ADAM 12 is BACK! E-mail
Written by Barbara A. Schwartz   

Adam-12 was a wildly popular television program over 40 years ago and its realistic depiction of two officers working the beat earned the respect of real cops everywhere. But what most people don't know is that the show almost didn't survive past the first season. NBC had given the executive producer Jack Webb an ultimatum - keep Dragnet or Adam-12. Not both.Webb decided to hang up Joe Friday's detective badge in favor of the beat cops. Actor Kent McCord portrayed Officer Jim Reed on Adam-12 for seven seasons and feels like he walked a mile in an officer's shoes. McCord realizes "as a police officer, you are there when the last thing they want to see is a cop and never there quick enough when they've called for help." To make the show a hit, McCord remembers, "we had to capture the audience who didn't like the police.

 

"Not long after the show started, officers began noticing that people were approaching them differently. Adam-12 allowed the public to see the police as human beings," McCord noted. He credits Bob Cinader, who created Adam-12 along with Jack Webb, for the show's realism. Cinader witnessed the aftermath of a rookie's murder during a ride-along with the LAPD. The officers impressed Cinader with their professionalism as they continued to patrol in spite of their intense grief.

Cinader included that experience in a pitch letter to network advertisers which eventually sold the show. The ride-along also became the theme of the pilot and first season episode designated as "Log 91" on the DVD. Cinader championed Adam-12's format of handling multiple calls for service punctuated by in-car dialogue between partners which required filming inside a patrol car that was moving through actual Los Angeles traffic. The director, sound tech, and cinematographer sat on a station wagon's rear-facing third seat overseeing a towed patrol car with lights and cameras attached to a bar over the car's hood.

Script supervisor Cynnie Troup hid in the back of the patrol car, communicating with the director via headphones. She read lines to cue McCord's radio traffic. Post-production magic added the dispatcher's famous voice. The quest for realism required the actors to receive specialized training. McCord, and Martin Milner, who played Pete Malloy, studied defensive tactics and firearms at LAPD's Police Academy. The actors and scriptwriters went on ride-alongs. That included writer Stephen J. Cannell. Cannell didn't set out to write cop TV.

"After the third season, Jack wasn't happy with the scripts," Cannell explained. "So they started a competition to find new writers." Struggling to get noticed, Cannell entered and won the competition. He impressed Webb with his ability to produce top-notch scripts in record time. Cannell would go on to write individual episodes as well as serve as story editor for two seasons. According to McCord, Steve came on board and nailed what the show was about. "He understood Cinader's vision and improved the in-car banter between Reed and Malloy."

Cannell recalled that ride-alongs created difficulty for the writers. "Jack wanted the rule book version of police work versus the street version," he said. The LAPD assigned sergeants to each of the show's writers to answer questions and approve the final scripts. Sergeants also presided over the filming as technical advisors. "They would write notes in the margins and send the script back to us," Cannell said.

"Every time we got out of the car, or approached a suspect, the sergeant told us tactically what we should be doing," McCord said. McCord and Milner offered script suggestions based on their ride-along experiences and what they thought the characters would say and do. Officers from across the country mailed in stories. "I always picked one or two for secondary story lines," Cannell said. If used, the show paid the officer $100, which was a lot of money for a story line in the 1970's. During the era when the show aired from 1968 to 1975, LAPD officers were required to wear their hats on patrol and in their police cars.

The actors tried wearing the uniform hats in the car, but the shiny brims reflected the camera lights. To solve the problem, in the first episode, Malloy told Reed, then a rookie, "Hats in the back. These roofs are too low." This change was the only dramatic license Adam-12 took throughout the series.

McCord said the following about Milner who did the majority of the driving during the show: "Marty was a good driver. He never missed hitting his marks." In "Child Stealer," which aired in the second season, they chased a kidnapper's car over railroad tracks. Milner asked, "Do we need blocks to clear this?" He was told not to worry. "We tore the bottom of the car out," McCord said.

After being blamed for the damage, a very pissed Milner said, "Fine, next time, hire a stunt driver to do this stuff." Citizens often mistook the actors for officers since the show used vehicles identical to the LAPD fleet at the time. "It happened a lot when we were by ourselves," McCord recalled. "We'd be around the corner and a couple of blocks away waiting to drive into a scene. Someone would come running up looking for an officer.

We had to explain we were pretend cops." One time when they were filming on a skid row street with a camera mounted inside the car where it couldn't be seen, McCord jumped out of the car, drew his gun, and pursued an actor portraying an armed robber - "Once A Junkie/Season Two." "Citizens walking down the street hit the deck," McCord recalled. "I yelled, 'cut,' and asked if anyone had told these people this was make believe? I was running down the street in uniform with a gun drawn thinking somebody's liable to take a bead on me."

In McCord's favorite episode - "It All Happened So Fast/First Season" designated as "Log 33" on the DVD - Reed shoots a teenager and endures the subsequent investigation and media scrutiny. "It showed the emotions of taking a life and how all of a sudden, on a quiet night, an officer can be in a life or death situation," McCord said. Airing forty years ago, the episode remains one of the most realistic television portrayals of an officer-involved shooting. In a second season episode - "Good Cop: Handle with Care" - two men with a police radio follow Malloy and Reed from call to call.

The men try to provoke a confrontation, snap photos that they provide to the media, and launch an excessive force complaint against the officers. This episode aired in 1969, proving not much has changed in the past forty years for the officer working the beat. "I use what I learned during Adam-12 every day," Cannell said.

He later went on to form his own production company creating The Rockford Files, The A-Team, Wiseguy, 21 Jump Street, and other hit shows. Cannell now pens novels. His latest, The Pallbearers, features LAPD detective Shane Scully. The Prostitute's Ball is scheduled to hit bookstores in October. "Unlike Reed and Malloy," Cannell says, "Scully skates on the edge and is willing to take the heat." Cannell's movie version of The A-Team premiered in theaters this past summer.

During book tours, Cannell is often asked if he was a cop. He usually replies, "That's just my time with Adam-12 showing.'" Cannell, Milner, and McCord are all proud that Adam-12 motivated officers to put on the uniform and do the job. McCord donned a uniform for real as a reserve officer for the Los Angeles School Police Department wearing the same badge number he wore in the show. He was a frequent speaker at assemblies and in classrooms always working to create a bridge between kids and cops.

"The goal of the reserve unit is to teach kids that officers were not the enemy and were there to protect and help them," McCord, (above right.) Kent retired at the rank of lieutenant. McCord served and protected his fellow actors during his entire career by working for the Screen Actors Guild, where he served several terms as vice president. Both Milner and McCord appeared on Dragnet prior to Webb casting them on Adam-12 - Milner on radio and McCord in the TV version. McCord said, "I was the rookie who Jack gave his 'What is a Cop' speech in the episode, 'The Big Interrogation.'" The first season of Dragnet (1967) is now available on DVD.

McCord appeared in several of Cannell's productions. He then went from cops to sci-fi appearing in SeaQuestDSV, Farscape, Galactica 1980 and Airplane II. McCord and Milner remain close friends. They paired up again as cops in an episode of Diagnosis Murder and a TV-movie Nashville Beat which McCord created and produced. Recently, McCord has recorded voice-overs for commercials including Gander Mountain and Home Depot. Milner acted in the Swiss Family Robinson TV series, on stage, and hosted a radio call-in fishing show.

Retired, he lives in San Diego. McCord and Cannell get together often. "The show meant a lot to Kent," Cannell said. McCord remembers filming in a park when two LAPD officers stopped and said, "You guys are making it very hard on us." When asked what they meant, the officers answered, "You guys are hard to live up to." McCord and Milner responded, "Good." The actors are proud of the standard Adam-12 set. Outgoing LAPD Chief William Bratton honored McCord for his forty years of volunteer service to the department. Bratton noted that McCord had earned the trust of a "brother in blue" and thanked him for his "positive worldwide image of one of us, a Los Angeles Police officer just working the beat."

1-Adam-12 never existed as a beat in LAPD. When current LAPD Chief Charlie Beck served as Central Division captain, he decided to change that. He instituted the "Adam-12 Award" which honored productive officers by allowing them to ride Unit 1-A-12. The officer could pick and choose which calls to check by on without having to do any paperwork.

Beck invited McCord to ride-along with 1-A-12, finally providing McCord the opportunity to say, "One-Adam-Twelve, Roger" on the real LAPD airwaves. The first five seasons of Adam-12 are available on DVD and can be purchased at leading electronics retailers as well as online at Amazon, Borders, Best Buy, and the NBC Universal store.

Barbara A. Schwartz writes  exclusively about the brave officers of law enforcement from her home in Houston, Texas. Like many officers, "Adam-12" inspired her interest in law enforcement. Special thanks to Kent McCord and Bay Area Imaging in Webster, Texas for the assist with the photographs


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Comments (19)Add Comment
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written by Deputy Darrin Ellis,Kings Co. Ca., October 06, 2010
Thank you for the article on Adam 12. Adam 12 inspired me to go into law enforcment. I watch episodes often.
Thanks RTV...
written by Jerry D, October 11, 2010
For bringing back Adam 12. I haven't seen these episodes in, well, forty years. I can watch reruns of Two and a Half Men anytime. I'd rather watch Officers Reed and Malloy instead. After forty years, they're "new" all over again.
retired police officer
written by Mike, October 21, 2010
I was in high school when Adam 12 came out. I had always wanted to be a police officer and the show encouraged me to check into it and pursue a police career, retiring after 28 years. The show, because of Jack Webb's insistence on it being by the real police rules, was used as training especially in smaller departments (including the one where I worked). Several of the things Reed and Malloy did were a foundation for current officer's safety. Back then, Adam 12 was the best way for us to see and use things which then evolved into the better ideas for the police and citizens. I have been buying the show DVDs as they come out and enjoy remembering and watching "the old days". Thanks McCord, Milner, and Webb.
...
written by julie north, December 04, 2010
awesome im a true martin sam milner fan!!!!! dont believe me go to facebook and go to martin milner fans....im there....i love martin sam milner today yesterday and tomorrow always!!!!!! love ya pete!!!!
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written by julie north, December 04, 2010
HECK YA!!!!!!MARTIN SAM MILNER IS THE BOMB!!!!! I TRULY LOVE THAT MAN CHECK OUT FACEBOOK MARTIN MILNER FANS AND YOU WILL SEE ME AND MARTY!!!!! THIS IS AWESOME DUDE!!!! HI MARTIN....LOVE YA
Director of Training
written by Jim, December 07, 2010
Fantastic article Barb, I was a huge Adam 12 fan as a kid and martin milner played in a bunch of movies all the way back to the 40s with John Wayne.
Adam-12 best show ever!
written by Michael Hancock, December 27, 2010
I was ten when I watched Adam-12 on TV and because of it I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Fast forward...Shorty after retiring from the police Department I built a 1969 Adam-12 replica. Now it all has come full circle. Back where it all started. I do many car shows every year and a lot of people still remember Adam-12 and they still love the show. I stated the www.1adam12-1adam12.com website not only honor Kent McCord and Martin Milner but the LAPD as well.
...
written by MGN, June 24, 2011
As a kid, playing 1-Adam-12 was a great pastime in the backyard (even if the girl across the street played Malloy and I was Reed!). It's great to see the show again. I have recently wondered how both the actors were able to act so well as if they were peering through the car windows...but after reading the article by Barbara Shwartz...I see they actually were doing so! The article answered a lot of wondering questions...it was great.
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written by Bernie Boyer, April 19, 2012
I am 48 years old and still today i watch Adam 12.I remember when it was on tv as a kid.I loved them guys Mr.Milner and Mr.Mcord I never missed a show.
And i still love you all.It takes me back to my child hood.My only wish would be some day to meet Milner and Mcord.I know it will never happen but
thank you for the memories.Bernie Boyer Wilkes-Barre pa.
ADAM-12
written by Byron Hodges, May 04, 2012
I have always loved Jack Webb's productions. They are always factual. Igot to meet Kent McCord several years ago at collectables show in Dallas. He explained to me how they used the Sgt's station wagon for filming them in their ADAM-12 unit. Ism glad to have all7 seasons on DVD. The actors deserve all the residuals they can get. They earned them.

Byron hodges
Kent McCord
written by John, July 08, 2012
Kent McCord also appeared on one episode of Hardcastle and McCormick as a police officer near the end of the episode assisting both of the stars in making an arrest.
Thanks!
written by Paula Doyle, March 04, 2013
My son served with the Marines for two stints and when he came home he became a law enforcement officer, as did his sister and her husband.

My son's commander has called him Malloy for years. Last summer he was over and asked me, if I had ever heard the name Malloy and I told him no. I got on the internet and found all about Adam 12 and my son does fit Malloy, both in personality and management. I was only in the 7th grade when Adam 12 started, until last summer, I had never seen an episode. I now own all seven seasons; I'm getting ready to buy two more of the series for my two children, I'm tired of loaning them my version.

I never got to watch tv while I was in school. I was busy playing fast pitch softball, volleyball, basketball, skating, snow and water skiing and riding a bicycle. Thanks for the show.
Adam 12
written by Howard, March 24, 2013
I'm a huge fan of Adam 12, although I don't remember much when the show was
on originally, but live in an area that it is a regular feature. I'm a classic car nut, and I love looking in the background and car lots at the
cars, and gas prices. One episode, they get called to break up a fight at a
used car lot. The buyer of a car he wanted to return,shows a 1956 Chev. 210
2dr. in perfect shape,the price on the window, $695!Another episode where
Malloy chases a robber in his car through Griffith Park by himself, Reed stays behind to detain the other robber at the scene, and Malloy loses control,and crashes the car, now you know he's going to be saved, but I was
actually on the edge of my seat, and when Reed finally finds him, I felt so
relieved. Great show!
kent mccord photos
written by steve kiefer, November 09, 2013
can you tell mr. McCord that I have photos of him and Broderick Crawford also norman fell let me know I will send photos thank you steve
Thanks
written by Don Birdsong, December 05, 2013
I am a 35 year veteran serving as a Chief Deputy. I have always loves Adam-12, and will never forget the day I stepped into my first black and white. I look forward to coming home and watching the Adam-12 re-runs. Thanks to all those who made it the best cop show around. Now "Southland" is really good which probably means they will cancel. Again thanks to the brotherhood of blue!!
Thanks for the realism showed during your entire run
written by Rick Butera, December 26, 2013
I am a retired Deputy Constable. I made sure I never missed a episode of Adam 12 and after I would watch the show I would practice some of the things show. Little did I know that having watched the show and practicing some of the techniques would have helped me in my law enforcement career. Really proved a solid foundation for my academy training. Even tho there were advanced techniques and procedures some of the old moves show during the show were helpful. Sam and Kent greatly improved how people become more receptable to all our fellow officers and deputies. I still enjoy watching the re-runs to this very day and it really brings back memories. Thank you both for bringing out the human side of law enforcement. God Bless You for your talents and dedication in your acting.
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written by Joan Peach, March 01, 2014
My son is 14, and as part of his Civics lessons, we started to watch Adam 12, just on a lark, on Netflix. Well, he has since become a huge fan, watches an episode or two everyday. With all the trash thrown at kids today, I'm thrilled he has chosen to make Adam 12 his first choice, and wish you could convey to all involved with that program that kids STILL watch it. Malloy and Reed are great role models 40 years later! Joan Peach
proud to be police officer
written by l.r.boyd springfield lilinois, March 06, 2014
THANK YOU MR. MARTIN MILNER, MR. KENT MCCORD, I MET YOU AT A FUNC TION IN 1968 IN SPRINGFIELD ILLINOIS, IT WAS AT A GRAND OPENING FOR A NEW DEPT AT THE HERNDONS DEPT. STORE IN THE TOWN & COUNTRY MALL SHOPPING ENTER IN SPRINGFIELD ILLINOIS, MY MOTHER WAS STORE MANANGER, WHICH I BELIEVE GAVE ME TO MEET YOU GENTLEMEN GAVPREFERENTIA STATUS, AFTER YOU CUT THE RIBBON, YOU WERESHUFFLED OFF TO THE BACK OF THE STORE, MR.MCORD AN I WERE FACE TO FACE IN THE BACK STORAGE ROOM,RIGHT BEFORE THE LIMO WAS READY TO WISK THEM AWAY,MR.MCORD ASKED MY NAME, ITOLD HIM.HE THEN STATED AS HE WAS SIPPING ON A SPRITE, THAT I GOT HIM OUT OF POP MACHINE, YOU LOOK LIKE A VERY STOUT BOY, YOU,LL MAKE A GOOD COP, MR. MILNER SATANDING RIGHT THERE AGREED, AND JOKINGLY STATED WITH MR. MCORD REMEMBER HIS NAME, HE,LL GIVE US A RUN FOR OUR MONEY, EVEVRYONE IN THE AREA WAS LAUGHING, THEN ALL EXITED THE BUILDING, BUT NOT AFTER MR. MCORD GOT WITH ME AND SAID AS HE WHISPERD IN MY EAR , "DO IT YOU CAN DO IT" HE WAS RIGHT, AFTER HIGH SCHOOL I SERVED MY COUNTRY 6 YEARS IN THE U.S.M.C. ,THEN 30 YEARS AS A POLICE OFFICER WITH TWO DIIFFERENT ANGENCIES OBTAINING THE RANK AS CHIEF, YES IT MAY HAVE BEEN A SMALL DEPT, ME AND 12 OFFICERS, BUT A TIGHT RUN AND A WALK THE LINE LEGAL DEPT. BEEN RETIRED 7 YEARS AND MY GUYS ARE STILL CARRYING, MY CODE
Adam 12
written by maribel watson, April 29, 2014
I am 53 now and watching them and how the police force was back in the day, makes me wish there were more police officers out there that were as friendly as well as serious with there job and that would make people not be afraid of calling the police when needed or when they feel like there is something not right going on. I personally love Mr. Martin Milner and Mr. Kent Mccord. they really represented the cops well and they wore their uniforms so professionally. Oh yes and very cute too.... Mr. Milner had and has a very great smile.

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