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Martin Sam Milner (born December 28, 1931) is an American actor best known for his performances in two popular television series, Adam-12 and Route 66.
He has also appeared in other television series, numerous films, radio dramas, a Broadway play, and even a radio fishing show.
The son of a film distributor, Sam Gordon Milner, and a dancer with the Paramount Theater circuit, Mildred E. "Jerre" Milner (Martin), Martin Sam Milner was born in Detroit, Michigan. The family left Detroit when he was a baby, moving frequently before settling in Seattle by the time he was 9. It was in Seattle that he became interested in acting, first in school, and then in a children's theater group at the Cornish Playhouse. When he was 14, his family moved to Los Angeles. His parents hired an acting coach and then an agent for him. He had his first screen test and began his film career. His debut was in the widely acclaimed 1947 film Life With Father, playing "John Day," the second oldest son of "Clarence Day" (played by William Powell). Not two weeks after filming for Life With Father ended in August 1946, Milner came down with polio. He successfully recovered within a year and had bit parts in two more films before graduating from North Hollywood High School in 1949. He immediately landed a minor role in the film Sands of Iwo Jima starring John Wayne. It was the first of several war films in which he would have both minor and major roles in the 1950s. It was on the set of Halls of Montezuma in 1950 that he met and befriended actor Jack Webb. Soon thereafter, he began intermittent work on Webb's radio series Dragnet. Read Full Bio >>
Milner juggled school and career, taking classes at San Fernando Valley State College, and then attending the University of Southern California for a year (where he joined the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity), before dropping out to concentrate on acting in the Fall 1950. He made his first television appearance in 1950 as a guest star on The Lone Ranger. That same year, he began a recurring role as "Drexel Potter" on the television sit-com The Stu Erwin Show (aka Trouble With Father).
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.
After his military service ended, Milner became a regular on two television sit-coms, as "Jimmy Clark" on The Stu Erwin Show and as "Don Marshall" on The Life of Riley. He made guest appearances on numerous television shows and acted in films, the most notable of which were: The Long Gray Line (1955), Pete Kelly's Blues (1955), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Marjorie Morningstar (1958), Too Much, Too Soon (1958), and Compulsion (1959).
Route 66 publicity still, circa 1960
Although his later series, Adam-12, is probably better remembered in the US today, Milner is best-known around the world for his starring role as Tod Stiles in the iconic CBS television series, Route 66 (1960 to 1964), created by Stirling Silliphant. Like Adam-12, Route 66 was essentially about two regular guys in a car.
After the sudden death of his father left him unexpectedly penniless, Tod wandered the United States with his friend Buz Murdock (George Maharis) in Tod's Chevrolet Corvette, taking a variety of jobs and getting involved in other people's problems. Maharis was eventually replaced by Glenn Corbett as Linc Case, but Milner starred throughout the show's run. Since the show was filmed almost entirely on location, Milner spent nearly four years traveling the country in reality, sometimes bringing his wife and children along.
Years before Adam-12, Milner appeared in numerous episodes of both the radio and television versions of the seminal Jack Webb series Dragnet. (Milner had also worked with Webb in the 1950 film Halls of Montezuma and the 1955 film Pete Kelly's Blues.) This ongoing working relationship eventually led to the role for which Milner is best known.
In 1968, Milner returned to television as seasoned LAPD uniform patrol Officer Peter Joseph "Pete" Malloy in the Jack Webb-produced police drama, Adam-12. His co-star Kent McCord played his partner, rookie Officer Jim Reed. The popular NBC series ran from 1968 to 1975. Like Webb's Dragnet, it was based on real Los Angeles police procedures and cases, and was hailed for its realistic, positive portrayal of ordinary police officers.
Milner was Webb's hands-down choice for "cop behind the wheel" Pete Malloy, in part because his relative youth and prior acting credits, and also (in Milner's words) because of his on-camera driving experience from his days on Route 66.
Milner as Kahuna in the ABC television series Gidget, 1965.
In 1965, Milner made a guest appearance as Kahuna, a surfer, in the short-lived ABC television series, Gidget starring Sally Field.
Just before Adam-12, Milner starred on Broadway in The Ninety Day Mistress. This might have interfered with the start of Milner's involvement in the television production, but fortunately the play lasted considerably less than 90 days, opening and closing in November 1967.
After Adam-12 Martin Milner starred as Karl Robinson in a television series version of The Swiss Family Robinson (1975 – 1976), produced by Irwin Allen. Most of his other work since then has been as a television guest star, most notably in MacGyver (as James MacGyver, MacGyver's father), Life Goes On and RoboCop: The Series.
Milner also has the distinction of having portrayed the victim in the very first murder that Columbo had to solve when the series premiered on the NBC Mystery Movie series. Martin Milner re-teamed with Kent McCord, his co-star from "Adam-12", in the cable TV-movie Nashville Beat (1990), originally shown on the now-defunct The Nashville Network. The story partly written by Kent McCord had Kent McCord as an LAPD detective who teams up with his old partner, Martin Milner, in Nashville, Tennessee. Martin Milner also played Harris Cassidy in five episodes of the 1992 television series Life Goes On.
In May 1956, he met singer and actress Judith Bess "Judy" Jones at a Hollywood dinner party, and asked for her phone number. The couple were married in February 1957. They had four children together, Amy (1958-2004), Molly (b. 1961), Stuart (b. 1962), and Andrew (b. 1964).
During the filming of Route 66, Milner became concerned about his lack of time spent at home with his young family. He outfitted a Chevrolet Greenbriar wagon for himself, his wife Judy, his young children (Andrew was not yet born), the family housekeeper and the family dog, so that he could have his home life on the road, and so that his children would have the presence of their father. He was relatively unconcerned about the effect of this nomadic life on Molly and Stuart, who were too young to notice much difference. As for his eldest, Amy, Milner felt that the travel would enhance her ability to make friends wherever she went.
By contrast, Adam-12 years later involved no travel at all. Milner once joked that the show "is shot on various locations around North Hollywood." Two of his children, Andrew and Amy, each appeared in an episode of the series.
"Marty" Milner has a passion for fishing, and has traveled all over the world pursuing his hobby. From 1993 to 2004 he was co-host of "Let's Talk Hook-up", a radio talk show about fishing based in the San Diego area. His health eventually led him to retire from the radio show, but not from the fishing. He still resides in Southern California with his family. << Less Bio