One of radio’s consummate actors, William Conrad was born in September of 1920 in Louisville, Kentucky. He began his radio career in the late 1930s, appearing on various California stations. A fighter pilot during World War II, Conrad returned to show business after the war and utilized his rich baritone voice in radio and motion pictures.
Conrad estimated that he appeared in over 7,500 roles on radio. He was regularly heard inviting listeners to “get away from it all” on CBS’ Escape. Conrad’s other radio credits include appearances on The Damon Runyon Theater, The Lux Radio Theater, Nightbeat, Fibber McGee and Molly and Suspense. For “The Wax Works,” a 1956 episode of Suspense, Conrad demonstrated his versatility by performing all the roles.
Conrad’s longest-running role was that of U.S. marshal Matt Dillon on the groundbreaking radio western Gunsmoke, which aired on CBS radio from 1952 to 1961. When the golden age of radio was over, Conrad could be heard delivering the urgent narration for Jay Ward’s classic Bullwinkle Show. He later starred on the television shows Cannon and Jake and the Fatman.
William Conrad died on February 11, 1994.
He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1997.