Martin Milner was an ace driver in real life — which led to the strangest job offer
He could have been a bodyguard for a dictator!
When Adam-12 premiered in 1968, the press fixated on one particular element of the cop show. Sure, the newspapers touted the drama's realism. And one columnist for King Features Syndicate marveled at Martin Milner's boyish looks, despite the fact that the star "at 36 has four children, hasn't had his face lifted, [and] doesn't use royal jelly from queen bees to stay young."
No, the common thread in all the publicity was Milner's driving.
"Milner has probably spent more time steering an automobile on screen than any other actor," pondered The Pocono Record the day before Adam-12 made its debut with "Log 1: The Impossible Mission." That was likely true. The actor was coming off four seasons of Route 66, in which he played Tod Stiles, owner of a gorgeous Corvette. Milner cruised around the country in the convertible for 116 episodes. In total, it was reported that Milner logged more than 125,000 miles driving on Route 66. Then, his next big gig, Adam-12, cast him as a beat cop behind the wheel of a black-and-white cruiser.
It was no act — Milner could handle an automobile with professional precision. No wonder his son was a stunt driver on Adam-12, too.
The fourth episode of the series, "Log 131," required "Milner to navigate his patrol car through a curved and narrow alley at 40 miles per hour in pursuit of a burglary suspect… Milner [then] must back the car up the entire alley at 30 miles an hour," explained The Pocono Record.
In his off time, Milner even turned parking at the grocery store into an action scene. He loved to whip his wife's station wagon through the supermarket lot, backing into a tight, available spot in one quick motion. "It never fails to create a stir," he said with a laugh. And, yes, Milner was from — where else? — the Motor City.
"That Marty can make a car do anything except fly and someday he may even accomplish that," raved his costar Kent McCord.
Likewise, a reporter for the North American Newspaper Alliance gushed about the "superlative auto driver."
"But the odd thing about Milner's case is that it's true," the writer confirmed. "He's for real." Milner could have capably worked as a pro driver. In fact, he was even offered a job thanks to his behind-the-wheel work onscreen.
In November 1968, a couple of months after Adam-12 had been on the air, a "South American dictator" offered Milner a job as his personal chauffeur-bodyguard. You know, like Kato on The Green Hornet. Seriously.
"I have had some strange offers all through my career," Milner said. "but this one has to go down as the most amazing. There were many extra fringe benefits in the offer." The TV star explained that the salary was even on par with his Hollywood paychecks.
The article, alas, does not name this South American dictator. Brazil and Ecuador are likely candidates, given the timeline. All we know for certain is that we are glad Milner turned down the offer for working on Adam-12. Talk about opposite sides.
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