Jack Webb fought to keep Adam-12 alive through the power of Kent McCord's popularity

The show's creator wanted to keep the show going with a new partner — Bing Crosby's kid!

When Adam-12 star Martin Milner (Officer Pete Malloy) got signed to play the dad in Swiss Family Robinson, it was 1975, and his previous show Adam-12 was still hugely popular — and still on the air.

It was uncertain what this would mean for the fate of the show, but true fans know 1975 was the year that Adam-12 ended with a riveting two-part finale called "Something Worth Dying For."

For Milner's co-star Kent McCord, who played his partner Officer Jim Reed, the show was just getting back to its roots again when Milner's departure swiftly pulled the program from schedules.

"I'm enjoying my work more this season than any time since the first year," McCord told The Morning Call in 1975. "I think the reason is that we're getting better scripts. We've gone back to the original concept of the show — a single concept, just a day in the life of two cops out cruising in a black-and-white — and we had sort of gotten away from that concept in the last few seasons."

Adam-12 creator Jack Webb agreed with McCord that the show still had legs, and he apparently approached McCord in 1975 to see if he would agree to continue starring on the show with a new cast.

Webb's plan was to plug in Bing Crosby's son, the singer and actor Gary Crosby, to replace Milner, and according to The Intelligencer-Journal in 1975, Webb felt strongly about it, saying, "He's not going to allow his Adam-12 series to go down without a fight."

When the show ended anyway despite Webb's fighting spirit, it was a disappointment to Webb and fans, and of course, to McCord.

Before Adam-12, nobody knew McCord unless they happened to be fans of The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, but after Adam-12, no part seemed to fit the actor like his Adam-12 uniform. Adam-12 had a reputation as the most realistic portrayal of police work, and McCord in that role made the most convincing cop.

"You could put Kent in a LAPD squad inspection group, and I don't think that even the chief would spot him as an actor," Milner joked to The Atlanta Constitution in 1976.

However, three days before the finale episode of Adam-12 aired, McCord experienced a "big event" that distracted him from the show ending, when he welcomed his new son into his family. For the next year, he became consumed in caring for his family and making his home the way he wanted.

"Before and after that big event, I tackled projects that had piled up at home," McCord said. "Remodeling, painting and landscaping. I hadn't had time to do half the things I wanted to do around the house."

He was much more interested in being at home right then than acting, turning down a major studio pilot and other roles. After patrolling for seven seasons on his popular and critically acclaimed show, he wasn't too worried his fans would forget him.

"I don't want to do run-of-the-mill roles," McCord told The Tampa Times in 1976. "Adam reruns are on the tube all over the country six nights a week. So, I don't have to remind viewers that there's a Kent McCord."

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MikefromJersey 30 months ago
In the episode "Monkey Business 007" from season 4 of McHales Navy, set in Italy, Kent McCord
appears as a motorcycle dispatch rider who drives up and enters Binghamton's office.
He is later revealed to be a German spy. In the credits he is listed as Kent McWhirter, his
birth name.
JohnBoy17 31 months ago
Gary Crosby already was playing officer Ed Wells on Adam-12 the whole series long, and wasn't any too-much popular a buddy of both Reed & Malloy if we follow the scripts, I suppose he'd have been cast as a new character altogether, not sure how well that would've worked out with the show's TV audience at the time. I was only a kid when Adam-12 originally got cancelled, I was just 5 years old. I've watched reruns of it all my life and it always struck me as a bit over-acted as did Dragnet the 1967-70 series, I enjoy them they just seem somewhat unrealistic in order to appear completely acceptable across the board in their day.
Does MeTV have the older, ORIGINAL Dragnet TV show series from the 1950s? Which also starred and was made by Jack Webb with like four other different actors filling the role played so well by Harry Morgan in the much more well known 1967-70 series? The later series is ALL we ever see ANYWHERE, it would be awesome to get to see ANY of that original 1950s Dragnet TV show!
Randall 32 months ago
Whenever I watch NCIS, I think of an ADAM-12 episode called GUS CORBIN. I read somewhere that after Martins departure, that McCord would become the Training officer and that Gus Corbin (played by MARK HARMON) would be the Rookie . Corbin was a retired Marine, just like another role he now plays.
JohnBoy17 Randall 31 months ago
Hey Gus, you dropped something!
MichaelGreene 33 months ago
Regarding "Taking it Easy", the early Adam-12 episode for August 5, 2021, when Reed has to work the desk, his partner was "Officer Smith". Considering that Smith was played by former Webb partner on the first Dragnet series, Barney Phillips...he played Sgt. Ed Jacobs, also a detective, and the successor to the character played by Barton Yarborough(Sgt. Ben Romero) for 2 episodes, until Yarborough died in 1951 from a heart attack, it surprises me that Webb didn't bring back the Sgt Jacobs Character.
MichaelGreene 34 months ago
There wasn't always always continuity with the Jack Webb version of the LAPD universe. I noticed it on an Adam-12 episode where Reed and Malloy have a priest of Mexican extraction attempt to work with street gangs whose members are of Mexican extraction. The character, played by Trini Lopez, was named Father Xavier Rojas.. There was a character who was a priest named Xavier Rojas in the Christmas-related shows of both Dragnet series, played by Harry Bartell. Perhaps Webb wanted the (then) celebrity of Trini Lopez over his old reliable Harry Bartell, but perhaps Lopez' priest could have been a nephew namesake? OK, that may have been anticipating the 1987 Dragnet movie, where Dan Aykroyd's Joe Friday was a namesake nephew to the Jack Webb character. But after half a century, it's a possible thought.
Cowgirl 35 months ago
It wouldn't have worked with Gary Crosby. Ed Wells was annoying. They would have had to change his character.
nightshade 36 months ago
if I remember right didn't they have an adam-12 and dragnet syndicated series? in la, it was on at 1 o clock on the weekends on ch 11
Andybandit 36 months ago
I am glad they didn't use Gary Crosby as Martin Milner's replacement. It would not have not worked out. I like Kent McCord. He was good looking. He reminded me of Ricky Nelson.
MichaelEasterwood 36 months ago
The show would have died without Milner.He was Adam12.Crosbys character was annoying.A whole season with him in full episodes would have been a disaster. The show ended at the right time,on a high note.
HerbF 36 months ago
Webb liked McCord so much, that when he was writing his 2nd revival of DRAGNET in the early 1980's before his death, he wanted McCord to play the partner role - However, it's unknown if McCord would be playing Jim Reed - who had 15 years or so at this point - now a Detective, or if it would be a new character in the Smith/Gannon mode of a good lighthearted Detective as a counterpoint to Friday. (and would he have reinstated Friday's rank back to Lt. as it was at the end of the 1950's series, but back to Sgt. in the 1960's - would be kind of odd for a Detective with over 30 years with his gold shield to still be a Sgt!)

Word is 4 scripts were written, but they have never surfaced, and supposedly NBC was interested...But what type of DRAGNET would we have gotten - the 50's Style or the 60's style - or perhaps a bit of both updated to the 1980's.
OldTVfanatic HerbF 36 months ago
Most likely adapted to the new-wave style of the early 80s. But I don’t feel Dragnet would have worked in that context, since 1983 made everything so computer and digital oriented. In other words, we entered the future in ‘83 and basically, Dragnet wasn’t able to do so.
MichaelGreene HerbF 35 months ago
Near the end of Adam-12, Reed's character was studying for the Detective's exam. It stands to reason that Reed may have also went for the Sergeant's Exam in that time. As Herb F has noted, had a third version of Dragnet been made with Jack Webb, it would have made sense for him to finally re-acquire his Lieutenant's badge that he had at the end of the 1950's Dragnet series. Also, in the 1987 Dragnet movie with Dan Aykroyd playing Friday's namesake nephew, his boss is Captain Bill Gannon(played by Harry Morgan). Gannon was studying for the Sergeant exam when the 2nd Dragnet series ended. It would stand to reason that he moved up in the LAPD in 17 years.
Now that I've had a chance to think about it, even if Webb got the Lieutenant rank back on a third Dragnet series, he may have been teetering on being way old for a Lieutenant. That was the thing that was noted about Ray Collins playing Lieutenant Tragg on Perry Mason...Collins was at an age where in real life, it would have been an anomaly for someone past 65 years old to still be an active police officer. It may have had something to do with when Collins had to scale back his appearances in Perry Mason due to failing health, younger actors (Wesley Lau from 1961 to 1965, ad Lieutenant Anderson, and Richard Anderson, as Steve Drumm in the last season) were brought in to play Homicide Lieutenants. (Incidentally, Ray Collins still appeared in the credits for the show until the end of the 1965 season, when he died, though he last filmed an episode in late 1963...the show's producers wanted to encourage him while he was ill.)
trainman31 HerbF 34 months ago
It’s pretty well documented that Mc Cord would have been Jim Reed. That is what Jack Webb wanted.
Ray Collins was part of Orson Welles legendary stock company, The Mercury Theater, and as
such took part in some of the best radio and movie dramas produced back then. He
was hugely popular and respected in Hollywood, so I suspect his age was overlooked when
casting Tragg. The audience back then would have known him right away and his presence
would give the show gravitas when it debuted. Hale and Burr were known but they were
both "B" list stars.
Barry22 36 months ago
.....and yet he ended up on Galactia 80.
Moody Barry22 36 months ago
Yeah, that was a real stinker of a show. I'm surprised he took on that role.
Deleted 36 months ago
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TheDavBow3 36 months ago
Very much agree. U.N.C.L.E.'s 3rd season just became too campy and just too hard to come back from that. The rest of that 4th season would've been good too!
UTZAAKE 36 months ago
Love that you stated "the Spy fad was petering out." Have always thought that espionage was a popular sport from 1961 to 1966.
StrayCat 34 months ago
It seems NBC had a penchant for ruining successful shows, then attempting to recover by restoring them to their original premise, but usually too late to save them. In addition to your mention of Man from U.N.C.L.E they also did this with Miami Vice and several others. And they couldn't wait to get rid of Star Trek.
MikefromJersey 30 months ago
Bob Denver did a lot of regional theater, I saw him with Karen Valentine(wow, what a knock
out even 20 years after Room 222) at the Paper Mill Playhouse. He was also a sort of
gentleman farmer when he settled in the W.V. outback, growing a crop Jack Webb would
not approve of. I wrote him there for an autographed, he must have been feeling good
because he sent me 7 or 8 autographed photos, some Maynard G. Krebs, some Gilligan.
I had asked him if he missed his days as a teacher, and being just Bob Denver, which
he appreciated.
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