Quiz 9 – William Conrad
November 29, 2013
If you've just checked our blog, we're playing a game on our Facebook “Media Heritage, Inc.” and “Big Broadcast” pages. If you'd like to play, “like” one or both of those Facebook pages and on Mondays, we'll post a photo of an old radio “second banana”…a secondary or character actor from the 1930s through '50s. You'll be instructed to email a guess as to the identity to our email and from the correct answers, we'll pick a winner for a prize each week on Wednesday night! Then check back here at the blog, later in the week, for the answer.
William Conrad was born William Cann in Lexington, KY in 1920, where his parents owned a movie theater. When he was still a boy, the family relocated to California where Robert majored in drama at Fullerton College near Los Angeles. His first radio job was as an announcer at KMPC. After service in WWII, Conrad became one of Hollywood's busiest character actors, appearing as both “good guys” and “bad guys” on such series as Man Called X, Nightbeat, Escape and on a variety of Frederic Ziv syndicated programs like Bold Venture, Favorite Story and other “second banana” roles. Conrad shifted into the leading role when he was cast as Matt Dillon on radio's Gunsmoke in 1952—perhaps the last great CBS radio series. Conrad wanted desperately to play the role on television, too, and there's a famous photo of the radio cast dolled up in western attire as they auditioned for the new TV series in 1955. But the portly Conrad lost the role to James Arness and while Arness played Dillon on TV, Conrad continued to portray the character on radio until the program was cancelled in 1961. Conrad had limited success in film and television in the 1960s and ‘70s and it wasn't until he was cast as detective Frank Cannon on the detective series Cannon in 1971 through 1976 that he truly received attention for his TV work. Conrad passed away of heart problems in 1994 and was inducted in the Radio Hall of Fame in 1997.