LOS ANGELES, Calif. (FOX 11 / CNS) - Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck paid tribute to the late actor Martin Milner Monday for inspiring thousands of men and women to become LAPD officers through his portrayal of a beat cop on TV's hit show "Adam-12."Milner died at his home Sunday night at age 83. His death was first reported by the entertainment Website TMZ.
"Adam 12 and Martin Milner embodied the spirit of the LAPD to millions of viewers," Beck said in a statement released by the LAPD's Media Relations department. "His depiction of a professional and tough yet compassionate cop led to thousands of men and women applying to become LAPD officers, including me. Godspeed Martin, you will live forever in our hearts."
Milner was an accomplished film and TV actor who starred in the successful CBS series "Route 66" in the early 1960s before producer Jack Webb tapped him to star alongside Kent McCord in a new weekly show about the daily adventures of two LAPD beat cops. Milner played officer Pete Malloy.
"Adam-12" debuted on NBC in 1968 and ran until 1975. The 74-year-old McCord, who played Malloy's partner Jim Reed on "Adam-12", confirmed Milner's death on Monday, telling The Associated Press that the actor died in the La Costa neighborhood of Carlsbad.
"I had a long, long friendship with Marty and we remained friends up till the end, " McCord said, according to the AP. "He was one of the really, true great people of our industry with a long, distinguished career. Wonderful films, wonderful television shows, pioneering shows like `Route 66'. He was one of the great guys. I was lucky to have him in my life."
Milner was born Dec. 28, 1931 in Detroit, Mich. His father was a film distributor and his mother was a dancer. The family moved to Los Angeles when Milner was a boy, where he made his big-screen debut in 1947's "Life With Father." Other supporting roles followed in the 1940s and '50s alongside such stars as John Wayne, Orson Welles and Burt Lancaster.
Milner served a two-year stint in the Army in the early 1950s, producing training films and hosting a touring show based at Fort Ord, California. He married actress and dancer Judy Jones in 1957. The couple had four
Milner's first big TV hit, "Route 66", centered on a pair of men traveling the country in a Corvette, doing odd jobs and getting involved in people's lives. It was noteworthy for its on-location shooting and a jazzy score by Nelson Riddle.
He secured the role on "Adam-12" through his longtime friendship with Webb, who starred as Sgt. Joe Friday in the earlier TV classic "Dragnet", which also depicted a pair of fictional LAPD officers.
In the turbulent era of the late 1960s and early '70s, Milner's cool-headed Malloy presented the police in a sympathetic light. Malloy and Reed often encountered strung-out or violent hippies on their police calls, with
Malloy tempering the emotions of the younger Reed.
Milner continued to appear on television after "Adam-12", guest starring on hits such as "Murder She Wrote", "MacGyver" and "Diagnosis Murder". He also starred in a prime-time series version of "The Swiss Family
Robinson" on ABC from 1975-76.
An avid fisherman, Milner hosted the syndicated radio show "Let's Talk Hook-Up", based in San Diego, after his acting days were over.