William Conrad was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He began his radio career on various California radio stations in the late 1930s. Conrad joined the service during World War II, serving as a fighter pilot. He returned to radio after the war and later took his talent to television and motion pictures.
Conrad had a prolific career in radio. His most famous role was that of Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, which he portrayed on radio from 1952 to 1961. Though he hoped to continue the role when the show moved to television, producers didn’t think he looked like a hero, with his balding head and heavy-set physique.
On television his most famous roles are of private detective and gourmet cook Frank Cannon in Cannon (1971-1976) and District Attourney and, later, private detective, Jason Lochinvar "Fatman" McCabe in Jake and the Fatman (1987-1992).
William was married to Tippy Conrad. He had one son, Christopher Conrad.