Martin Milner used his role in Adam-12 to inspire kids across the country
Milner inspired a whole generation of future police officers in the 1970s.
Image credit: The Everett Collection
Most Los Angeles residents could tell you how to get around the city, but not all residents could tell you exactly where a crime took place, or where the Los Angeles Police Department is even located.
Martin Milner was able to get real familiar with the city during his time on Adam-12 (1968). He played the role of LAPD Officer Pete Malloy for a total of seven seasons.
Milner played the role in three other series, too: Dragnet (1967), The D.A. (1971) and Emergency! (1972). He was a real hardworking fake police officer.
He and his co-star Kent McCord, who played the role of Officer Jim Reed, became the best crime-fighting duo since Batman '66.
According to a 1971 interview with The Orlando Sentinel, Milner was confident that he could tell anyone where to find everything from a burger to early American furniture in LA; That's just how much Milner would drive around the city while filming the series.
"We sure have been around," Milner said. "It was my preference when we first talked about the series to shoot almost everything on location where it's happening. It gets a little frantic at times, because we always have crowds, and there are some problems when we have limited space. But I think it makes for a better show."
According to the interview, most of Milner's fan base consisted of children. In fact, Milner and McCord inspired a whole generation of kids to become police officers. He would even receive fan mail from both kids and other police officers, who would thank him for being an inspiration.
He and McCord spent so much time on the road that they could have easily quit acting to become real police officers, which we are sure would have been supported by the LAPD at the time.
He explained that kids were their strongest audience because they would go on promotional tours to middle schools and high schools. Children might not have been the expected Adam-12 audience, but Milner did prefer them.
"They open up and ask us a lot of honest questions," Milner said. "They want to know what our feelings are about law enforcement and what training and background we have for our roles. But they always talk to us as actors, not the policemen we play onscreen."
In addition to being a hit with the children, Adam-12 was among the top 20 highest-ranked series when it aired in 1968.
According to the interview, Milner said parents were upset that Adam-12 was on too late for their kids to stay up and watch, so Adam-12 was moved to an earlier 7 p.m. time slot.
"They felt it was good for kids to see how the police works so they could learn at an early age to respect law enforcement at a time when they are under much criticism from anti-establishment forces."
The series was co-produced by Universal Studios and Jack Webb's Mark VII Productions. Adam-12 was even filmed with the help and cooperation of the Los Angeles Police Department. It was voted as "the only accurate portrait of real world police activity."
According to the interview, there was always a police officer on set to look over what was written in each script. Whoever was on duty at Adam-12 would also pull local police files for writing and filming purposes.
During Milner's 10 years on TV, six of them were behind the wheel of a car. He spent a lot of time on the road, but luckily for Milner, all roads led to success.