RIP Bean, Conrad

(Above, Orson Bean and Robert Conrad in 1965. Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Orson Bean was a proverbial jokester and Robert Conrad steadfastly serious. So we don’t think they ever appeared together — at least not until this weekend’s celebrity obituaries.

Orson Bean

The witty Bean, who died Friday at 91, was a comic, character actor, game show regular and frequent talk show guest.

Bean played Mr. Bevis in a classic 1959 episode of CBS’ The Twilight Zone (available to Hulu, Netflix and CBS All Access subscribers) and made his final appearance just this year as Bruno in the 10th episode of the final season of Netflix’s Grace and Frankie.

But he’s most remembered by one generation of viewers as a long-time panelist on CBS’ To Tell the Truth. Here, in one of many episodes available on YouTube, is a typical episode with the classic panel of Bean, Tom Poston, Peggy Cass and Kitty Carlisle, plus host Bud Collyer. In this November 1, 1965, show, Bean notes that he’s opening that very night on Broadway in The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd (and watch for legendary film producer Ismail Merchant, of Merchant Ivory fame, as one of the imposters in the second segment).

Another generation of viewers remember Bean from his regular role of Loren Bray on CBS’ Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (149 episodes, 1993-1998). You can buy episodes of the series for $1.99 each from Amazon, or watch two episodes free every morning at 6 am on Start TV. Visit that channel’s Where to Watch page to identify where to tune in over the air via an antenna, or on cable.

And here, from 2016, is a one-man show, Safe at Home with Orson Bean:

Robert Conrad

Over three decades on three different networks, Conrad starred in three hit TV series: the detective series Hawaiian Eye (ABC, 1959-1963), the sci-fi western The Wild Wild West (CBS, 1965-1969) and the World War II military drama Baa, Baa Black Sheep (NBC, 1976-1978).

Coincidentally, just a few hours after Conrad’s death at age 84 was made public on Saturday, Heroes & Icons began airing Baa Baa Black Sheep — now titled Black Sheep Squadron — Saturday nights at 7 pm ET. Visit Heroes & Icons’ Where to Watch page to identify where to tune in for free over the air via an antenna, or on cable.

None of Conrad’s big three series are streaming, and Black Sheep is the only one currently running over the air.

Here are intros to all three shows.

Incidentally, for a recent interview with the cantankerous Conrad, check out episode two of Then Again with Herbie J Pilato, available free with ads on Shout Factory TV and Tubi, or ad-free if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber.

About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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