Martin Milner : ‘Route 66’ and ‘Adam-12’ star passes away

Updated: September 10, 2015
Martin Milner : 'Route 66' and 'Adam-12' star passes away

Martin Milner, the star of such 1960s TV hits as Adam-12and Route 66, has died. He was 83.

Milner died of heart failure at his home in Carlsbad, Calif., on Sunday, his wife told The New York Times.

Milner was a familiar face on the small screen. His acting career spanned half a century, appearing in everything from “Dragnet” to “Murder, She Wrote.” He was often called upon to play cops, military officers and other authority figures.

Two TV roles put him behind the wheel of a car, fighting crime and seeking adventure.

“Route 66,” which ran from 1960 to 1964, had Milner playing Tod Stiles, a young man who traveled the country with friend Buz Murdock (later Lincoln Case) in a Corvette convertible. The two would take odd jobs while helping the people of this fine land with their foibles.

“Route 66” tackled social issues and filmed in locations all over the country, reflecting the rise of American car culture and the interstate highway system.

However, it was his role as a tough – yet compassionate cop Pete Malloy on “Adam-12,” which ran from 1968 to 1975 that cemented Milner’s reputation. “Adam 12” was credited with introducing many Americans to police jargon and procedures – as well as inspiring countless young people to pursue careers in law enforcement.

“Adam 12” followed two patrol cops cruising the streets of Los Angeles. A steady, principled veteran of the force, Malloy was paired with a rookie cop, Jim Reed (Kent McCord). Plotlines were based on actual LAPD cases.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck says that Milner’s role on “Adam-12” inspired him and countless others to join the force.

“#Adam12 and Martin Milner embodied the spirit of the #LAPD to millions of viewers,” the LAPD’s Beck said Monday on Twitter. “His depiction of a professional & tough yet compassionate cop led 2 thousands of men & women applying 2 become #LAPD officers, including me.”

Milner moved with his family from Detroit to Los Angeles as a teenager and soon began appearing steadily on TV and in movies. His big break came in the early 1950s, when he met actor-producer Jack Webb, who gave him a role on “Dragnet” and later cast him in “Adam-12.”

Milner had small movie roles in “Sweet Smell of Success” and “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” and TV parts on “The Life of Riley,” “Rawhide,” “Columbo,” “Swiss Family Robinson” and “MacGyver.”

He reprised his Pete Malloy role in the TV series “The New Adam-12,” which had a brief run in 1990-91.