NY Times; Museum of Broadcast Communications

We’ve Lost an Actor Who Played a Popular Cop During the Late 1960s and Early 1970s. More Significantly, Prior to That He Starred in One of the Most Unique TV Series of All Time

Sep 8, 2015  •  Post A Comment

From 1968 through the 1974-’75 season, he played a police officer on a popular police drama – “Adam 12.” And from 1960 through 1964 he starred in one of the most unique TV shows ever, “Route 66.”

Martin Milner has died at age 83.

Notes The New York Times, Milner “died on Sunday at his home in Carlsbad, Calif….The cause was heart failure, his wife, Judy, said.”

On the popular “Adam 12,” Milner played police officer Pete Molloy.

But the far more significant show that he starred in, as far as TV history is concerned, was “Route 66,” a drama anthology that ran on CBS.

Writes Mark Alvey on the website of the Museum of Broadcast Communcations, “Its 1960 premiere launched two young drifters in a Corvette on an existential odyssey in which they encountered a myriad of loners, dreamers and outcasts in the small towns and big cities along U.S. Highway 66 and beyond.”

The series was shot on film and on-the-road.

Alvey adds, “‘Route 66’ took the anthology on the road, blending the dramaturgy and dramatic variety of the ‘Studio One’ school of TV drama with the independent filmmaking practices of the New Hollywood.

“‘Route 66’ was the brainchild of producer Herbert B. Leonard and writer Stirling Silliphant, the same creative team responsible for ‘Naked City.’ The two conceived the show as a vehicle for actor George Maharis, casting him as stormy Lower East Side orphan Buz Murdock, opposite Martin Milner as boyish, Yale-educated Tod Stiles. When Tod’s father dies, broke but for a Corvette, the two young men set out on the road looking for ‘a place to put down roots.’”

Alvey also explains, “Perhaps even more startling for the Hollywood-bound telefilm industry was the program’s radical location agenda. Buz and Tod’s cross-country search actually was shot across the country, in what Newsweek termed ‘the largest weekly mobile operation in TV history.’ Remarkably, by the end of its four-season run, the ‘Route 66’ production caravan had traveled to twenty-five states–as far from L.A. as Maine and Florida–as well as Toronto. The show’s stark black and white photography and spectacular locations provided a powerful backdrop to its downbeat stories, and yielded a photographic and geographical realism that has never been duplicated on American television.”

To read Alvey complete essay about “Route 66,” please click here, which will take you to the “Route 66” page of the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

Milner also had a key supporting role in one of the best movie dramas made in the 1950s, “Sweet Smell of Success.”

Route66-CBS-Publicity-PhotoMartin Milner, right, and George Maharis in an old CBS publicity still for “Route 66”



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