Wednesday, March 01, 2006

William Conrad

If you are an old guy, and you listened to Radio on Thursday Nights ("The Lone Ranger") and Sunday mornings after church ("Gunsmoke"), you know who William Conrad is.

If you only watched television, you know him from "Cannon", which revealed him as Santa Claus with a Gibert Roland pencil-thin moustache.

But William Conrad was much more than that.

He was ... "The Voice" before James Earl Jones and Star Wars, and even before Don LaFontaine.

Picture Orson Wells, and you have almost the complete image.

For me, his most memorable role was as the narrator of "Leiningen and the Ants", a dramatic story which Charleton Heston later portrayed in a movie.

As much as I admire Heston, and as well as he played the role, I have to say that Conrad's vocal presentation was more dramatic, more profound, and more inclined to put me on the edge of my chair.

In fact, you can buy at least some of Conrad's performances here. (I did, and I'll be anxious to get them so I can listen to him while I post later articles here.)

Perhaps this article was initiated by a fit of nostalgia, and I'll be the first to admit that Thomas Wolf was right when he suggested that "you can never go home any more", meaning that when you go home ... it isn't the home you remembered.

It may be disappointing to actually sit through hundreds of hours of William Conrad reading scripts and books in MP3 files.

But I don't think so.

And if it happens that IS boring, I'll never say so.

William Conrad is the king of radio drama, with the possible exception of the recent books on tape narrator Frank Muller.

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