5 funny actors who got serious on Adam-12

They’re known for making people smile, but their roles on the classic police procedural are no laughing matter.

The goal of Adam-12 was to show patrol officers in as realistic a way as possible. That meant a number of dramatic shootouts and chases but also plenty of funny moments. Actors like Pat Buttram from Green Acres and Hal Smith from The Andy Griffith Show played bumbling oafs. The Dick Van Dyke Show’s Rose Marie thought she had a rattle snake in her luggage when it was really just an electric toothbrush.

But sometimes actors who we know for their ability to make us laugh played it totally straight on the classic cop show. Here are five funny performers who were anything but in Adam-12.

Watch Adam-12 on MeTV!

One Full Hour

Weekdays at 5 PM

*available in most MeTV markets

1. Cloris Leachman

Though she was equally at home in dramas and comedies, screen legend Cloris Leachman will always be remembered for her hilarious portrayal of Phyllis in The Mary Tyler Moore Show followed by her own spinoff. She also played the frighteningly funny Frau Blücher in the classic Mel Brooks film Young Frankestein. A few years before these famous roles, Leachman guest starred on Adam-12 in a part that was about as serious as it gets – a pill-addicted mother who endangers her children.

2. Jackie Coogan

Beloved my millions as kooky Uncle Fester in The Addams Family, Jackie Coogan wore a mustache and a much more serious demeanor as a football trainer in Adam-12. Coogan’s character was attacked by a burglar raiding the team’s medicine cabinet. Though Coogan plays it straight, it’s impossible not to hear a little bit of Uncle Fester in the way Coogan indignantly rebuts Reed and Malloy’s questioning.

3. Larry Linville

Because Larry Linville’s most famous character, Major Frank Burns in M*A*S*H, took himself so seriously, it’s not hard to imagine the actor in non-comedic roles. But make no mistake, playing the straight man takes the same comedic talent and timing as the one cracking jokes. In Adam-12, Linville plays it straight without any comedic affect as a detective who looks down on beat cops like Reed and Malloy.

4. Art Metrano

Though he was a TV character actor for decades, Art Metrano is perhaps best known for his hilarious role in the second and third Police Academy movies. He played Mauser, a lieutenant and eventually commandant who fell victim to various pranks pulled by the officers he oversaw. In Adam-12, Metrano played a serious role on the other side of the law as a thug in sunglasses who hates cops because an officer shot his brother.

5. Donna Douglas

Donna Douglas delighted millions for nine seasons as the sweet and funny Elly May Clampett in The Beverly Hillbillies. Elly had an undeniable southern twang and brought all kinds of furry friends into the Clampett’s mansion. Two years after Hillbillies ended, Douglas appeared in Adam-12 as a woman whose only similarity to Elly May was her large house. Douglas had no hint of an accent and the silliness audiences had been accustomed to was gone as she told Reed and Malloy about a prowler in the neighborhood.

Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


RedSamRackham 19 months ago
* Larry Linville also appeared as cadet Sloane on Night Gallery "The Academy" episode. Jackie Coogan a great character actor who did much more than Uncle Fester! ☺
CuriousGeo 28 months ago
Although not a star, Shaaron Claridge, the RTO’s voice on Adam-12, passed away earlier this year at 82.
RichLorn 28 months ago
For those of you who were all primed to take a quiz, don't despair. I'm here to save the day.

1. How many actors are highlighted in this article?
[ ] 0
[ ] 5
[ ] 462

2. What is the 3rd actor's name?
[ ] Larry Linville
[ ] Mortimer Snerd
[ ] There is no 3rd actor.

3. What do the 2 female actors have in common?
[ ] They are wearing the same dress.
[ ] They are twins.
[ ] They are not twins.

4. What TV show did they all appear on?
[ ] Adam 12
[ ] The Muppets Take Memphis.
[ ] Adam 6

5. What am I wearing?
[ ] Santa's elf costume
[ ] Pajamas
[ ] !!*^&&%($

Good luck all you trivia hounds.

MarkSpeck 28 months ago
What about Dick Sargent as one of two neighbors feuding over a boat, a feud that ultimately took a very deadly turn? Or Morey Amsterdam as a character named 'Jerry Mermaid', who'd heard all the jokes about his name?
top_cat_james_1 28 months ago
Forgot Monkee Micky Dolenz (playing a biker thug of all things) in a 1972 episode, "Dirt Duel"
William386 28 months ago
I think that I done a very good job on here thanks William Brian mccloud
CoreyC 28 months ago
Donna Douglas was on the classic Twilight Zone episode Eye Of The Beholder.
wanderer2575 CoreyC 28 months ago
Only at the end and she had only one or two lines, but here is a testament to her acting ability: The plan was for Maxine Stuart (who portrayed the character whose face was bandaged and unseen for most of the episode) to dub those lines. But Donna Douglas stayed on set and observed during the filming, and when she did her speaking scene she so accurately imitated Maxine Stuart's voice that her lines were not overdubbed.
Andybandit 28 months ago
I like seeing all the different people on Adam-12, a lot of people got their start on this show. Kent McCord is a good looking guy.
Pacificsun Andybandit 28 months ago
I like it because they played it straight. The situations and the drama of them, spoke for itself. So many didn't have solutions. That was pretty brave of that series to write storylines that way!
OlgaBagley 28 months ago
Art Metrano he played on. Barney Miller before movies
TheDavBow3 28 months ago
Kinda used to seeing Larry in a serious role as a Mannix fan.
Load previous comments
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 28 months ago
I don't know why MeTV figures fans aren't paying attention to the late night "owl" timeslots! Why don't they haul stories like the one you've provided out of the dust bin, and fill-in for the holiday holes (and no, I shouldn't have to recommend the obvious, it's above my pay grade).

I've thought about this. And I think they assume the geriatric "Shatner Sells Medicare" advertising can't stay up that late (2am in my marketplace). We've been stuck with "Teeter's Inversion" invention lately. Hardly a senior's dream.

But I have news for the MeTV crew, is that I discovered classic TV BECAUSE of the overnight hours. Where all the hidden gems in the beginning were stashed. This was the quality programming and wonderful Stars featured in those hour long action/adventure/fantasy series. Because, (here's the secret) they had absolutely no competition during those hours from network TV.

I understand how the niche market has become segmented. But it doesn't mean, by any means, that these TV series gems shouldn't be brought out for a rerun occasionally. It they were, would encourage the sales of boxed sets. Because people would be discovering how great the series (and those like them) are.

Thanks LoveMeTV 22 for helping to make this point. Going into the "Shows" Tab on this site is a great secret!
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 28 months ago
Oh I think they would! Especially the 6pm timeslot on Saturday night as Sci-Fi Saturday gets underway. It was a goldmine timeslot for Wild, Wild West!
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 28 months ago
I lost my place here. So what I wanted to add is, if they reran the wonderful stories about the Shows to viewers who are discovering the schedule, they'd go and look for these shows. And the revenue would become just as valuable. DVRs are a wonderful invention.
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 28 months ago
Schedule is a keyword or their scheduling strategy. Given they choose block style programming doesn't mean the blocks can't be rearranged. Just a thought.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?