Robert Conrad's Wife of 27 Years Remarried before His Death Yet Called Him Her 'Partner' after His Funeral
After 27 years of marriage, Hollywood Actor Robert Conrad divorced his second wife, Lavelda. She subsequently married another man, but after Richard's death was announced, the actress still referred to her ex-husband as her partner.
Robert Conrad was one of the ultimate TV stars of his generation. The veteran actor was well renowned for even performing his own stunts.
He was popularly known for his jaw-dropping performances in movies like "The Wild Wild West," where he played the character Jim West.
Robert also stunned fans with his perfect portrayal of a World War II fighter in the movie "Black Sheep Squadron," portraying the real-life character of Pappy Boyington.
Away from the movie scene, the actor was married twice and was also the father to eight children from his marriages.
Before his death, however, the veteran actor was on a quest to find his one last love. Here are some details about his relationships and children.
ROBERT CONRAD'S FIRST MARRIAGE AND RELATIONSHIP WITH KIDS
Robert's first marriage was to his young sweetheart, Joan Kenlay. The actor eloped with her, and they started living under the assumed name of "Robert Conrad" so that their parents would not be able to locate them.
However, in May 1952, Robert decided to inform their parents of their whereabouts after he discovered that his wife was pregnant and he would soon be a father.
Also, he believed becoming parents to a child would deter their parents from going against their relationship, and they would have to accept it.
A year later, his wife became pregnant for the second time, but six months into her pregnancy, in December 1953, Robert lost his job.
He had filed a petition against his Union steward, which would ultimately have gotten the steward fired but instead, it was Robert who lost his job at the docks where he was working.
Robert and his first wife were married for 25 years and, in that period, became parents to five children; the eldest, Joan, named after her mother, Nancy, Christy, and sons Shane and Christian.
The actor and his wife made sure their kids were raised right, and even after their divorce, the mother of four continued to take charge of the family's finances. Robert disclosed:
"My wife and I tried to see that our children were honest, hardworking, basically moral people."
Most of Robert's kids grew up following in their father's footsteps and even appearing or working alongside him on movie sets, including the "High Mountain Rangers."
The actor's daughter, Nancy, praised her father for being a hard worker during the filming. She said, "Dad is a hard worker. If people drag their feet, he gets impatient." His eldest child and producer Joan said that trying to calm their father is sometimes a bit of a strain. Joan confessed:
"He starts ranting and raving. It takes a while to patiently take him aside and show him why things might not be going well."
She, however, wished she inherited a few of his talents and creative abilities but not much of his personality.
GENDER EQUALITY IN CONRAD'S FAMILY AND HIS STRICT PARENTING
Richard made sure he raised his kids to have very close relationships. The actor was also very fond of his children.
When he came up with the idea of creating the show "High Mountain Rangers," Richard also pitched for his kids to be involved. As a result, Shane and Chris starred in the series while eldest child Joan produced it.
Even though he was financing the whole production of the show, the veteran was happy to relinquish the role of the producer to his daughter. He explained that he was banking on the show to be successful and was glad to be leading the crew even though he could not sack anyone.
Richard was also not bothered about sharing power across gender lines, and even though he had a machismo image, many more women were working on the series than other TV crews.
The actor was an advocate of gender equality, a character he instilled in his kids as they grew. According to Joan, she disclosed that:
"The boys were taught how to iron and sew, and I remember Dad taking me to work out at Gold's Gym."
Due to his upbringing as a child of Chicago working-class parents, Richard was also very strict with his children while they were young. The actor enrolled the girls in Catholic schools and banned them from dating until they were 16. He also expected them to be always neat and keep their rooms spotless.
He was, however, happy when his kids showed an interest in following his footsteps into the show business. Robert's sons Shane and Christian loved acting from the start. The latter revealed:
"I was raised on the set of Wild, Wild West. I got to play all these fantasies on the backlots of studios."
The kids were delighted to be working on the project all at the same with their father. Joan explained working with her siblings, and their father made things a lot easier. She concluded:
"We never dreamed we'd all do this together successfully."
ROBERT CONRAD'S 27-YEAR MARRIAGE WITH YOUNGER SECOND WIFE AND TRAGIC ACCIDENT
In 1978, 43-year old Robert was invited to Atlanta to act as an emcee at pageantry when he met the 17-year-old Miss National Teenager beauty queen, LaVelda, who was passing on her crown.
There, the pair started talking, and the actor, who was still married to his first wife, made the first move on the girl. He said:
"I asked her on the air when she would be 18, and she said in a week, and I said, 'Call me in a week.' She didn't, but I called her. That wasn't robbing the cradle; it was grand theft."
Subsequently, the actor and LaVelda started a romantic relationship, and luckily for the actor, his new wife got on with his first family quite well. Robert confessed:
"I never thought I'd dance more than once, but LaVelda is the honest, real person I know."
Afterward, Robert and LaVelda moved to a secluded town with a population of about 100 people in Bear Valley, California.
The couple became parents to three kids; Kaja, Camille, and Chelsea. Speaking on their relationship, the actor lauded his second wife and explained, "You've got to be into a guy to want to move with him and live this kind of life."
However, on March 13, 2003, the actor was involved in a car accident that left him partially paralyzed on his left side.
Robert, whose alcohol level was above 0.20 percent, almost three times the legal limit, had collided with another vehicle and injured the occupant Kevin Burnett. The actor was subsequently charged with two drunk driving charges.
After the incident, LaVelda, who had also become an actress, explained that the actor suffered a spinal cord injury and had just 40 percent use of his left arm.
He also used a wheelchair but could take some steps if he had help. The actor, aged 73, also suffered short-term memory loss, and his speech was also affected.
The actress explained that Richard was suffering from depression and had been placed on medication. Meanwhile, their kids grew up to be very successful individuals. The couple's child Chelsea became a Jazz-Pop singer while Camille worked as an actress.
ROBERT'S SECOND WIFE MOVED FORWARD – HE TRIED TO FIND A NEW LOVE BEFORE DEATH
In 2010, after 27 years of marriage Robert and LaVelda called it quits on their marriage, and afterward, the actor said he would like to find love again. He revealed:
"I'd love to fall in love again! I love women. I've been divorced for four years, and I'm not happy about it."
The veteran actor hoped to sell his Malibu mansion and move to Spain to find love before his death. Robert confessed, "I'd love to have a good woman in my life right now. I'd like to have one last love before I go."
Sadly Robert could not fulfill his wish before he died in 2020, aged 84. According to the family's spokesperson Jeff Ballard, the actor died of heart failure in Malibu, California.
After Robert's death was announced, LaVelda eulogized him by posting their pictures on Instagram, which she captioned:
"Rest in peace, partner. You taught me well. Because of you, I know I can be bruised but not broken. Thank you for the challenge... and the greatest gift of all; Kaja, Camille, and Chelsea."
However, after their divorce, she had moved on and married another man. Robert was survived by eight children and 18 grandchildren. The actor's family also requested that well-wishers make donations to the Wounded Warrior Project and The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.