Martin Milner Archives: Periodical Articles

"Do You Remember?: Adam-12"

"I remember the outtakes," says Adam-12 script girl Cynnie Troup. "The most interesting thing about the show was that Marty and Kent were truly good friends, which is fairly rare on television shows. And the relationship was very much like the parts they played; you know, Marty sort of being the older, advisor type, and Kent like the young rookie. That's what their real relationship was like."

"And aside from the outtakes being very funny, what impressed me the most is that you see what good friends Marty and Kent are. That was the highlight of the whole thing: you see how much they enjoy each other and their screw-ups and their fun with each other, and that really was unusual."

Upon hearing this assessment, an exuberant Martin Milner told us, "Yes, that's true and we still do. You have a lot of acquaintances, but Kent is the sort of a friend that if I were in jail in Tijuana, he'd be the one I'd call because I know he'd come down and get me out!"

Such a beautiful friendship might never have begun if Kent McCord had been allowed to follow his first inclination. As Adam-12's Sgt. MacDonald, Bill Boyett, remembers it, "Kent had done a Dragnet, where he's the young cop accused [of an armed robbery, 'The Big Interrogation', 2-9-67], and it was just Kent and Harry Morgan and Jack Webb. "Kent felt very intimidated and didn't like it. He was under contract to Universal, and the story goes that he went to Universal and said, 'Ill never work for that guy again. That's a terrible experience..'

"And then Webb went to Universal and said, 'I've seen a lot of these kids you've got under contract and this is the only one that's any good, and I want him on my show.' "And then Kent indeed became a big fan of Webb's. Just a few months ago they had a big L.A.P.D. memorial, and Webb was featured very strongly in it, and Kent was one of the keynote speakers."

Marty Milner was an old friend of Webb's when he was offered the part. He told us, "I was rehearsing a Broadway play and we were in out-of-town trials. We were in Paramus, New Jersey and Buck's County, Pennsylvania and places like that. And the play looked very promising to me; Dyan Cannon and I starred in it. And I told Jack that I couldn't do Adam-12 because I had a year's committment on this play.

We had a change in cast and we had a little break and then ten day's rehearsal and then we were going to open at the Biltmore Theater in New York. He said, 'Well, how little is the break?' And I said, 'A week.' And he said, 'Well, come back and do the pilot during that week and I'll get you outta here,' and actually he got me out of there by limo to the airport at like two o'clock in the morning to get back and start rehearsals in New York.

"I was sure that the play was gonna be a big hit and didn't really think too much of the chances of the pilot. And the play was just an awful failure, just went into the toilet, and fortunately I'd done the pilot and the pilot sold, so once again I was lucky," chuckles Marty, "and not smart!"

Jack Webb, although the most demanding of leaders, is remembered with great fondness by his employees. Producer and drinking buddy Tom Williams--who can do quite an impressive Webb imitation--laughs, "After six o'clock he was a riot! But before that...

"I know this is not Harry's original line, but Harry Morgan said about Webb: 'One thing about Webb, he's never troubled by doubt.' "If he said, 'The couch goes over there,' that was it. There was no 'wouldn't it be better if it--"'It goes over there.' And that was the end of it. But he would test us a lot [to see] if you would stick by your guns. "I came to him when we first were doing Dragnet and I said, 'The badge is crooked on the screen.'

"I had worked at The Horn in Santa Monica, it's a night club, and he says, 'Oh listen to this, people. Here's a guy from The Horn, a comedian, who's gonna tell us about movies...' "And I said, 'No, my father's a bricklayer and I know when things are straight and when they're crooked.' I said, 'That thing is a little too far to the right.'

"He said, 'Go get a cel.' So I went down and got a cel, and I came back. And he said, 'It is; it's off. Sonofabitch! It's off.' "When you looked at it on the film clip you could tell it's really over. Then I got the cel and I see where they made the thing, so I brought both of 'em back to him and I said, 'See, it's too far over this way.'

"Well, when you looked at it, it's not really that far off but it was something that he eventually would've seen and would've raised hell at all of us, saying, 'Why the hell didn't anyone see that?!' So it's one of those things that you say, 'You better mention it because you're gonna hear about it later.'

"Well, he had got on the phone and started chewing out the entire Universal studio, and then they would come to me, saying, 'Don't tell him stuff like that! Come to us, we'll fix it! You never had any trouble working for Webb over there--they did anything he wanted."

That 'Joe Friday' walk was not the real Webb, laughs Tom. "He walked very slouchy and very slow. "No, that was what he considered a determined walk, like, the ramrod walk. If you ever saw The D.I., that's exactly the way Webb was when you worked for him. He was really the D.I. He tried to instill fear and also, like a football coach, tried to get you all rabble-roused into really doing something.

"On Jack's set you would think that they were filming every time you walked in there. I mean, it was so quiet, people would walk in and say, 'Are they filming in there?'

"No, this is Jack Webb's set.'

'Ohhhh.'

"If you'd be talking out loud over there," laughs Tom, "he'd say, 'People, the money's over here, okay??' This is where the money happens, over here. Tell him about it on the weekend.' He would just shout at you like that, so eventually you just wouldn't say anything. He called everybody 'pal-ly,' too, which was hysterical! 'Hi pal-ly.'"

Marty Milner remembers Webb for his behind-the-scenes kindnesses. "He was a wonderful man. You know, he didn't like the limelight, as far as the help he gave to certain people, but he was very helpful to me and a lot of other people, too.

"During the radio years there was a very good actor, and he was in a terrible automobile accident and very badly crippled up [Vic Rodman]. And Jack still continued to use him on the radio after he recovered to the point where he could use his voice. But he couldn't turn the pages, so somebody else on the show always turned the pages for him.

"And Jack actually designed a [TV] series around this guy; it was called Noah's Ark; it was about a veterinarian, kind of in the Lionel Barrymore [vein]; he had this guy in a wheelchair."

TVC's (TV Collector's) good friend Paul Burke got his first regular role as that show's co-star. "I was originally supposed to do that show," recalls Marty. "I had wardrobe fittings and everything, and I was doing a movie with Burt Lancaster that went over schedule, and I couldn't do it, and I was heartbroken."

Once hired, the two stars of Adam-12 set out to learn the routine of police work by riding with real patrolmen. Marty recalls, "For a good six months we rode around. Kent rode in Hollywood Division most of the time and I rode in South L.A.

"They were never real happy that I was around, I don't think, cuz I think it was a bother and another person to be concerned about. One thing we did discover--After a while I always wore a shirt and tie, and if somebody would look at me, they'd just say I was from the D.A.'s office.

"The other thing that we discovered is, if they stopped somebody that was guilty of something, that person was so involved with their own situation that they didn't care who I was. But if they stopped somebody who didn't do what they were suspected of doing, then that person wasn't so nervous and kinda wondered who I was."

Of course, once the show went into production and location shots were in progress, the two "officers" were approached by citizens in need. Marty remembers, "Lots of times people would come up to the car and tell us something that was going on or something that we could take care of. "If the camera was around the corner and it was a shot of us driving by, coming around the corner, we'd be sitting where the civilians on the street couldn't see the camera and they'd think we were cops. But that was only the first coupl'a years. After the show got pretty popular that wasn't the case."

Cynnie Troup laughs as she remembers the kind of moment that occurred after that transition. "Every other week I spent a whole day on the floor in the back seat of the car doing radio calls while they drove around. "They towed the car; they mounted three cameras on the front of the hood and they would run the scene and get all the coverage done, the two-shot and the two close-ups.

"And they took the bottom of the back seat out and had a furniture pad down there and I would lay down there with my book, reading 'One-adam-12, see the man,' or '415, Code Three,' or whatever, for them to act to. Later they would dub in the voice of the girl. "I would literally get carsick sometimes, cuz you do them for, like, three shows at once. Once they got that rig going you'd just drive around and around. And Marty and Kent were so funny with their jeans on, and then the cop outfits from the waist up!"

"Once, we stopped in Hollywood; they wanted a cup of coffee. So the three of us walk in and sit down. There was no camera; you don't know there's a movie or anything, and this guy looks up and is going: 'No...Huh??' I remember the look on the guy's face; I mean, it was just a double-take of, like: 'What?! Wait a minute. Aren't you those guys on TV??!"

Those guys are on TV in Canada as well as the U.S. thanks to Universal's agreeing to a clause insisted on by Canadian stations. Tom Williams told us, "The show appeared in Canada on Tuesday before the Friday. The cities that were on the border wouldn't buy it if they couldn't get it in Canada a couple of days early. "So we had to have everything finished about thirty days before it was on the air. Now, they can have it done, like, two days before and put it on the satellite!"

The Adam-12 cars were a perfect match for the real thing--almost--as Tom Williams told us. "The last year, they added two cars to the Los Angeles Police order, that we paid for. [Before that,] we would just buy the same car and then paint it to look exactly like it, except we always made one little difference in it so we'd know if it was our car used anyplace else.

"Sometimes the black line didn't go to the white part below the window in the rear, things like that, so you could identify on film if it was being used on any other show; I could say, 'That's our car, Jack.' No one else was allowed to use that seal."

The precaution came after at least one incident that pushed lawfulness, well....sort of beyond its limits. Tom told us, "In the pilot we had some badges from the Los Angeles Police Department, but they forgot to collect 'em after one time, and three guys playing policemen went into a bar across the street and had a drink. Oh boy, did we hear about that!"

Accidents will happen, and a few of them did while Marty Milner was at the wheel. Tom Williams recalls, "Those tow-shows were done every other Friday. They couldn't see anything; they were being towed down the street. Webb and his cameraman designed that hood rig; the three cameras ran simultaneously. That's why, if there was a car behind them, it would match all the time. A lot of shows were using rear screen projection, but we just went out and did all of that. Those were all real cars back there.

And in the police car that you would see on exteriors where the car's doing run-bys and things like that, that usually wasn't them. We would have extras, because from that distance you couldn't tell who it was. But sometimes on that Friday when we'd go out to do the tow-shots and they still had a couple of hours left, we would put [Milner and McCord] in a car and have them drive around and shoots shots with them.

"One time we had to do a thing were they were running pursuit of a guy and they made a circle. They had to spin around. Marty just lost it, and they ran into a pole. Both of 'em were okay, but boy, did everybody sit there going: 'Where are we gonna get another car now?!'

"Marty was excellent in what we call a 'drive up and stop.' That's hard to do because the camera's right there and you must be right in the center, you must put the camera right in the center of the picture. "And what you usually do is, look at something across the street and line yourself up between two things across the street, so when you drive up--Boom! You're not looking at the camera; you're looking at the fireplug and the parking meter here.

"Marty was excellent at that. He could just come in fast and stop right at the right place or come in slow and stop in the right place."

Marty chuckles, "Four years on Route 66 helped! There was one time we were working where the old trolley tracks are in North Hollywood. And the director said, 'Just jump the car over the trolley tracks.'

"And I said, 'The car's not gonna make it over the trolley tracks. And he said, 'Oh yeah, we've built up the bank a little bit, we've moved some dirt in to make a little ramp, and it's gonna be fine.'

"I said, 'No, it's not! It's not gonna make it.' Well, it went over the tracks, it didn't make it, and tore the whole bottom of the car out!" A happenstance that must've made the star feel just terrible--or maybe a little smug? "Well, yeah," Marty laughs. "Both of the above.!"

Veteran actor Leo Gordon, who has made a long career playing heavies, worked on Adam-12 both for the camera and behind it. He remembers one of his guest-starring roles, in the episode 'Million Dollar Buff' (9-22-71), with great relish. "We used my car in it, and also an aerial view of our house. I had a brand new Toronado at the time--the second one in California. I had thumb cuffs and a pistol and a two-way radio in it, and the whole kit and caboodle. 'The Buff' was the working title; I'd go around busting all these animals and they all thought I was a cop, and the cops were getting pissed off cuz I'd call 'em and I'd have the guys in handcuffs.

"I wrote 21 of them, the only fellow who wrote more was Steve Cannell. I wrote a thing called 'Charlie.' It was with Don "Red" Barry as an ex-con who'd just gotten out of the joint, and he goes to Reed and Malloy, cuz they busted him, and he says, 'Fellas, I can't cut it out here, it's too dangerous. You know, I try to curl up in a doorway to get some sleep and I wake up in the mornin' and my shoes are gone. And I'm lucky my throat's not cut.

It's too rough out here. I want to go back to the joint. See if you can arrange it, fellas, where I can do a federal jolt. Cuz those federal cells--they're much better, the food's great, and things are much nicer there. It's the Hilton compared to the Dunes, you know?'

And he's got a pipe he keeps rubbing. He says, 'I don't smoke it anymore but it's like worry beads, you know? I just keep playing with it.' So, at the crux of the whole situation is, they hear an alarm go off and they dash across the street to a savings and loan, which is federal, and this old guy comes backing out, Don "Red" Barry, and as he turns to Reed and Malloy, the guard shoots him.

"And he looks up at Malloy, he's dying and he says, 'It wasn't you, was it, Malloy?' And Don said that show just revitalized his whole damn career for about a coupla' years!" (That episode, 'Suspect Number One,' aired 10-29-74).

Producer Bob Cinader was the person the stars went to if they had any problems with the show's scripts. Marty Milner recalls the production routine. "I think we'd meet Monday and discuss the show that would start in eight days. We would read through with Bob Cinader and the story editor, and find what needed to be fixed, and that would give the guys eight days to fix 'em before the show began shooting."

I didn't realize for a while what a good actor Kent was. And we had some disagreements over the years, but the disagreements were always over the content of what we were doing and never any personality conflicts. Kent seems very laid back, but he has some very strong artistic opinions.

I can remember one story that came in where we finally threw out the whole script because the writer didn't really understand the relationship between Kent and me. I was supposed to be very suspicious that he had done something wrong, and had that been the case, my character would've said, 'Hey, what'd you do here?' Instead, I was just kinda sneaking around and worrying about it, and it just didn't work."

Two of Marty's four children appeared on Adam-12: his daughter Amy, who was a young teen ("Victim of the Crime," 1-28-75), and son Andy, who may have been the youngest stunt double in TV history. Marty recalls, "We did an episode about a little boy on a motorbike ['Northeast Division', 12-5-73] that was giving us the slip. We were chasing him all over the valley and he could get on his motorbike, he could go through vacant lots and up back alleys and places we couldn't go.

"My youngest son was really good on a motorbike. He was only six or seven, and he doubled the kid; he did all the motorbike stuff."

The nature of a show like Adam-12 with a brevity and flurry of scenes and story lines, precluded two important things: the real emoting that an actor thrives on, and anecdotes to be later told to folks like us.

Bill Boyett, who played Sgt. MacDonald through the whole run, can't recall any memorable moments. For guest stars, it was a mere one day's work, with little chance for anything significant to occur. TVC's good friend Rose Marie may sum up the guest star experience for everyone with her quip, "All I know is I worked at night and it was the longest night I ever had in my life. And I used to say, Everybody goes on location to Paris, to Europe, to London...Me? I go to Burbank!"

For Marty Milner, the specifics of episodes are fleeting memories at best. He does recall one moment when he got to do some real acting. "I remember once working with a child and I thought, 'Hey, that worked out pretty well!' And some of the stuff with Kent, even though it wasn't heavy, was, I thought, very good. That's what really made the show work: the stuff in the car that sort of tied it all together and not just going from one episode on the street to another.

"I think the one episode that I remember more than any other is one where the car got wrecked and I was upside down in a wrecked car in Griffith Park and I was injured and couldn't get the radio to work. And I spent the whole episode there with all the cops looking for me. That was a pretty good show ['The Search', 10-20-71]."

As the series evolved over its seven years, so naturally, did the characters. Most notably, we saw the rookie Jim Reed (and the actor who played him) develop the confidence and presence that experience provides, to a point where the show came full circle with an episode that was evocative of the pilot.

In 'Gus Corbin', Reed is paired with a new young officer, played by Mark Harmon who gives him a taste of the same exasperations and anxieties that the green, naive Reed had given Malloy on their first shift together.

The series' end brought Reed as far as his character could evolve. The boyish, clean-cut goody-goody goes undercover as a scuzzy piece of riffraff. He's honored with an award at a special dinner, as his wife finds the ocassion a time to fret over the dangers of police work, and he confronts the question of what his future would be.

Pete Malloy recovered quickly from the bitterness that was supposed to permeate his character in the pilot, when he had just lost his partner. The bachelor officer, although extremely appealing, wasn't much of a ladies' man throughout the show's run. He avoided the flashy types that a man of less maturity would salivate for, and by the end of the series he had a steady girl, played by Andy Griffith Show alumna Aneta Corsaut.

Marty Milner knew that his character would go for a girl who'd best be called "solid". She was my choice for the role," he says. "I liked her a lot from The Andy Griffith Show and I thought that's just the sort of girl we needed."

The outtake reel from Adam-12 is undoubtably hilarious. Marty Milner (who recently loaned his copy to a friend, who ran it at a DEA party!) concedes that he and Kent were a couple of cut-ups, though he recalls no specifics.

Tom Williams remembers that when Jo Anne Worley guested on the show, Marty ran around wearing her wig on the set. "I don't remember that, but it sounds like something I'd do!" laughs Marty.

Leo Gordon's wife, actress Lynn Cartwright, guested on the show, and remembers, "At the end of this one scene where I'm a dope addict and they finally catch me when I'm going to buy the stuff, as they take me into the ambulance, there's the two guys; they stuck their card with their name on it, underneath, like, you know, 'We'll see you later!' They were always cuttin' up."

And Leo remembers a line blown by Kent McCord that must be the best Freudian slip of all time. "Liz Renay was doing an Adam-12 and the scene is, they knock at the door and she opens it up and she's wearing a body stocking. And if you've ever seen Liz Renay, you know nobody can do to a body stocking what Liz Renay can do to a body stocking. "So Kent McCord turns around to Malloy, and it just came out that way, cuz they're staring him right in the eye: "He says, 'Oh I have no change. You got two nipples for a dime?'"

Marty Milner is busier than ever these days. He's narrating seven World War II shows for The Discovery Channel, he still shows up on TV, and he hosts a weekly radio talk show. The topic: fishing!

"I'm an avid fisherman," he told us, "and for the past year and a half my partner and I have had a fishing talk show here in San Diego, on a station with a huge signal. It carries all over southern California; the tower's in Mexico. They're up to 77,000 watts!"

"We're on Saturday and Sunday mornings. You'd be amazed. It's a very narrow area of interest but the people that are interested in it are interested in the minutia. We have catch reports from all over and we talk to guides in Alaska."

"The first hour of our Saturday show is syndicated; we're on 16 western stations from Colorado Springs to Alaska. And we package trips for our listeners and take them all over the place."

Just after we spoke, Marty was taking forty listeners to Baja, California, and after five days at home was heading for Utah, to take a dozen people fly-fishing. "We're taking four trips to Mexico this year," he told us. "It's really lots of fun."

Marty tells us that former co-star Kent McCord has a number of projects in development, with hopes that they'll work together again. Although he has felt the woes of typecasting from his work on Adam-12, Marty says, "I'm so much further along in my career than I ever expected to be, and I've had such good times, that I'm not bitter about anything."

Married forever, Marty credits his wife with being the easy one to live with. His philosophy for marriage is simplicity personified: "The secret to a long marriage," he laughs, "is don't leave and don't die!"



The TV Collector
May-June 1995(#78)
By Diane L. Albert
Transcribed by L.A. Christie

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