R.I.P. Conrad Janis, Mork & Mindy actor and accomplished musician

His career started on Broadway at 13 and continued for the next seven decades.

The Everett Collection

Though he is best known for his acting, Conrad Janis was a man of many talents. He played Fred McConnell, the father of Pam Dawber’s title character in Mork & Mindy, but also performed trombone at Carnegie Hall, on The Tonight Show and in the Beverly Hills Unlisted Jazz Band with fellow actor George Segal on banjo. 

Born on February 11, 1928, in New York City, it didn’t take Janis long to get into show business. He debuted on Broadway at 13 years old in Junior Miss. The play ran for two years in Manhattan before touring the country. Janis stayed in the role until he was 16 when he made the leap to feature films.

His first movie was the 1945 film Snafu, about a young teenager who lies about his age and enlists in the Marines. After his next role in the Jeanne Crain movie Margie, he signed a contract with 20th Century Fox that paid him $750 a week, ten times the usual starting rate. His Broadway experience gave him a higher value.

Janis appeared alongside Ronald Reagan and Shirley Temple in the drama That Hagen Girl followed by a part in Beyond Glory with Alan Ladd and Donna Reed.

After five movies in three years (he was also in 1947’s The Brasher Dubloon), Janis joined the brand-new medium of television. He utilized his live theater talents in programs like Starlight Theatre and The Philco Television Playhouse.  

“It was an exciting time because everything was live,” Janis noted in a 2015 interview. “You had to memorize the entire show for the night of broadcast. We’d do one-hour shows six or seven nights a week, with very little time for rehearsal. If people forgot their lines or a prop gun didn’t fire, you just had to ad-lib your way out of it.”

In the Sixties, Janis guest starred in shows like The Untouchables, Get Smart and, in a precursor to his later success in an alien sitcom, My Favorite Martian

Before contending with Robin Williams’ kooky alien, Janis appeared in other Seventies shows like Cannon, The Waltons, The Jeffersons and Maude. He also played the father of Richie’s love interest in an episode of Happy Days and a train conductor in Laverne & Shirley, though the latter role was halfway into his run on Mork & Mindy

In the 1980s, Janis could be seen in Mama’s Family, St. Elsewhere, Remington Steele, Highway to Heavenand The Golden Girls. He had a cameo as himself in Garry Marshall’s 1986 film Nothing in Common starring Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason. 

Janis continued to appear on screens big and small for years, popping up in Diagnosis MurderFrasier and the Jim Carrey movie The Cable Guy

He passed away this month at the age of 94. 

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jacko3 27 months ago
May the Good LORD Bless the Life & Soul of - Conrad Janis
UTZAAKE 27 months ago
"In the Sixties, Janis guest starred in shows like The Untouchables,..."
timothys71 27 months ago
I can say that 94 is a good ripe age. I know him best for his role on "Mork and Mindy", but he was truly a man of many talents. I love all 4 seasons of that show, but I have to agree with others that the first season was the best overall. He only appeared in a couple of season 2 episodes but returned as a semi-regular in seasons 3 and 4. Kind of wish MeTV could pick up "Mork and Mindy," though I heard a rumor that Rewind TV (which currently carries it) may be coming to my area.
jholton30062 27 months ago
He was an excellent jazz trombone player, and he was in a band with George Segal that showed up on The Tonight Show a few times. I'll remember him for that more than anything else. May he rest in peace...
Michael 27 months ago
He was on Murder She Wrote three times, different characters. It seems inevitable that you'd ap pear there if you were an actor of a certain age. And Love Boat too.
Kenner 27 months ago
R.I.P. Conrad. Saw you in The brasher doubloon recently. 1947.
WordsmithWorks 27 months ago
Love these deep dives. Sorry this one had to be posthumously. R.I.P.
daDoctah 27 months ago
I haven't completely researched this, but I think Conrad Janis may have been Shirley Temple's last living on-screen dance partner. She danced with him in THAT HAGEN GIRL, where I believe she also partnered with co-stars Ronald Reagan and Rory Calhoun.
MrsPhilHarris 27 months ago
Probably my favourite character on Mork & Mindy. The show went downhill in season 2 after he left. Weirdly the first role I thought of was his playing himself in Nothing In Common.
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Moody Michael 27 months ago
I watched the first season of Mork & Mindy and some of the 2nd season but started to lose interest after awhile. I did get interested again when Jonathan Winters joined the cast but it was a bust imo. I just don't think it worked at all. It was disappointing to me because I liked both comedians.
MrsPhilHarris Michael 27 months ago
I believe it was top 3 the first year so why they would want to change it is beyond me. I got part way through the second season and gave up. I don’t recall watching the the other seasons. If I did I don’t remember any of them. I don’t think I’ve seen the show since it originally aired either.
There was one report it failed in syndication because everyone had seen it during the first season.
texasluva Moody 27 months ago
Short movie quiz in minutes
Jeremy 27 months ago
I just heard. Can't believe it although I must.
TheDavBow3 27 months ago
What a versatile actor! Such longevity in show business! A true marvel of an actor! Rest In Peace.
Peter_Falk_Fan 27 months ago
I must admit it. I got on here thinking that there would be a story about William Hurt's passing. I was shocked to see the passing of another versatile actor. I always liked him on "Mork & Mindy". I would like to check out his first movie, "Snafu". The title reminds me of Private Snafu of the WWII training films.

R.I.P. Conrad Janis
Michael Peter_Falk_Fan 27 months ago
William Hurt didn't do tv. Surprisingly, there's not a long string of minor roles before he became a leading man.

It's kind of amusing, since he made some comment to Marlee Matlin about her winning an Oscar on her first role. He did get some non-Oscar nominations on his first role
Peter_Falk_Fan Michael 27 months ago
I know he was known for making movies, but I looked at his IMDb page and he did do some TV. He was even nominated for an Emmy for playing Daniel Purcell on the FX series “Damages".
Michael Peter_Falk_Fan 27 months ago
I just looked at his early roles. Boom, he's in Altered State, Body Heat and Big Chill.
Peter_Falk_Fan Michael 27 months ago
"Body Heat" is one of my favorite William Hurt movies. I haven't seen it in a long time. I liked "Children of a Lesser God" too.

AnnaRentzVandenhazel 27 months ago
Wow! I had no idea he was that old, he was obviously 49 when Mork and Mindy came out but he seemed younger. And I recall that episode of Highway to Heaven, "The Devil and Jonathan Smith" about 10 years later, he didn't seem to have aged at all.
Runeshaper 27 months ago
R.I.P. Conrad Janis. Such a talented man. I recall seeing him in numerous shows (-:
Michael 27 months ago
Didn't he play a KAOS agent in Get Smart? It's the episode where Max's aunt and uncle visit, and a shoe store.

Just a while ago, I commented about the music store disappearing from Mork & Mindy.

He played a judge in a drunken car accident on The Waltons.

It was good to see him on the screen.
LoveMETV22 27 months ago
R.I.P. Conrad Janis. A familiar face, enjoyed his character on Mork & Mindy, but his other TV appearances as well.
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