Adam-12 was an immensely popular procedural police drama that ran for seven sevens premiering on NBC on September 21, 1968, and concluding after airing 174 episodes on May 20, 1975. It was applauded by critics and audiences alike for being a relatively realistic depiction of police work.
Adam-12’s plot revolved around two LAPD officers, Pete Malloy played by Martin Milner, and Jim Reed played by Kent McCord. Throughout the series, viewers watched as these two uniformed heroes did their best to protect and serve the good people of Los Angeles.
Every episode covered the events of one shift as Pete and Jim patrolled the streets of LA in their unit, 1-Adam-12.
The series was the creation of Dragnet creator Jack Webb and Robert A. Cinadar, who would later help create Emergency! It’s also often credited with introducing police procedures and vernacular to the American public.
If you consider yourself a fan of this trailblazing series, this is one video you won’t want to miss. Keep watching to learn several mind-blowing details you probably never noticed while watching Adam-12.
Adam Wasn’t A Character
Okay, first things first. Anyone that’s familiar with the show probably already knows this one but let’s go ahead and get it out of the way. The word ‘Adam’ was a reference to a bit of cop slang for a two-man patrol car. The one that proceeded it represented the area of the division that the show’s leads were stationed in. And as far as the 12, that stood for the area in which they patrolled.
Technically speaking, since the unit was seen working in the Rampart Division, it’s call sign would have actually been 2-Adam-12. One was the code for downtown LA’s Central Division. And as far as filming went, the majority of the show was actually shot in the San Fernando Valley area.
Kent McCord Was A Perfect Casting Choice
Kent played Probationary Officer Jim Reed. His character was depicted as being a recent police academy graduate who was partnered up with veteran cop, Officer Pete Malloy.
A year before Adam-12 premiered on CBS, McCord had played the same character on a handful of episodes of Dragnet. In time, Jim Reed was phased out of Dragnet and became an exclusive character on Adam-12.
After Adam-12, McCord enjoyed an active acting career until he finally retired from show business following his appearance in the HBO sketch comedy series Run Ronnie Run in 2002. Some of his most notable credits include roles in offerings like Baa Baa Black Sheep, Return of the Living Dead 3, Seaquest DSV, and JAG. He was also a semi-regular addition to cast of the science fiction series, Farscape.
Jack Webb Used An Alias
Although Jack Webb was already well-known for his work on Dragnet, when developing the pilot for Adam-12. Which he wrote and directed, he used the pseudonym John Randolph. After Adam-12, Webb would go on to make shows like Emergency and Hec Ramsey.
Webb, who passed away in 1982 after having a massive heart attack, was a life-long lover of jazz music. He had a massive collection of more than 6,000 jazz records and would even eventually put out a few of his own.
Webb’s albums like 1958s You’re My Girl and 1988s Golden Throats volume 1, have since gone to reach cult status. His deadpan delivery of ‘Try a Little Tenderness’ is particularly noteworthy.
The Salamander Lady
One of the first memorable moments involving Reed and Malloy as partner’s was a pretty wonky situation. When a salamander seemingly managed to escape from a shoebox in a woman’s car; after letting out a blood-curdling screech, she became convinced that the amphibian was crawling all over her body. Of course, it wasn’t. The little fella’ was in his shoebox the whole time.
Ann Morgan Guilbert played as salamander-adverse woman. You might remember her as Mille Helper on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Later on, she played Fran Drescher’s spunky grandmother Yetta Rosenberg on CBS’ The Nanny.
The Series Employed A Real-Life LAPD Dispatcher
When creating the series, Jack Webb wanted to deliver as realistic of a depiction of police life as possible. To add to the show’s authenticity, he hired the services of Shaaron Claridge. A real-world dispatcher at the Van Nuys Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, to provide the voice for Adam-12’s dispatcher.
Claridge only ever made one on-screen appearance in an episode during the fifth season. She went on to do voice work on other television series. Of note, Webb once hire her again to provide the dispatcher voice on Emergency in 1972. In 1983, she played an LAPD dispatcher once again in the suspense film Blue Thunder.
Claridge passed away of natural causes at 82 on September 15, 2021.
Another Layer of Authenticity
Webb really was a stickler about keeping his shows as realistic as possible. On Adam-12, Pete Malloy’s Los Angeles Police Department badge number was #744, while Jim Reed’s was #2430. Seeing how badge numbers are normally re-issued when an office retires. It is a permanent numbers are known as ‘Serial Numbers’ are also issued.
If you were watching Adam-12 closely, you might have noticed that Reed’s serial number was #13985, which would have corresponded to police academy grads from the year 1968. According to the show’s lore, Reed actually joined the LAPD that year. Malloy’s serial number, just in case you were wondering, was #10743.
One Thing That Wasn’t Quite Authentic
Aside from the pilot, the police vehicles seen in Adam-12 weren’t actually LAPD cars. The cruisers featured on the show bought by Universal from Chrysler and American Motors. The prop department then tweaked the cars to closely resemble real LAPD vehicles. A few of the fake police cars seen on the program included a Plymouth Satelite, three Plymouth Belvederes, and two AMC Matadors.
In the pilot episode, Adam-12’s producers used a 1967 Plymouth Belvedere police car that was loaned to the studio by the Los Angeles Police Department.
The Criminal Riding Shotgun In The Car Chase Was Actually A Legendary Florida Gators Sports Star
After their unit was called to a liquor store following reports received of a possible active robbery; Reed and Malloy then chased after a gorgeous old Buick. It was a fantastic chase sequence – maybe even the most thrilling one that audiences had yet seen on TV at the time. Our two heroes splashed through the LA River years before similar chases would take place there in films like Terminator 2 and Grease.
When the Buick slammed into a channel, Reed quickly put the perp in cuffs. The crook, although uncreditted for his appearance; played by none other than Dale Van Sickel. A man that’s famous for being the first Florida Gator to be inducted into the prestigious College Football Hall of Fame.
Previously, Van Sickel worked as a Hollywood stuntman in 1933 Marx Brother’s film Duck Soup.
Sadly, just a few years after making his appearance on Adam-12; Van Sickel died in 1977 after sustaining injuries while on the set of what probably was Don Knott’s No Deposit, No Return. He received his lethal injuries while filming a stunt scene. The car he was in skid into an abutment leaving him with severe brain damage that ultimately proved to be fatal. Van Sickel was 69 years old when he passed away.
How Close-Up Shots Were Filmed
Malloy and Reed feature in a ton of close-ups while patrolling around town in their slick ride. After a scene showed a reflection of the camera and crew that were towing their car, the producers decided to scrap the windshield so it wouldn’t happen again.
A side effect of this decision, however, Malloy and Reed’s hair could then be see blowing into the wind. To remedy this little issue, a see-through shield constructed to encase the front of the vehicle and the camera.
McCord’s Blue Corvette Made Cameos In Other Shows
Kent’s shiny sports car was the very same make and model of the vehicle that Martin Milner cruised around in when he played Tod Stiles in 1960s dramatic television series Route 66.
Interestingly, Martin Milner’s son, Andrew Milner, can be seen riding a mini-bike while serving as Johnny Whitaker’s stunt double in the Adam-12 episode “Northeast Division”.
What the Medallions On Reed And Malloy’s Uniforms Represented
According to the Los Angeles Police Department’s training materials, these small, metal emblems were related to Reed and Malloy’s shooting skills. Malloy’s golden medallion which featured two bars, denoted and rated as a very capable, expert shot. Likewise, Reed’s silver one with the single bar meant that he was a sharpshooter.
In an episode entitled ‘Suspended’, aired in 1973, Reed can be seen practicing at a Los Angeles shooting range. In real life, LAPD officer shooting abilities are put to the test once every other year.
Jim Reed Was Close Friends With His On-Screen Wife
In the last season of Adam-12, Reed’s wife, Jean, made an appearance in a few episodes. The character play by a woman named Kristin Harmon. The actress married in real life to actor and singer Ricky Nelson, who happened to be one of Kent McCord’s best buddies. Besides acting, Harmon was also an author as well as a painter.
Sadly, Harmon, credited as Kristin Nelson on Adam-12, died at 72 on May 1, 2018.
Adam-12 was particularly famous for it’s authentic depiction of criminals and suspects and their victims. For the first couple seasons of the program, Malloy and Reed regularly relied upon the intel provided by an informant that went by the name TJ play by late-great Robert Donner.
As you might recall, Donner was quite the prolific actor who amassed an impressive number of credits in films and television series throughout his four decade career in show business. A few of his most noteworthy credits include parts in offerings such as Cool Hand Luke, Mork & Mindy, and Eight Is Enough. Donner died on June 8, 2006.
Several other big-name stars that made guest appearances on the show included Tony Dow, Jodie Foster, Mark Harmon, Frank Sinatra Jr, Kevin Tighe, and the Bionic Woman herself, Lindsay Wagner.
Adam-12 was one of those rare shows that’s still just as entertaining to watch today as it was when it first aired. Inevitably, it’s going to receive the reboot treatment someday. It seems like Hollywood has all but given up on originality.
Back in 1989, a series called The New Adam-12 hit the airwaves. Hoping to cash in on the original series enduring appeal, however, it canceled two years later in 1991. Considering how shows like Magnum PI and Hawaii Five-O have been remade in recent years, it’s very likely that we’ll soon see a new incarnation of Adam-12.
Would you watch an Adam-12 reboot series if it were made? And who do you think would best play officers Reed and Malloy if a new series did materialize? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
And before you move on to watching another one of our facts-packed videos, take a moment to show us a little support by giving this one a like and subscribing to the Facts Verse channel if you haven’t already.
As always, thanks for watching. We’ll see you soon with more videos covering some of your favorite Hollywood stars, films, and television series.