, Conrad starred in an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and guest starred in episodes of ABC's crime drama Target: The Corruptors!.
The 1970s also saw him starring in the first of three television detective series which would bring him an added measure of renown, Cannon, which was broadcast on CBS from 1971–76. While starring in the show he weighed a hefty 230 pounds (104 kg), and grew to a portly 260 pounds (118 kg) or more, prompting Conrad to joke, "People who were on Weight Watchers were banned from watching the show."citation needed
He and Sam Peckinpah directed episodes of NBC's Klondike in the 1960–1961 season. Conrad's credits as a director include episodes of The Rifleman, Bat Masterson, Route 66, Have Gun – Will Travel, and 77 Sunset Strip, as well as ABC's crime drama Target: The Corruptors!.
In 1965, Conrad directed and produced two theatrical films: Two on a Guillotine, and Brainstorm, starring Jeffrey Hunter and Anne Francis. Conrad had previously directed Jeffrey Hunter in the pilot episode of what was to be a Warner Bros. TV series, Temple Houston.
Conrad had one son, Christopher, by his first wife, June Nelson, who died in 1977 after over 30 years of marriage. In 1980, Conrad married Tipton "Tippy" Stringer (1930–2010), a TV pioneer and the widow of NBC newscaster Chet Huntley.10
|1945||Pillow to Post||uncredited|
|1947||Body and Soul||Quinn|
|1948||Arch of Triumph||Policeman at Accident||uncredited|
|1948||To the Victor||Farnsworth|
|1948||Four Faces West||Sheriff Egan|
|1948||Sorry, Wrong Number||Morano|
|1948||Joan of Arc||Guillaume Erard|
|1949||Any Number Can Play||Frank Sistina|
|1949||Tension||Lt. Edgar Gonsales|
|1949||East Side, West Side||Lt. Jacobi|
|1950||Escape (TV series)||Narrator|
|1950||One Way Street||Ollie|
|1950||The Milkman||Mike Morrel|
|1951||The Sword of Monte Cristo||Major Nicolet|
|1951||The Racket||Detective Sergeant Turck|
|1953||Cry of the Hunted||Goodwin|
|1953||The Desert Song||Lachmed|
|1954||The Naked Jungle||Commissioner|
|1954||The Bob Mathias Story||Narrator||uncredited|
|1955||5 Against the House||Eric Berg|
|1957||The Ride Back||Sheriff Chris Hamish|
|1958||The Rough Riders (TV series)||Wade Hacker||"The Governor"|
|1958–1961||Bat Masterson (TV series)||Clark Benson
|"Stampede at Tent City"
"Terror on the Trinity"
|1959–1960||This Man Dawson (TV series)||Narrator|
|1959–1960||Rocky and His Friends (TV series)||Narrator|
|1961||The Aquanauts (TV series)||Corey||"Killers in Paradise"|
|1961–1964||The Bullwinkle Show (TV series)||Narrator|
|1962||Target: The Corruptors! (TV series)||Dan||"Yankee Dollar"|
|1962||Have Gun—Will Travel (TV series)||Moses Kadish
|"The Man Who Struck Moonshine"
|1962||GE True (TV series)||Dr. James Fallon||"Circle of Death"|
|1963||The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (TV series)||Sgt. Cresse||"The Thirty-First of February"|
|1963–1967||The Fugitive (TV series)||Narrator||uncredited|
|1965||Two on a Guillotine||The Fat Man in the Hall of Mirrors||uncredited|
|1965||My Blood Runs Cold||Helicopter Pilot (voice)||uncredited|
|1965||Hoppity Hooper (TV series)||Narrator||uncredited|
|1965||F Troop||Narrator||"Scourge of the West", uncredited|
|1965||Battle of the Bulge||Narrator||uncredited|
|1966||Chamber of Horrors||Narrator||uncredited|
|1968||Countdown||TV Newscaster (voice)||uncredited|
|1969||The Dudley Do-Right Show (TV series)||Narrator|
|1969||The Name of the Game (TV series)||Arnold Wexler||"The Power"|
|1970||It Takes a Thief (TV series)||Strategy Room Announcer (voice)||"Situation Red"; uncredited|
|1970||The Brotherhood of the Bell (TV movie)||Bart Harris|
|1970||The High Chaparral (TV series)||China Pierce||"Spokes"|
|1970||Men at Law (TV series)||Kornedi||"Survivors Will Be Prosecuted"|
|1970||D. A.: Conspiracy to Kill (TV movie)||Chief Vincent Kovac|
|1971||O'Hara, U. S. Treasury (TV movie)||Keegan|
|1971–1976||Cannon (TV series)||Frank Cannon|
|1973||Gunsmoke (TV series)||Narrator||"Women for Sale"|
|1973–1975||Barnaby Jones (TV series)||Frank Cannon||"Requiem for a Son"
"The Deadly Conspiracy: Part 2"
|1973–1976||Wild, Wild World of Animals (TV series)||Narrator|
|1974||The FBI Story: The FBI Versus Alvin Karpis,
Public Enemy Number One (TV movie)
|1975||Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan
|1976||The Macahans (TV movie)||Narrator|
|1977||The City (TV movie)||Narrator|
|1977||The Force of Evil (TV movie)||Narrator|
|1977||Moonshine County Express||Jack Starkey|
|1977||The Making of Star Wars||Narrator|
|1977||Tales of the Unexpected (TV series)||Narrator|
|1977–1978||How the West Was Won (TV series)||Narrator||uncredited|
|1978||Night Cries (TV movie)||Dr. Whelan|
|1978||Keefer (TV movie)||Keefer|
|1979||Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (TV movie)||Narrator||uncredited|
|1979||The Rebels (TV movie)||Narrator|
|1979–1981||Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (TV series)||Narrator|
|1980||Battles: The Murder That Wouldn't Die (TV movie)||William Battles|
|1980||The Return of the King (TV movie)||Lord Denethor (voice)|
|1980||Turnover Smith (TV movie)||Thaddeus Smith|
|1980||The Return of Frank Cannon (TV movie)||Frank Cannon|
|1980||The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour (TV series)||The Lone Ranger (voice)||as J. Darnoc|
|1981||Nero Wolfe (TV series)||Nero Wolfe|
|1981||Side Show (TV movie)||Ring Announcer (voice)|
|1982||The Cremation of Sam McGee:
A Poem by Robert W. Service
|1982||Police Squad! (TV series)||Stabbed Man||"Testimony of Evil (Dead Men Don't Laugh)"|
|1982||Shocktrauma (TV movie)||Dr. R. Adams Cowley|
|1983||The Mikado (TV movie)||The Mikado|
|1983||Trauma Center (TV series)||Narrator|
|1983||Manimal (TV series)||Narrator|
|1984||Murder, She Wrote (TV series)||Major Anatole Karzof||"Death Takes a Curtain Call"|
|1985||In Like Flynn (TV movie)||Sergeant Dominic|
|1986||Hotel (TV series)||Art Patterson||"Shadows of a Doubt"|
|1986||Killing Cars||Mr. Mahoney|
|1986||Vengeance: The Story of Tony Cimo (TV movie)||Jim Dunn|
|1986||Matlock (TV series)||D. A. James L. McShane||"The Don"|
|1987||The Highwayman (TV movie)||Narrator||uncredited|
|1987||The Highwayman (TV series)||Narrator||uncredited|
|1987–1992||Jake and the Fatman (TV series)||Jason Lochinvar "Fatman" McCabe|
|1993||Bill Nye, the Science Guy (TV series)||"Garbage"|
|1955||Highway Patrol (TV series)||"The Trap"|
|1958||Target (TV series)||"The Unknown"|
|1959||Mackenzie's Raiders (TV series)||"The Pen and the Sword"|
|1959||Bold Venture (TV series)||"Go Fight Sidney Hall"
"Dial M for Mother"
"Oh Kaplan, My Kaplan"
"The Last Hungry Man"
"One of Our Friedkins Is Missing … Fine"
"The Glittering Skull of Irving Tezcula"
|1959||The Rifleman (TV series)||"Three Legged Terror"|
|1959||The Rough Riders (TV series)||"Deadfall"|
|1959–1960||This Man Dawson (TV series)|
|1959–1960||Tombstone Territory (TV series)||"Marked for Murder"
"The Black Diamond"
|1959–1961||Bat Masterson (TV series)||"Wanted: Dead"
"The Reluctant Witness"
"The Good and the Bad"
"Ledger of Guilt"
|1960||Lock-Up (TV series)||"Poker Club"
"So Shall Ye Reap"
|1960||Men into Space (TV series)||"Mission to Mars"
|1960||Klondike (TV series)||"Klondike Fever"
"Saints and Stickups"
|1960–1961||The Case of the Dangerous Robin (TV series)||"The Nightmare"
|1961||The Aquanauts (TV series)||"The Stakeout Adventure"|
|1961||Route 66 (TV series)||"First Class Mouliak"|
|1961||Naked City (TV series)||"A Kettle of Precious Fish"
"The Day the Island Almost Sank"
|1961–1962||Target: The Corruptors! (TV series)||"Prison Empire"
"Play It Blue"
"Babes in Wall Street"
"My Native Land"
"A Man's Castle"
"Journey Into Mourning"
"A Book of Faces"
|1962||Saints and Sinners (TV series)||"A Night of Horns and Bells"|
|1962–1963||Have Gun–Will Travel (TV series)||"One, Two, Three"
"Don't Shoot the Piano Player"
"A Miracle for St. Francis"
"The Black Bull"
|1962–1963||GE True (TV series)||"Harris vs. Castro"
"The Handmade Private"
"The Last Day"
"Man with a Suitcase"
"Mile-Long Shot to Kill"
"The Wrong Nickel"
"Defendant Clarence Darrow"
"The Black-Robed Ghost"
"Pattern for Espionage"
"The Tenth Mona Lisa"
|1963||77 Sunset Strip (TV series)||six episodes|
|1963||The Man from Galveston|
|1963–1964||Temple Houston (TV series)||"Billy Hart"
"Thy Name Is Woman"
"A Slight Case of Larceny"
"The Gun That Swept the West"
"The Town That Trespassed"
|1963–1971||Gunsmoke (TV series)||"Panacea Sykes"
|1965||Two on a Guillotine|
|1965||My Blood Runs Cold|
|1981||Side Show (TV movie)|
|1957||The Way Back|
|1959–1960||This Man Dawson (TV series)|
|1963||77 Sunset Strip (TV series)||"88 Bars"|
|1965||Two on a Guillotine|
|1965||My Blood Runs Cold|
|1966||An American Dream|
|1967||First to Fight|
|1967||A Covenant with Death|
|1967||The Cool Ones||executive producer|
|1968||Assignment to Kill||executive producer|
|1980||Turnover Smith (TV movie)||executive producer|
- "California Death Records" 18 October 2010
- Cedar Rapids Tribune, 13 January 1955
- Hayward, Anthony (February 14, 1994). "Obituary: William Conrad". The Independent (London).
- Silver, Alain, and Elizabeth Ward , eds., Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style, Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press, 1979, p. 41.
- Christopher, Nicholas, Somewhere in the Night: Film Noir and the American City. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997 (revised ed., Emeryville, California: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2006, p. 231).
- Berry, Heidi L., "Lights, Camera, Auction! Movie Memorabilia Is This Month's Star, From Mae West's Bed to a Maltese Falcon," The Washington Post, December 1, 1994. "Maltese Falcon, Other Movie Memorabilia, Sold at Auction," Associated Press, December 6, 1994. The purchaser was Ronald Winston, president of Harry Winston, Inc. jewelers.
- "Pollution: Keep America Beautiful - Iron Eyes Cody". Ad Council, The Classics. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
- "General Forum on Genealogy". genforum.genealogy.com. Retrieved December 26, 2008. "Tippy Stringer Conrad, TV weather girl in 1950s", The Boston Globe, October 27, 2010. "Tipton ‘Tippy' Stringer Huntley Conrad", Lone Peak Lookout (Big Sky, Montana), October 14, 2010
- Bourdain, G. S., "William Conrad, 73, TV Actor In 'Fatman' and 'Cannon' Series". The New York Times, February 13, 1994
- "William Conrad at the Radio Hall of Fame".
- William Conrad at the Internet Movie Database
- William Conrad at the TCM Movie Database
- William Conrad at the National Radio Hall of Fame
- William Conrad at AllRovi
- William Conrad at Find a Grave
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