Robet Conrad had a venomous close call on ''The Wild Wild West''

The story soon turned deadly.

Image credit: CBS Television Distribution

Acting's not supposed to be a dangerous gig. Stuntwork can get perilous, but acting is supposed to be relatively safe.  But, anything can happen on the set of a Hollywood production. This was especially true back in the '60s and '70s.

The Wild Wild West shouldn't have been a particularly hazardous workplace. The show was a TV Western like any other, and in theory, should've been just as safe. Robert Conrad, who starred in Wild, Wild West as government agent James West, did most of his own stunt work. This might've complicated things because accidents were not uncommon on the set. While filming the season four episode "Night of the Fugitives," Conrad fell a dozen feet and landed on his head. He lost his grip, swinging from a chandelier, and nearly broke his neck.

Remarkably, that wasn't Conrad's only interesting scrape with death on the set of The Wild Wild West. The actor told The Miami News about another close call in a 1974 interview:

"On one episode of Wild Wild West, I was supposed to do a scene in which a snake comes up and rubs against my knee," said Conrad."Then I pull out my gun, shoot the snake, and walk away.

"As we started the scene I noticed the camera was about five feet further back than usual. And the director was five yards behind the camera, and the rest of the crew was back along the far wall. I thought to myself there must be something dangerous going on."

Conrad's instincts were right. 

"We did the scene as planned. The snake rubbed, I shot him and walked away, with the trainer motioning me to hurry.

"So I asked the trainer how you de-venomize a snake like that. He said, 'Oh, that's a cobra. If you milk the venom his throat drys up and he dies. He wouldn't have been any good for the scene.'"

Obviously, Robert Conrad was entitled to some follow-up questions.

"But what if he had bitten me?" the actor asked.

Conrad said that the trainer pulled out a tube of antidote, telling him it would make him sick for two weeks if he needed an injection. 

"So I asked him if he'd ever been bitten, and he took his shirt off and showed me bites all over his chest and arms. He said he had been bitten hundreds of times.

"About a month later I heard that he had been bitten again, by the same cobra I had been working with. But he had been injected too many times and he had built up an immunity to the vaccine. He was dead in less than two hours."

Too much of a good thing is a bad thing, especially when it's snake anti-venom.

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Jimtypes 1 month ago
Yow! TV is not worth any actor's life !
Runeshaper 1 month ago
That is really is a very sad story )-:
royhairston 1 month ago
James West (Robert Conrad) was Superman to me when I was growing up.
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