Friday, November 25, 2011

The Wild, Wild West: TV Series Opening (Color), Theme, Mini-Documentary, and More!

By Nicholas Stix

The Wild, Wild West ran from 1965-1969 on Sunday nights. I used to watch it with my nana. It had a wonderful, Western-style theme, it starred Robert Conrad and Ross Martin as Secret Service agents James West and Artemus Gordon, and was set just after the Civil War. The heroes would travel around in a luxurious railroad car, which they would park just out of town in the locales where they would do battle with criminal masterminds.

Pretty boy Conrad got to play a lady-killer, and had to do numerous stunts and fight scenes in every episode; he later said that he did “99 percent” of his own stunts, which resulted in several injuries, including a concussion. Character actor Martin did several disguise-and-dialect routines in each episode. Conrad recounts Johnny Carson asking Martin if the latter did his own stunts, and Martin responding, “No, but I do my own acting,” as a dig at the dramatically limited Conrad.

The show blended the Western, espionage, and science fiction genres. It was a time when little boys like my friends and I had Man from Uncle attaché cases with hidden weapons, and worshiped Sean Connery’s James Bond character.

In 1979 and 1980, Conrad and Martin got back together for two TV movies based on the series. They were planning a third TV movie at the time of Martin’s death in 1981, due to a massive heart attack. Conrad would later say that he had no interest in making further Wild, Wild West TV movies without his old acting partner.

I never saw the show in color, but this opening is the one I always saw in black and white.

The Wild, Wild West theme composed by Richard Markowitz

Thanks to RetroTVClassics.


Robert Conrad - The Wild Wild West, Mini-Documentary

Thanks to jlovebirch, who writes:

Seen only once in the '90s, ads and host segments for a Wild, Wild, West marathon. Conrad shares some insights on the classic '60s series. (In 1989, by chance, I got to see him film his Jesse Hawkes series on location in San Francisco.)

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