Radio’s Most Essential People Countdown #7: William Conrad

8,9, 1012-1114-1316-1518-1720-19,22-2124-2326-2528-2730-2933-3136-34,

39-37,42-4045-4348-4651-4954-5257-5560-5865-6170-66,  71-7576-80,


7. William Conrad-

William ConradConrad’s great overarching claim to radio fame is a significant one. He played the role of Marshall Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke for its entire 9 year run. Gunsmoke began its run after radio in 1952 after television had eclipsed radio as a profit making enterprise  Nevertheless, Gunsmoke began its long run and also spawned a slew of new adult Westerns in the latter 1950s and Conrad played a large part in that. He also became a symbol of television’ shallowness when he was denied the ability to continue in the Dillon role on television due to his weight.

However, Conrad was more than just the star of this classic Western. He was also a great character actor often playing heavies or policemen in programs such as Tales of the Texas Rangers, Pat Novak for Hire, The Lux Radio Theater, I Was a Communist for the FBI, and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar among others.  His deep distinct voice also served to make him a good announcer, most notably on Escape and Mr. President.

He was a consummate team player who in radio and every other medium he appeared in, was  a true professional willing to step into any role, no matter how large or small and play it with great talent.  This made Conrad a great career in all mediums, and made his nearly two decades on radio truly phenomenal.

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