12 things you never knew about Martin Milner

A dozen facts about the beloved Adam-12 star.

With his friendly smile and boyish looks, Martin Milner made for the perfect good guy. He looked good behind a steering wheel. No wonder he anchored two beloved television shows of the 1960s about buddies in cars, Route 66 and Adam-12

Most audiences know him as Officer Pete Malloy on Adam-12. To celebrate this beloved television star, let's take a look at a dozen things you might not know about his life and career.

Watch Adam-12 on MeTV!

One Full Hour

Weekdays at 5 PM

*available in most MeTV markets

1. He was the only natural redhead in his film debut.

The Milner family moved to Los Angeles when Martin was a teenager. It did not take long for him to start an acting career. In 1947, at the age of 15, he appeared in the comedy Life with Father, about a family of redheads called the Days. Milner was the only natural redhead — the other actors had to dye their hair. There was nearly a mishap during the hair-coloring process when the beauticians discovered the water had been turned off in the salon. The dyes might have burned through the hair if someone had not thought to rinse the chemicals with cold cream. Milner missed out on that behind-the-scenes drama.

Image: The Everett Collection

2. He contracted polio just after finishing that film.

Mere weeks after wrapping Life with Father, Milner contracted poliomyelitis. It took him about a year to recover. Jonas Salk's polio vaccine was not introduced until 1955.

Image: The Everett Collection

3. He met Jack Webb as a teenager in a war movie.

Before he joined the Army, he played a Marine. In 1950, the teenage Milner portrayed Whitney in Halls of Montezuma. Also in the cast was one Jack Webb, who was working on his Dragnet radio program at the time. Milner meeting Webb would prove to be quite fortuitous, as Webb would later cast Milner to star in his police series Adam-12.

Image: 20th Century Fox

4. He served in the Army with Clint Eastwood.

Milner joined the United States Army in 1952. He spent much of his two-year service at Fort Ord, California, in the Special Services, the sort-of arts section of the Army. Milner directed training films and acted in plays for the troops. He also befriended another future star at Fort Ord, Clint Eastwood, who was working as a lifeguard on the base.

Image: The Everett Collection

5. His wife and kids traveled with him on Route 66.

Milner landed his first major starring role in 1960 when he hopped into a Corvette with George Maharis on Route 66. Milner played Tod Stiles, a recent Yale graduate drifting across the United States with the tough and cool Buz Murdock (Maharis). The brooding Maharis received far more fan mail, but that likely did not bother the young family man Milner. Because Route 66 filmed on location all around the country, the production traveled just like the characters. Milner's wife, Judith Beth Jones (pictured), came along for the ride — and brought their young children.

Image: AP Photo

6. His daughter guest-starred in an episode of Adam-12.

Milner's family contributed to his next major role, as well. As mentioned above, Milner joined his old castmate Jack Webb as a co-lead on Adam-12, playing Pete Malloy. Webb cast Milner as a cop behind the wheel in part due to his experience driving the Corvette on Route 66. In the season seven episode "Victim of the Crime," Milner's daughter Amy played the daughter of a shopkeeper who is robbed. It was Amy's only screen credit.

7. His young son was a stunt driver on Adam-12.

Amy and Martin were not the only Milners seen onscreen in Adam-12. In a season six story, "Northwest Division," the officers chase a minor who tears across the city on a minibike. Johnny Whitaker (Family Affair, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters) played the character of the juvenile speed devil. However, he did not do the riding. The boy doing the stunt driving? That was none other than Andrew Milner, Martin's son!

8. He played Helen Hunt's dad.

On a fictional family note, Milner played a famous patriarch on the 1975 television version of The Swiss Family Robinson. Series producer Irvin Allen had essentially told the same story before with his sci-fi smash Lost in Space, so he adapted the original source material more faithfully a decade later. This lost family, however, only stayed together for a season. But, it did give Milner the chance to play the father of future Oscar-winner Helen Hunt, in her first major recurring role.

Image: The Everett Collection

9. He was the victim in the first episode of Columbo.

Steven Spielberg was the brilliant mind behind the camera for "Murder by the Book," the first episode of the Columbo series. In the early scenes, we see Milner pecking away at a typewriter. His character is one half of a mystery writing duo — until his partner kills him.

10. He was Macgyver's dad.

In the episode "Passages," MacGyver slips into a coma, where he dreams of meeting his deceased parents and the grandfather who raised him, Harry. Unlike Harry, MacGyver's mom and dad were rarely seen on the show. That's Milner in the middle as James MacGyver. Oddly, it was not Milner's first time on the action series. Two seasons earlier, he had played a hockey coach named Turk Donner in "Thin Ice."

11. His final screen role was an Adam-12 reunion.

Milner's final screen credit came on "Murder Blues," the season-five premiere of Diagnosis Murder. The episode was a nostalgic affair for lovers of cop dramas. Angie Dickinson (Police Woman), Fred Dryer (Hunter) and James Darren (T.J. Hooker) all guested. Oh, and we got to once again see Martin Milner with his former Adam-12 partner, Kent McCord.

12. The LAPD honored Milner after his death.

Los Angeles Police Department paid tribute to Martin Milner with a special ceremony following his death. Milner died on September 6, 2015, at the age of 83. Milner's family was in attendance, as was his Adam-12 costar Kent McCord. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck delivered a moving speech, saying, "As you watch any of the Adam-12 episodes, you see professional, compassionate, internally driven, hardworking, clean-cut, impeccably tailored, fit Los Angeles police officers — those police officers that have no dark side, that do the right things for the right reasons every time. And that is the image that drew us all to this place."

Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Post a comment
RAC2 1 month ago
I just finished watching an Adam 12 episode. I've been a long-time fan of Martin Milner. I enjoy watching him in any program. I look forward to seeing him and the other stars in Diagnosis Murder....when MTV begins to show that series. Thank you highlighting Martin Milner.
1960sChild 3 months ago
As a little girl in the late 60's I watched Adam 12 with my parents. Boy, did I have the hugest crush on Martin Milner in that role, he looked so good! Anyway, his acting skills were through the roof! I've seen him in so many movies and shows and his facial expressions are realistic to a fault every single time! So sad that he is gone, so many actors and actresses from that time are and it's depressing.
lzimmer 3 months ago
I’ve always liked Adam-12, and watched it frequently as a kid. It was my first introduction to police procedurals. I’ve seen Martin Milner on Murder She Wrote, among other shows, but have seldom seen Kent McCord in anything after this.
I’m begging the MeTV staff to PLEASE stop showing so many westerns! They are so boringly repetitive, they’re almost as bad as the “Little House On The Prairie” marathon on Cozi TV. Moving the westerns to Sunday in place of “Gilligan’s Island” would be much better. It would be nice to see “Diagnosis: Murder” again, in prime time, as well. And since you have Adam-12 on in the early evening, I suggest you ditch the Addams Family, with their one-joke format, and reinstate Emergency.
Gippy lzimmer 3 months ago
I love westerns. They are my favorite shows on Metv. That and Adam 12 and Dragnet. I do agree with you on Adams Family, but it’s more of it being in the wrong time slot. After Adam-12 doesn’t seem like a time for it. Put it in a comedy block
HopeDuchaine 6 months ago
I love Adam 12. I still watch it on MeTV at 5pm. This show reminds me of California in the 60's.
audie65 6 months ago
Was never a fan of Mash. What about f troop?? Haven't seen that in reruns since like 1975. Much rather see that than the Adam's Family!!
JoeyZone11 6 months ago
Why every time I try to reply to a comment I'm told to log in when I already am? Does anyone from MeTV read these comments??
LynCarceo 7 months ago
he was also in "Lost" as john Locke's father. not a good man, that role.
AnnieM LynCarceo 6 months ago
Actually, that was Kevin Tighe from "Emergency" who played Locke's father and who also ruined Sawyer's life as a kid. I get it, as I've mixed up those two men many a time over the years as they look so similar, and are most famous from the same era. The only reason I really remember this role well is because I am a huge fan of LOST.
RTZ2999 8 months ago
I am new to Adam-12 playing recently on TV. Never watched it as a kid. What strikes me, is how little has changed in 50 years. Cops still take the brunt of public anger and do it for very little pay. I think Martin did an awesome service to cops everywhere, this is the model they all aspire to be like. 99.9% do just that. Thank you for the vast majority of both human and decent police, you are truly a thin blue line.
PeterRoff 12 months ago
He is terrific in The Sweet Smell of Success -- as the jazz muscian dating Burt Lancaster's younger sister, much to Lancaster's character's disapproval. It would be great if MeTV showed movies featuring the stars of its programs on Saturday night.
DocForbin 19 months ago
Let's not forget that Milner also appeared in the original Twilight Zone episode "Mirror Image"--an episode that's notable because it has the most references to Upstate New York of any Rod Serling-written episode (five different towns are mentioned in that episode).
Dana 21 months ago
Please show the Murder Blues episode. Advertising it ahead of time would be great so I can set the DVR. I appreciate you showing these old shows! I love this channel!!
Kim 21 months ago
I agree with Boomer. Put Emergency, Adam-12, and Dragnet on weekday primetime or for 3 hours on Sunday. I have to get ready for work when Dragnet comes on and I am driving home from work when Adam-12 is on. At least I get to catch Wagon Train on Saturday morning.
Boomer 21 months ago
I really enjoyed anytime I got to see Martin Milner in any role during his countless appearances in many different Tv shows and movies throughout his acting career. I always remembered him as playing the serious actor role. One role that sticks with me (and I’m 55), was when he played in the 1974 movie called Hurricane. I was only 10 when that movie premiered and I don’t know why but I always remembered him in that role as an Air Force Hurricane Hunter Pilot. A very very good underrated movie that if anyone has the chance, you should take the time to watch it, you won’t be disappointed. Adam 12 has been one of the best additions to the MeTV lineup in a long while, my only wish is they would quit overplaying shows. Show one at a time. Doubling up means that within 5-6 months we’ll already be watching reruns. I wish they would have brought Dragnet in at 5:30pm ET (instead of am) so every week night it would be the 5-6pm ET hour filled with Adam 12 and Dragnet. I call it the MeTV Crime hour and it’s one of the best hours in their lineup. As many other MeTV fans, please don’t get me wrong, I am a MeTV fanatic and it’s rare my tv strays away from this channel, it has the absolute worst 6hrs of Tv on the planet. The Sunday noon to 6pm ET time slot SUCKS! Show 3 old movies in that time like Hurricane with Martin Milner. I beg you to PLEASE do something with the Gilligan 3hr tour like send it out to sea... PLEASE!
gene 21 months ago
I like METV but give tags, mash a rest, move to later at night, move the later shows to their time slot. Flintstones really move to Sunday, because I don't watch METV on Sunday
Ehsauve gene 19 months ago
Agreed on moving the Flintstones, move it to daytime! Get it out of early primetime
EmBee 22 months ago
They left out that he did a Saturday radio show on fishing, "Let's Talk Hook-up".
TommyBeard 22 months ago
You have been showing Mash & Hogan's Heroes for years now. I'm sick of both shows especially Mash. I never did like that show to begin with. Alan Alda with his wise cracks & dry humor. Why not show Laugh In at 7:00 P.M. & Johnny Caron at 10:00 P.M.
rhonda TommyBeard 22 months ago
Don't like Mash, either, but I love Hogan's Heroes. I watch it almost every night. Absolutely cannot stand Laugh In or Johnny Carson.
EmBee TommyBeard 22 months ago
There's an easy solution to that...don't watch them. I do agree, especially as the series progressed that had Alan Alda more and more maudlin or irreverent. But I still enjoy the show for the most part.
Teelyngreen TommyBeard 18 months ago
So tired of Mash, Hogan Hero's and The Rifle Man. I mean come on after 7 years... enough is enough!!!
Gippy EmBee 3 months ago
The first 3 seasons of MASH were classic. After that, not so good
MikeFranklin 22 months ago
I knew 5 of the 12 things about Martin Milner. He was also on The Twlight Zone with Vera Miles. They showed that episode a few times on MeTV. A brilliant man who could have done so much more and would have done it great. Grew up watching Adam-12. One of my favorites.
RustleCrow 22 months ago
They mention "The Halls of Montezuma", but forget about an even more touching role as another young doomed Marine in "Sands of Iwo Jima". He is shot to death on the beach, and when the corpsman rolls him over, you see a copy of "Our Hearts Were Young and Gay" in his pocket. A poignant contrast between young people living a carefree lifestyle in the 1920s, and other young people dying in the dirt halfway around the world.
Wiseguy RustleCrow 22 months ago
Everyone always assumes they "forgot" to mention something they remember. They don't have time to research everything or space to mention everything.
sportster1988 Wiseguy 21 months ago
Somebody had to say it and I'm glad it was you. These people that criticize sure think they know it all. Thanks Wiseguy!
Gregory 22 months ago
He played a villain in "13 Ghosts", 1960, which also played on MeTV's Svengoolie.
thegreatgavonne 22 months ago
One of the most underrated actors ever. He was simply fantastic.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?