Joan Kenlay is the ex-wife of Robert Conrad, the late legendary actor best known for his role as James T. West in the television show The Wild Wild West. Joan Kenlay was born on 17 April 1935 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States of America, to well-to-do parents Floyd Marion Kenlay Sr. and Marjorie Kenlay née O’Brien.
Joan Kenlay got married to Robert Conrad at a very young age, and when he was yet to become a successful actor. As the wife of his youth, she stuck with him through his struggles in the entertainment industry, birthed their children, and even maintained a cordial relationship with him after their divorce. If she were to be alive today, she would be 88 years old. Unfortunately, Joan Kenlay died on 6 January 1998 in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, at sixty-two years old.
Joan Kenlay Came From a Well-to-do Home
Marjorie Joan Kenlay was born on 17 April 1935 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States of America. Her father, Floyd Marion Kenlay Sr., was a wealthy lawyer, while her mother, Marjorie Kenlay née O’Brien, was possibly a homemaker. Joan wasn’t an only child.
She had two sisters Susan Nancy Smith née Kenlay and Valerie Kenlay. And three brothers, Floyd Kenlay, Richard Kenlay, and Robert Kenlay. She also had a step-sister Mary Alyce Kerner Christensen, from her father’s previous marriage to ex-wife Helena Cermak Kerner.
Joan Kenlay grew up in Chicago, Illinois. Her wealthy background meant that she got the best possible education at the time. She attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Lake Forest, which was a private Roman Catholic girls’ high school. She could have possibly gone on to college. However, Joan Kenlay’s education ended as she got married to Robert Conrad.
She and Robert Conrad Eloped When They Were Both 17 Years Old
Joan Kenlay and Robert Conrad were both Chicago citizens and must have connected on this ground. At the time the two got together and began dating, Conrad was studying drama at Northwestern University. However, their relationship did not sit well with Joan Kenlay’s wealthy family, who probably thought the struggling Conrad was too young and not yet established. The lovebirds decided to take matters into their hands and fight for their young love.
In 1952, when both were just 17 years old, Joan Kenlay and Robert Conrad eloped. On 27 February 1952, they got wedded in Louisville, Kentucky. To keep their whereabouts hidden from their parents, the newlyweds lived under an assumed name. Robert Conrad used Hubbard (his stepfather’s name) as his surname.
In May 1952, Robert was ‘forced’ to disclose their location when Joan became pregnant with their first child. The thought of a grandchild undoubtedly changed their parents’ minds about their marriage, and the couple was free to live out their life together.
In the early stages of their marriage, Joan and her husband, who were still teenagers, had it tough. Conrad took on various odd jobs to support his young family. He worked as a docker, a candy factory worker, a milkman, a singer, and a stuntman to make ends meet. Ultimately, he became a successful actor after starring in the 1965–1969 television series The Wild Wild West, as well as other successful flicks.
Joan Kenlay Was Robert Conrad’s Wife for Twenty-Five Years
Joan Kenlay and Robert Conrad were married from 1952 to 1977. Their twenty-five years of marriage were mostly blissful and devoid of any scandal. The couple had five children together, whom they raised to become successful adults. The reason for the impromptu divorce is, therefore, unknown. Their separation was mutual and amicable, and the former couple continued to interact and work together even after the marriage ended.
Joan never remarried after the end of her marriage with Robert Conrad. However, she worked alongside her children in some of Conrad’s movies and TV shows. For example, she was in charge of the finances when Conrad sponsored and directed the 1988 television series High Mountain Rangers, which featured sons Shane Conrad and Christian Conrad. Their daughter Joan Conrad was the producer, and Nancy Conrad was the caterer. Christy Conrad was employed as a still photographer.
The Couple had Five Children Together
Joan Kenlay’s twenty-five years of marriage to Robert Conrad produced five children. Daughter Joan Conrad was born on December 31, 1952. She is a film producer and director. She is known for flicks such as High Mountain Rangers (1987), Jesse Hawkes (1989), and High Sierra Search and Rescue (1995). Joan Conrad is married to Timothy Maclachlan ‘Toes’ Erwin, and the two have two children, one of which is actor Jesse Shane Erwin.
Daughter Nancy Conrad was born on 1 March 1954. She is an actress and is known for Black Sheep Squadron (1976), Sudden Death (1977), and The Rockford Files (1974). Nancy Conrad is married to Norton Flynn. Joan Kenlay’s first son Christian Conrad was born on 17 September 1964. He is also an actor, with movies like Jingle All the Way (1996), Star Trek: Voyager (1995), and High Mountain Rangers (1987) to his name.
Joan and Robert’s fourth child, Christy Conrad, was born in 1967. She attended Pepperdine University but chose a path away from the movie industry. Finally, their last son, Shane Conrad, was born on 24 September 1971. Just like his father and older siblings, he became an actor and director. He is known for The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), Wanderlust (2012), and The Crazies (2010).
Joan Kenlay Passed Away in January 1998
Unfortunately, Joan Kenlay is deceased. Before her death, she was the matriarch of the Conrad family company, handling all the business affairs and making major decisions. She died on 6 January 1998 in her home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, at sixty-two.
Her cause of death is undisclosed. At the time of her death, she was survived by her five children and eleven grandchildren. Her ex-husband, veteran actor Robert Conrad passed away on February 8, 2020, in Malibu, California, at the age of eighty-four.