As most TVWriter™ visitors probably know, The Wild Wild West‘s main character, James West, AKA actor Robert Conrad, died last weekend.
TVWriter™’s good buddy, Contributing Editor Herbie J Pilato, reminded us the other day that Conrad’s last TV appearance was on Herbie’s fascinating classic TV talk show, Then Again with Herbie J Pilato.
Here’s an exclusive report on the appearance, courtesy of Herbie J.
by Herbie J Pilato
“I’m not debonair. I’m not suave. I did wear tight pants, though, because I found out that it worked.” — Robert Conrad
Robert Conrad — you were one tough nut to crack.
But I loved having you on my show, “Then Again with Herbie J Pilato,” which ultimately became your final on-screen appearance.
What an honor — and what a blast it really was.
You joked — and you razed me, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Rest well, tough guy.
Whether in fiction or in reality, no male TV character of the 1950s, ’60s, and ‘70s came any tougher than Robert Conrad as James West on the unique sci-fi western, The Wild Wild West, which originally aired on CBS from 1965 to 1969.
The fact that Conrad portrayed a character named West on a series that was set in the Old West served both as a metaphor and as a wink to the program’s loyal fan-base who came to love the show’s frequent use of self-deprecating humor and style. As Conrad once said about the series, which displayed ingenious, whimsical stories, sets, props, and performances, “It was just so elaborate and so luxurious. We had every gadget imaginable…[like] the little gun that [popped] out of [West’s] shoe.”
The show arrived on TV just as the western genre was giving way to the spy game….
Writer/producer Herbie J Pilato is the host ofclassic TV talk show THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, now streaming on Amazon Prime, Founder and Executive Director of The Classic TV Preservation Society, and author of several classic TV companion books. He has been part of TVWriter™ for 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J HERE. This article first appeared in Medium.