Did you notice that the same minor criminal appeared in both Adam-12 and Dragnet?
What's the deal with ''Steve Deal''?
Both Dragnet and Adam-12 take place in creator Jack Webb's television universe. This led to hard-to-miss crossovers. Kent McCord popped up as Officer Jim Reed several times on Dragnet, while his Adam-12 partner Martin Milner appeared just once as Officer Pete Malloy.
But there were some far more obscure characters bleeding over between shows. One in particular was a memorable member of the underworld. His name may not ring a bell, and two different actors played the crook, but "Steve Deal" made his mark on L.A. crime. And it's pretty interesting to think of the character as a career criminal.
Let's start in 1967, in season two of the color Dragnet reboot with Harry Morgan. In the episode "The Bid Ad," Friday and Gannon bang on Steve Deal's apartment door, "a cheap couple of rooms over a pottery shop." Deal is an ex-con who is suspected of "solicitation to commit murder." He had done "a year for grand theft auto." Though, to be fair, at this point he seems to be on the straight-and-narrow, playing bongos and crafting greeting cards.
Friday and Gannon visit him, however, because he played a personal ad in a "hippie newspaper" saying he would do anything for money. In response, Deal received two offers of marriage and a murder-for-hire offer.
Deal is more of a witness here. Five years later, he apparently fell off the wagon.
In the Adam-12 episode "Killing Ground," Reed and Malloy stumble upon two fugitive bank robbers in a camper van. The more violent one is nursing a bullet wound in his shoulder. His name? Steve Deal.
We like to imagine it is the same fellow, an easter egg, if you will. It adds a little more insider narrative to the Jack Webb cinematic universe.
Don Dubbins played Steve Deal on Dragnet. John Davis Chandler was the character on Adam-12.
Dubbins (above left) and Chandler (right) had eerily similar careers. The both appeared on Route 66, The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, The Fugitive, Cannon, The Rookies, Fantasy Island, Police Story, The Incredible Hulk, Simon & Simon and Murder, She Wrote.
Is it all mere coincidence? Perhaps. But we like to imagine there's a little more magic to Hollywood.