Friday, December 28, 2012

Milestone for Milner

Actor Martin Milner, who portrayed peripatetic young Tod Stiles in the TV series Route 66, before teaming up with Kent McCord in the 1968-1975 cop drama Adam-12, turns 81 years old today.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, on this date in 1931, Milner lived part of his boyhood in Seattle, where he first took up acting. He subsequently moved with his family to Los Angeles, and in 1947 had his screen debut in Life with Father. His first TV role was in a 1950 episode of The Lone Ranger. Milner met actor (later director and producer) Jack Webb--who would cast him in Adam-12--in 1950 on the set of a Richard Widmark/Jack Palance World War II picture called Halls of Montezuma.

But military service interrupted his acting career after he celebrated his 21st birthday. Wikipedia explains,
In 1952, Milner was drafted into the U.S. Army. In Special Services at Fort Ord on California's Monterey Bay peninsula, he directed training films and, with fellow actor/soldier David Janssen, emceed and performed in skits to entertain the soldiers. Milner and Janssen encouraged fellow soldier Clint Eastwood to pursue an acting career when his time in the Army ended. While in the Army, Milner continued working for Jack Webb, playing “Officer Bill Lockwood” (briefly the partner of “Sgt. Friday”) and other characters on the Dragnet radio series on weekends. He also appeared on six episodes of Webb’s Dragnet television series between 1952 and 1955.
In addition to his performances on Route 66 and Adam-12, Milner starred (with a very young Helen Hunt) in the short-lived Irwin Allen small-screen series Swiss Family Robinson. He also did turns on Felony Squad, Police Story, and Murder, She Wrote. I remember Milner from the 1974 disaster teleflick Hurricane, in which he played a courageous pilot taking on a brutal storm, and he holds the distinction of having been the first murder victim in the regular run of Peter Falk’s Columbo, playing a successful mystery novelist in the September 15, 1971, episode, “Murder by the Book.”

Both IMDb and Wikipedia state that Milner’s final acting job was in a 1997 episode of Diagnosis: Murder titled “Murder Blues,” with him playing an LAPD detective. However, he co-hosted Let’s Talk Hook-up, a San Diego, California-based radio talk show about the wonders of fishing (one of his passions), from 1993 to 2004.

I hope that wherever Martin Milner is on this day at the very tail end of 2012, he’s enjoying the hell out of his retirement.

(Hat tip to Frederick Zackel.)


Winifred said...

I also wish him a Happy Birthday. He's one of an amazing era of actors who made my teenage telly viewing years so enjoyable. As you mention David Janssen was another along with Clint Eastwood, James Garner, George Maharis, Michael Landon, Jack Lord, George Peppard, Pete Falk - the list is endless. Not sure there'll be such a list for our children to fondly remember. Thankfully Martin Milner is still with us & hopefully enjoying his birthday & many more to come.

Lee Goldberg said...

I co-wrote that episode of DIAGNOSIS MURDER with William Rabkin. It was such a pleasure working with Milner, who had lots of great stories to tell about working on ADAM-12 and ROUTE 66.

Sadly, DM has been the "last role" for many actors, including Pernell Roberts and Mary Frann.