Adam-12's Kent McCord named his daughter after Ricky Nelson's wife
Elvis, football and fate came together to change McCord's life.
What's in a name? Some first names are just phonetically pleasing and sound great paired with the last name. Other times, names are a way to honor a loved one. Lots of us are named after our elders; people name their children after relatives, friends, and even celebrities.
While the name "Kristen McWhirter" might not immediately conjure up classic TV, it's a television trivia trove.
According to the official Kent McCord biography, Kent was a high school football star and accepted a scholarship to the University of Utah. As his football skills propelled him toward higher education, a more significant sport-related development occurred in Kent McCord's life. In 1961, McCord was asked to come to Hollywood to participate in the most important touch football game of his life.
On that fateful afternoon, Kent McCord played on a team captained by Ricky Nelson. The King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley, led the opposition.
For McCord, it wasn't just a friendly game. It was the beginning of his new life. McCord got along so well with Ricky Nelson that the star gave McCord his first acting job. Kent McCord would appear on The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet a total of 44 times over the next five years. McCord played a character named "Kent," who was Ricky Nelson's character's fraternity brother. McCord was credited using his birth name, "Kent McWhirter."
His gridiron grit must've also impressed Elvis, as McCord acted in The King's movies Viva Las Vegas, Kissin' Cousins, Roustabout, Frankie and Johnny, and Girl Happy.
Kent McCord didn't just make a great impression with Nelson and Presley. Pretty soon, studios were taking an interest in the burgeoning star. Universal Studios signed McCord to a contract that led to appearances in The Virginian, Run for Your Life, and eventually, Dragnet 1967. His time on Dragnet '67 caught the attention of actor/producer Jack Webb, who cast McCord in Adam-12.
According to a 1969 article in New Rochelle, NY's The Standard-Star, Kent and his wife Cynthia decided to honor their family friends by naming their daughter "Kristen," after Nelson's then-wife Kris.
Kristen McCoy appeared in the 1968 Adam-12 episode "Operation Action."