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Actor Martin Milner died Sunday at the age of 83. According to his IMDB page, he had 112 acting credits in film and television, a notable accomplishment in a field where so many consider themselves fortunate to earn even one. If I may speak for a generation of police officers — especially those who, like me, joined the LAPD in the 1980s — Milner will always be best known for his portrayal of Officer Pete Malloy on the television series Adam-12.
When Adam-12 first aired in 1968, Pete Malloy was the seasoned LAPD training officer for rookie officer Jim Reed, played by Kent McCord. Malloy was the tutor every young cop yearns to work with and aspires to become: patient, wise, and resourceful. The show ran until 1975 and, unlike the way things actually work in the LAPD, the two remained partners for the entire run of the show. I quickly learned that, on the real streets of Los Angeles, things didn’t always turn out as neatly as they did on Adam-12. Still, the show presented an ideal that most of us tried to achieve even as we often fell short of it.
Adam-12 was perhaps the first inspiration toward police work that drifted through the transom of my subconscious. I will always be grateful to those who had a hand in its production, but most especially to Martin Milner, who, as Pete Malloy, was the cop I tried to be.