Robert Conrad, the rugged, contentious actor who starred in the hugely popular 1960s television series Hawaiian Eye and The Wild Wild West, died Saturday, the AP reports. He was 84. The actor died of heart failure in Malibu, Calif., family spokesperson Jeff Ballard said. A small private service is planned for March 1, which would have been his 85th birthday. "He lived a wonderfully long life and while the family is saddened by his passing, he will live forever in their hearts," Ballard said. With his good looks and strong physique, Conrad was a rising young actor when he was chosen for the lead in Hawaiian Eye. He became an overnight star after the show debuted in 1959. Conrad played Tom Lopaka, a daring private investigator whose partner was Tracy Steele, played by Anthony Eisley.
After five seasons with the show, Conrad went on to embrace the television craze of the time, period Westerns, but with a decidedly different twist. In The Wild, Wild West, which debuted in 1965, he was James T. West, a James Bond-like agent who used innovative tactics and futuristic gadgets to battle bizarre villains. Conrad also starred in Baa Baa Black Sheep and numerous films including Young Dillinger, Murph the Surf, The Bandits, The Lady in Red, and Wrong Is Right. Throughout Hollywood, Conrad had a reputation as a tough customer and was sued more than a half-dozen times as a result of fist fights. "If you treat me nicely, I'll treat you nicer," he once said. "If you're rude to me, put your headgear on. Here it comes." Conrad is survived by eight children and 18 grandchildren. (A major movie star also died this week.)