Milner, Martin, SPC 3C

Deceased
 
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Last Rank
Specialist 3rd Class
Primary Unit
1952-1956, Army Garrison Fort Ord, CA
Service Years
1952 - 1956
Specialist 3rd Class


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Home State
Michigan
Michigan
Year of Birth
1931
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Diane Short (TWS Chief Admin) to remember Milner, Martin, SPC 3C.

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Home Town
Detroit
Last Address
Not Specified

Date of Passing
Sep 06, 2015
 
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Not Specified
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 Unit Assignments
Army Garrison Fort Ord, CA
  1952-1956, Army Garrison Fort Ord, CA
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Last Known Activity
1952 was a busy year. My Wife's Best Friend started filming in early April and Springfield Rifle started later that month. Milner had minor parts in both films. Battle Zone and Torpedo Alley both filmed in June/July. Milner had a major role in the former, a film about a Marine motion picture unit in the Korean War, and a bit part in the latter World War II film. The Captive City was released in April and Belles on Their Toes hit theaters in May. Milner also appeared in two television episodes of the show Dragnet (which had begun airing on television in December 1951): "The Big Speech" (February 28) and "The Big Trial" (April 24). 

In the Spring, however, his acting career was somewhat derailed when he was drafted into the Army and sent to work in the Special Services Division at Fort Ord, California, located on the Monterey Bay peninsula. Over the next two years, he directed 20 military training films at the fort, which served as a training facility for basic combat and advance infantry training at the time for troops being sent over to Korea. While at Fort Ord, Milner befriended another soldier in Special Services, David Janssen, who had also begun an acting career before being drafted. The two worked on weekly variety shows and plays at the fort's Central Service Club to entertain both the troops as well as local civic groups. Milner and Janssen also spent their off-duty time together, occasionally obtaining passes to drive to Los Angeles on weekends to visit their families and do their laundry ("The David Janssen Archive").
 
While in the Army, Milner supplemented his military income by continuing to perform alongside "Sgt. Friday" (Jack Webb) in the radio series Dragnet. He recalled in a 2001 Route 66 Magazine interview that two radio shows were taped every other Sunday. He would travel from Fort Ord to Los Angeles and tape two shows for about $112, which was close to a whole month's pay from the military. Milner played the role of Sergeant Friday's partner, "Officer Bill Lockwood," as well as other characters on the radio series. He could convincingly portray Friday's partner on the radio show, but his baby face relegated him to "the house male juvenile delinquent" roles on the television show. As he later put it, "Jack really saved my sanity then. The Army drove me crazy and Jack knew it... Not only did the work keep me from flipping out, but I needed the money. The Army was paying me a fast $104 a month" (TV Guide, August 4, 1973).
Dragnet Radio page

In January of 1953, Torpedo Alley and Last of the Comanches opened at theaters. Destination Gobi (which was mostly filmed in August 1952, but in which Milner had a substantial role as "Elwood Halsey") opened in March 1953 and was shown on base at Fort Ord. One of the many skits Special Services performed at the base was entitled "Wild Bill Hiccup" and featured both Milner and his buddy Janssen. It was performed on April 22, 1953, at the Central Service Club.
 
 
In addition to their regular entertainment duties, Milner and Janssen worked on a few of their own projects together. In a letter Janssen wrote home to his mother on July 8, 1953, he described how he and Milner had recorded a "disk jockey show" from which they hoped to make some money, and planned on recording a second show. On November 11, the pair were again performing in a skit for the troops at Fort Ord and sharing master of ceremony duties for the base's Armistice Day show ("The David Janssen Archive"). 

Because of military duty, Milner was only able to act in a few off-base productions which he could complete while on leave. In June, he made his third appearance on the Dragnet television series in the episode "The Big Market."  In the early Fall of 1953, he acted in Alfred Hitchcock's film Dial M for Murder in a bit part as a policeman. He appeared at the beginning of the film, just after the intermission, and at the end for only about 10-15 seconds each time. He only had one line which came at the post- intermission appearance, telling a small group of people gathered on a street corner to move along. It was another way to keep his hand in Hollywood despite military duty, and make a few extra bucks at the same time.

In January 1954, Milner appeared in the Schlitz Playhouse of Stars episode, "Rim of Violence."  In the Spring of 1954, the Army granted him leave for six weeks to participate in director John Ford's film about West Point, The Long Gray Line, in which Jack Webb had helped him land a part. Dial M for Murder came out in theaters in May. In August, Milner made his fourth appearance on the Dragnet television show in an episode entitled "The Big Producer" in which he played a 17-year-old high school student, "Steve Banner," accused of selling pornographic materials to minors.

He continued to spend leisure time with his buddy from Fort Ord, David Janssen. On August 29, he spent a weekend with Janssen and Janssen's mother at Big Bear Lake, an alpine vacation spot near Los Angeles. On October 16, he took another Sunday off at Big Bear Lake with Janssen and his family ("The David Janssen Archive").

After his discharge from the Army, Milner returned to his acting career full-time in the Fall of 1954. Along with a bit part in the film Mister Roberts, he found more regular work as "Jimmy Clark," the boyfriend and then husband of Stu Erwin's daughter Joyce, on The Stu Erwin Show television series (aka Trouble with Father) during the show's final season (1954-1955).
By 1955, the 6-foot-tall, 180-pound 23-year-old with a freckled complexion, sandy red hair, and hazel eyes had established himself as one of Hollywood's newest young stars. He lived in an apartment in North Hollywood with his mother and step-father (his mother had married Guglielmo "Bill" Cini, a jewelry designer, in 1954). He enjoyed skiing, golf, book collecting, and book binding in his leisure time.

In 1955, he appeared in four films at box offices: The Long Gray Line (as "Jim O'Carberry"), Mister Roberts, Francis in the Navy (as Rick), and Pete Kelly's Blues (as drummer "Joey Firestone").
 
He had a bit part in the film Mister Roberts as a shore patrol officer who told "Mister Roberts" (Henry Fonda) that his ship's crew was no longer allowed to take shore leave for its misbehavior. For the brief appearance, Milner took center stage as he depicted a laid-back, slow-talking Alabamian who went into a lengthy tirade about the misadventures of the crew of the U.S.S. Reluctant. The film was mostly directed by John Ford (who became ill half way through) and starred William Powell (from Life with Father) in his last film. Milner would later comment about the role, "I was just out of the Army, and I was happy to have a job. I had done a movie for John Ford prior to that [The Long Gray Line], and he cast me for the role... it was a good scene, and it helped my career" (Route 66 Magazine, Fall 2001).

In Francis in the Navy, Milner co-starred with his Fort Ord Army buddy, David Janssen, and another former Fort Ord soldier, Clint Eastwood, in a not-so-serious war film that included a talking mule. Eastwood had served at Fort Ord on the faculty as a swimming instructor and lifeguard at the pool. Special Services, as Milner would later recall, encompassed both the entertainers (like Milner and Janssen) and oversight of the sports programs and facilities, including the baseball team, the golf course, and the pool. Although Eastwood was therefore in Special Services, along with Milner and Janssen, he did not socialize with the two, though he may have been influenced by the two established actors to pursue an acting career after he was discharged (Route 66 Magazine, Fall 2001; "The David Janssen Archive").
 
In Pete Kelly's Blues, he played a hot-tempered drummer in a jazz band led by "Pete Kelly" (played by Jack Webb). When the band refused to get involved with organized crime, Milner's character verbally insulted the crime boss and then physically assaulted one of his men. The drummer was then shot down in an alley. Although Milner's character thus exited the film early, his performance was a memorable one.

Milner's 1955 television appearances included: The Schlitz Playhouse of Stars episode "The Schoolmarm" (February 11), the Dragnet episodes "The Big Key" (February 24) and "The Big Note" (May 5), and the comedic Halls of Ivy episode "Changing of Professors" (May 31). He also was performing as a regular cast member on the popular television series The Life of Riley, playing "Don Marshall," the boyfriend of "Babs Riley" in 1955.
 
1956 was a productive year for Milner. He continued in his regular cast role as "Don Marshall" on the television series The Life of Riley. On January 20, the episode "Bab's Wedding" was seen on television as Milner's character moved up a notch in the Riley family, becoming Riley's son-in-law.


In addition, he appeared in some substantive roles in three films: On the Threshold of Space, Screaming Eagles, and Pillars of the Sky. He also appeared in eight episodes of different television series: The Great Gildersleeve (February 9), TV Reader's Digest (May 7), The Charles Farrell Show (August 27), West Point Story (October 5), Telephone Time (October 14), Science Fiction Theatre (November 9), Crossroads (November 16), and Navy Log (December 5).

He landed a part as one of the Earp brothers in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and began filming for that in the Spring. Though his part in O.K. Corral was brief, Milner, 24, superbly portrayed the handsome, likable 18-year-old lawman who was gunned down in the street, prompting the showdown between "Wyatt Earp" (played by Burt Lancaster), his two remaining brothers, and "Doc Holiday" (played by Kirk Douglas), and the Clanton gang. As in many other appearances, Milner convincingly portrayed characters younger than his actual age.
 
 
In the Fall, he began filming Man Afraid, and he ended the year 1956 by landing an important role in Sweet Smell of Success, which started filming in November. Burt Lancaster, co-star in Sweet Smell of Success and partner in its producing company, Hecht-Lancaster Productions, recommended Milner for the romantic lead role opposite newcomer Susan Harrison in the film.
   
Other Comments:
    BIOGRAPHY

    1931-1945: Being a Kid, Weathering a Storm...

    Martin Sam Milner was born in Detroit, Michigan, on December 28, 1931. He was the only child of Sam Gordon Milner, a construction worker at the time, and Mildred E. "Jerre" Milner (Martin), a dancer with the Paramount Theater circuit. While Milner recalled that he was very close to his father, he remembers his mother as the disciplinarian in the household. When he was just 6 months old, his parents moved from Detroit to Cleveland. He would live in other cities, including Denver and San Francisco, as his dad looked for work. Employment during the Great Depression was hard to find, so Martin's father (estranged from his own dad, a wealthy Texan discontent with his son's marriage) moved frequently to find work, eventually becoming an advertising space salesman for a national magazine. Martin would later refer to his childhood as "one long, violent storm" during which good-paying jobs and financial security for his father were hard to come by.

    Milner would later recall the frequent moves during his childhood and the impact they made upon him, "If you move around a lot, even as I did every few years, you just have to leave your old friends and make new friends, so you get in the habit. Gee, I can remember when I was a kid, moving. While the movers would be putting the stuff in the house, I'd be wandering up the street saying 'Hi, my name is Martin Milner and we're moving in. I'd like to be your friend'" (Silver Screen, February 1963).

    By the time Martin was 9, the family lived in Seattle, where he got his first job, watering lawns for an apartment house next-door to his home. He soon moved up to being a stock boy, an office boy, and a box boy in a supermarket. At the age of 10, he became enamored with studying drama and theater in elementary school. At the age of 11, he directed an abbreviated performance of "Robin Hood."  Soon afterwards, his mother enrolled him in an after-school children's theater group, the Cornish Players, and he started performing in plays at the Cornish Playhouse. By the age of 12, he had written and produced a couple of school plays and thought he had found his life's ambition in being a director. However, when he had to take over for one of his actors in an emergency, he found an even greater love for acting. The latter would prove to be an ambition which he would fulfill successfully over the course of the next seven decades.


    1946-1948: From "The Schnook" to "John Day"...

    Martin was 14 when the family relocated to Los Angeles, where his father was now working as a film executive for Eagle-Lion. He enrolled at North Hollywood High School. His family's financial situation had improved, so at his request, his parents acquired an acting coach to work with him after school two days a week. Next, his father got him an agent, Stuart Stewart, to help him pursue an acting career (Stewart worked with Milner for over twenty years, and Milner named his first son after him).

    One of Milner's new friends in Los Angeles was the nephew of Walt Disney who would distinguish himself in creating Disney animation. Roy E. Disney recalled in an interview with Pomona College Magazine (Summer 2000) that as a youth he had shot 16mm movies of neighborhood kids. One such movie was entitled "The Schnook Who Was a Thief" and the star was none other than Martin Milner dressed as a sheik!  As to the quality of the movie, Roy said, "It was pretty stupid." But, it was probably a lot of fun for the two teenagers, and was definitely starting them both on the right career paths.

    Milner had his first real screen test and landed his first film role as the second oldest son, "John Day," in the big screen production Life with Father. He appeared with lines throughout the film as he convincingly responded to one scenario after another in the red-headed household of "Clarence Day" (played by William Powell). Because of his natural red hair, Milner was the only cast member in the Day family who didn't have to get his hair dyed red. Filming took more than three months, however, and the 14-year-old's rapid growth during that span left the film's wardrobe department in fits as they tried to keep up with him. From the beginning to the end of the film (April to August 1946), Milner grew three inches (Selected Film Criticism, 1941-1950). Wardrobe was not the only department the young Milner frustrated. He himself recalled that he frequently held up production because he would be off boxing with Mushie Callahan (the ex-middle weight boxer who ran the gym at Warner Brothers studios) or playing ball between scenes. As he would later confess, "I'd sweat all my make-up off and hold up the production twenty minutes. I was a kid. I didn't have the discipline. If they'd give me two hours for lunch, I'd take off and play baseball. I'd give 'em fits, I guess" (TV Picture Life, December 1972).
    Life with Father screenshots

    When filming of Life with Father was completed, Milner was looking forward to returning to his school friends. Four months working on the film, as he later recalled, "was an awfully long time when you're a kid. I was very bored by the end of it and was eager to get back to school and my friends" (Photoplay Magazine, February 1973). His return to normalcy lasted briefly. Just over a week after the filming of Life with Father had ended in August 1946, 14-year-old Milner contracted polio. He later described the terror he experienced when the disease struck, "One day, I was laughing, jumping and running. The next day, I was flat on my back and wondering if I'd ever walk again. I thought the world had come to an end. I couldn't move" (TV Radio Mirror, August 1961). He remained bed-ridden, in a 3-month-long battle with the painful, crippling disease. Following an additional 6 months of intensive physical therapy, whirlpool baths, and massages (known as the "Sr. Kenny method" of treatment), he was recovered completely enough to soon learn to drive the "Model A" he earned from playing his first movie role.

    He attended the opening of Life with Father in August 1947 with his mother and cast members. The film and its entire cast received rave reviews (based on its own 1947 review, the New York Times in 2004 listed the film in its book entitled New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made). By September 1947, the high school junior was at work for a week on the set of the film Wreck of the Hesperus in a minor offstage part; Hesperus opened in February 1948. A senior in the Fall 1948, he worked briefly at Samuel Goldwyn Studios on the film The Green Promise which starred 10-year-old Natalie Wood.  Milner, 16 years old at the time, had a bit part as "Joe," a teenager in the Millbrook 4-H Club giving a report on a project. Aside from bit parts in Hesperus and The Green Promise, Milner focused on his high school education, excelled at tennis and baseball, and sharpened his acting skills as he finished his high school studies.

    1949-1951: College, Golf, and Gin Rummy...

    In the Spring of 1949, Milner graduated from North Hollywood High School, and took some courses at junior college. In July, the filming began for Sands of Iwo Jima, in which he had landed a minor part as "Pvt. Mike McHugh." He had been offered the part in the film by John Wayne himself  when the two met while both happened to be playing golf for the first time. Milner's character arrived about half-way through the film. He had only a few lines, but the most memorable of his few scenes included a failed attempt to throw a live grenade (he dropped it on the wind-up causing everyone to rush for cover) and the scene in which he was shot and killed on the beach at Iwo Jima. Despite the brevity, it was Milner's first real performance as an adult. He later recalled lying about his age to get the part in the film, telling producer Herbert Yates he was 18 when in fact he did not turn 18 until December 28, 1949, two weeks after the film premiered in Los Angeles.
   
    After filming for Sands of Iwo Jima ended in August, Milner enrolled in the Theater Arts program at the University of Southern California for the Fall semester of 1949. He also joined a fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa. Milner landed a minor part in Our Very Own, a film about a high school girl who found out she was adopted. Filming had started in August 1949 and continued through early October, but he managed to juggle school and acting for time being.

    In January 1950, he continued his education at USC while pursuing film roles. In February, he started filming a minor role in Louisa, a romantic comedy about a dating grandma starring Ronald Reagan as her shocked son. Then, on March 23, he made his television debut as "Dick McHenry" in The Lone Ranger episode "Pay Dirt."  Louisa opened May 31.

    Milner's next project was the film Halls of Montezuma, which was filmed from mid-May to mid-July 1950. It was on the set of this movie that Milner began a decades-long working relationship with future Dragnet and Adam-12 producer Jack Webb, who was also acting in the film. He managed to win $150 from Webb in a game of gin rummy, which Webb wasn't able to pay at the time. As Milner later recalled, "The end of the picture came, and Jack didn't pay up. I could have used that hundred and a half but my father said to forget it -- that Jack would never settle the debt. But a couple of months later I got a phone call. It was Jack. He said, 'Come down to NBC Radio and pick up your check.' So, I took the bus and went down to the studio where he was doing 'Dragnet' on Radio."  Webb then offered him a job on the radio series. "Because I couldn't be seen, I played old guys and middle-aged guys. One whole summer I was even Jack's police partner in the series" (TV Guide, August 4, 1973).

    According to Milner in a 1975 interview, the amount Webb owed him from the card game was $200. He also provided more information about his father's advice to him at the time: "my father was worried about my going on location in a big movie. He gave me some stern advice: 'Don't fool around with girls, don't drink, and don't gamble,' he lectured. So I met a marvelous girl I fooled around with, I drank a little, and I got in pretty deep playing gin rummy with Webb and when the picture ended he owed me $200" (Boston Globe, December 1975).

    Our Very Own opened in theaters on July 27, 1950. Milner enrolled in college again in the Fall, but when he landed a role in the film Operation Pacific (filmed in September-October 1950), he decided to quit school and pursue an acting career full-time. He then had but a month's rest before he got a part in Fighting Coast Guard which began filming in mid December. 

    On December 23, 1950, he appeared as "Drexel Potter" (the boyfriend of Stu's oldest daughter "Joyce") on the popular comedy, The Stu Erwin Show (aka Trouble with Father), in an episode entitled "Problem Party." Over the course of the next two years, Milner would return to the show and appear as "Drexel" in several episodes before becoming a regular cast member (playing "Jimmy Clark") on the television show during the 1954-1955 season.
 
    On January 4, 1951, Halls of Montezuma hit the box offices. Milner appeared as Private Whitney, a green soldier seeing battle for the first time. Although his lines were  limited, he  appeared frequently  throughout the film,  from beginning  to end. He distinguished  himself in two  compelling scenes. In  the first, he broke down  in tears at the death of another young soldier (played by Robert Wagner). In the second, he recited the prayer "Our Father" in response to the reading out loud (by Jack Webb) of a letter written by the recently killed doctor in the outfit (played by Karl Malden).

    The first of two additional World War II movies for the year, Operation Pacific, opened in theaters on January 27, 1951. Milner played a young ensign aboard the submarine Thunderfish, "Mr. Caldwell" as "Captain Duke Gifford" (played by John Wayne) called him. Milner was in scenes throughout the film, including several with John Wayne alone. In one, he and Wayne were swimming to rescue a downed pilot under enemy fire.

    Shortly after the opening of Operation Pacific -- on February 5, 1951 -- Milner's father died at the age of 45. Years later, he recalled that his father was disappointed when he chose to quit college and pursue acting in the Fall of 1950. "My dad was concerned (and with good reason), that this wasn't a stable business, but he needn't have worried. He died when I was 19, but I think he knew that I would never have stayed in unless I was making good money" (Photoplay Magazine, February 1973). Milner expressed regret that his father had died before he could really witness his success as an actor.

    On June 1, 1951, the second World War II film for the year, Fighting Coast Guard, came out in theaters. Milner played "Al Prescott."  He spent his summer filming I Want You, in which he played "George Kress Jr.," a young man drafted into the Army for the Korean War whose father wanted to keep his son home. In late August, he began filming Belles on Their Toes, a sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen, in which he played the obnoxious college football-star suitor of "Ernestine," one of the twelve siblings in the family. In late September 1951, he started filming The Captive City in which he played "Phil Harding," a young newspaper photographer working with a reporter (played by John Forsythe) who was investigating organized crime. Milner's character was beaten up by the mob in the film, which was reflective of the actual investigations of organized crime that were underway at the time, led by Senator Estes Kefauver.

    In October 1951, he starred in the television show The Bigelow Theatre in an episode entitled "T.K.O." as a boxer who was told to take a dive in a fight. Co-starring in the episode with Milner was James Dean in his first television appearance. He ended the year with another appearance as "Drexel" on The Stu Erwin Show in the episode "Jackie Knows All" on December 7. Also in the episode as "Randy," a friend of "Drexel," was James Dean in his second appearance on television.
    1952 was a busy year. My Wife's Best Friend started filming in early April and Springfield Rifle started later that month. Milner had minor parts in both films. Battle Zone and Torpedo Alley both filmed in June/July. Milner had a major role in the former, a film about a Marine motion picture unit in the Korean War, and a bit part in the latter World War II film. The Captive City was released in April and Belles on Their Toes hit theaters in May. Milner also appeared in two television episodes of the show Dragnet (which had begun airing on television in December 1951): "The Big Speech" (February 28) and "The Big Trial" (April 24).

    In the Spring, however, his acting career was somewhat derailed when he was drafted into the Army and sent to work in the Special Services Division at Fort Ord, California, located on the Monterey Bay peninsula. Over the next two years, he directed 20 military training films at the fort, which served as a training facility for basic combat and advance infantry training at the time for troops being sent over to Korea. While at Fort Ord, Milner befriended another soldier in Special Services, David Janssen, who had also begun an acting career before being drafted. The two worked on weekly variety shows and plays at the fort's Central Service Club to entertain both the troops as well as local civic groups. Milner and Janssen also spent their off-duty time together, occasionally obtaining passes to drive to Los Angeles on weekends to visit their families and do their laundry ("The David Janssen Archive").

    While in the Army, Milner supplemented his military income by continuing to perform alongside "Sgt. Friday" (Jack Webb) in the radio series Dragnet. He recalled in a 2001 Route 66 Magazine interview that two radio shows were taped every other Sunday. He would travel from Fort Ord to Los Angeles and tape two shows for about $112, which was close to a whole month's pay from the military. Milner played the role of Sergeant Friday's partner, "Officer Bill Lockwood," as well as other characters on the radio series. He could convincingly portray Friday's partner on the radio show, but his baby face relegated him to "the house male juvenile delinquent" roles on the television show. As he later put it, "Jack really saved my sanity then. The Army drove me crazy and Jack knew it... Not only did the work keep me from flipping out, but I needed the money. The Army was paying me a fast $104 a month" (TV Guide, August 4, 1973).

    In January of 1953, Torpedo Alley and Last of the Comanches opened at theaters. Destination Gobi (which was mostly filmed in August 1952, but in which Milner had a substantial role as "Elwood Halsey") opened in March 1953 and was shown on base at Fort Ord. One of the many skits Special Services performed at the base was entitled "Wild Bill Hiccup" and featured both Milner and his buddy Janssen. It was performed on April 22, 1953, at the Central Service Club.

    In addition to their regular entertainment duties, Milner and Janssen worked on a few of their own projects together. In a letter Janssen wrote home to his mother on July 8, 1953, he described how he and Milner had recorded a "disk jockey show" from which they hoped to make some money, and planned on recording a second show. On November 11, the pair were again performing in a skit for the troops at Fort Ord and sharing master of ceremony duties for the base's Armistice Day show ("The David Janssen Archive").

    Because of military duty, Milner was only able to act in a few off-base productions which he could complete while on leave. In June, he made his third appearance on the Dragnet television series in the episode "The Big Market."  In the early Fall of 1953, he acted in Alfred Hitchcock's film Dial M for Murder in a bit part as a policeman. He appeared at the beginning of the film, just after the intermission, and at the end for only about 10-15 seconds each time. He only had one line which came at the post- intermission appearance, telling a small group of people gathered on a street corner to move along. It was another way to keep his hand in Hollywood despite military duty, and make a few extra bucks at the same time.

    In January 1954, Milner appeared in the Schlitz Playhouse of Stars episode, "Rim of Violence."  In the Spring of 1954, the Army granted him leave for six weeks to participate in director John Ford's film about West Point, The Long Gray Line, in which Jack Webb had helped him land a part. Dial M for Murder came out in theaters in May. In August, Milner made his fourth appearance on the Dragnet television show in an episode entitled "The Big Producer" in which he played a 17-year-old high school student, "Steve Banner," accused of selling pornographic materials to minors.

    He continued to spend leisure time with his buddy from Fort Ord, David Janssen. On August 29, he spent a weekend with Janssen and Janssen's mother at Big Bear Lake, an alpine vacation spot near Los Angeles. On October 16, he took another Sunday off at Big Bear Lake with Janssen and his family ("The David Janssen Archive").

    After his discharge from the Army, Milner returned to his acting career full-time in the Fall of 1954. Along with a bit part in the film Mister Roberts, he found more regular work as "Jimmy Clark," the boyfriend and then husband of Stu Erwin's daughter Joyce, on The Stu Erwin Show television series (aka Trouble with Father) during the show's final season (1954-1955).
    By 1955, the 6-foot-tall, 180-pound 23-year-old with a freckled complexion, sandy red hair, and hazel eyes had established himself as one of Hollywood's newest young stars. He lived in an apartment in North Hollywood with his mother and step-father (his mother had married Guglielmo "Bill" Cini, a jewelry designer, in 1954). He enjoyed skiing, golf, book collecting, and book binding in his leisure time.

    In 1955, he appeared in four films at box offices: The Long Gray Line (as "Jim O'Carberry"), Mister Roberts, Francis in the Navy (as Rick), and Pete Kelly's Blues (as drummer "Joey Firestone").

    He had a bit part in the film Mister Roberts as a shore patrol officer who told "Mister Roberts" (Henry Fonda) that his ship's crew was no longer allowed to take shore leave for its misbehavior. For the brief appearance, Milner took center stage as he depicted a laid-back, slow-talking Alabamian who went into a lengthy tirade about the misadventures of the crew of the U.S.S. Reluctant. The film was mostly directed by John Ford (who became ill half way through) and starred William Powell (from Life with Father) in his last film. Milner would later comment about the role, "I was just out of the Army, and I was happy to have a job. I had done a movie for John Ford prior to that [The Long Gray Line], and he cast me for the role... it was a good scene, and it helped my career" (Route 66 Magazine, Fall 2001).

    In Francis in the Navy, Milner co-starred with his Fort Ord Army buddy, David Janssen, and another former Fort Ord soldier, Clint Eastwood, in a not-so-serious war film that included a talking mule. Eastwood had served at Fort Ord on the faculty as a swimming instructor and lifeguard at the pool. Special Services, as Milner would later recall, encompassed both the entertainers (like Milner and Janssen) and oversight of the sports programs and facilities, including the baseball team, the golf course, and the pool. Although Eastwood was therefore in Special Services, along with Milner and Janssen, he did not socialize with the two, though he may have been influenced by the two established actors to pursue an acting career after he was discharged (Route 66 Magazine, Fall 2001; "The David Janssen Archive").

    In Pete Kelly's Blues, he played a hot-tempered drummer in a jazz band led by "Pete Kelly" (played by Jack Webb). When the band refused to get involved with organized crime, Milner's character verbally insulted the crime boss and then physically assaulted one of his men. The drummer was then shot down in an alley. Although Milner's character thus exited the film early, his performance was a memorable one.

    Milner's 1955 television appearances included: The Schlitz Playhouse of Stars episode "The Schoolmarm" (February 11), the Dragnet episodes "The Big Key" (February 24) and "The Big Note" (May 5), and the comedic Halls of Ivy episode "Changing of Professors" (May 31). He also was performing as a regular cast member on the popular television series The Life of Riley, playing "Don Marshall," the boyfriend of "Babs Riley" in 1955.

    1956 was a productive year for Milner. He continued in his regular cast role as "Don Marshall" on the television series The Life of Riley. On January 20, the episode "Bab's Wedding" was seen on television as Milner's character moved up a notch in the Riley family, becoming Riley's son-in-law.

    In addition, he appeared in some substantive roles in three films: On the Threshold of Space, Screaming Eagles, and Pillars of the Sky. He also appeared in eight episodes of different television series: The Great Gildersleeve (February 9), TV Reader's Digest (May 7), The Charles Farrell Show (August 27), West Point Story (October 5), Telephone Time (October 14), Science Fiction Theatre (November 9), Crossroads (November 16), and Navy Log (December 5).

    He landed a part as one of the Earp brothers in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and began filming for that in the Spring. Though his part in O.K. Corral was brief, Milner, 24, superbly portrayed the handsome, likable 18-year-old lawman who was gunned down in the street, prompting the showdown between "Wyatt Earp" (played by Burt Lancaster), his two remaining brothers, and "Doc Holiday" (played by Kirk Douglas), and the Clanton gang. As in many other appearances, Milner convincingly portrayed characters younger than his actual age.

    In the Fall, he began filming Man Afraid, and he ended the year 1956 by landing an important role in Sweet Smell of Success, which started filming in November. Burt Lancaster, co-star in Sweet Smell of Success and partner in its producing company, Hecht-Lancaster Productions, recommended Milner for the romantic lead role opposite newcomer Susan Harrison in the film.

    1957-1959: The Sweet Smell of Success...


    Milner has recalled that 1957 was the most important year in his life. In February, the 25-year-old actor married Judith Beth Jones, a 22-year-old actress and singer from Waukegan, Illinois. The ceremony took place in the Waukegan home of Judy's parents, Allen and Marjory Jones. Milner's step-father, Bill Cini, designed the engagement and wedding rings for Judy. Milner had met Judy at  a Hollywood dinner party hosted by a mutual friend in May 1956. She had given him her phone number, he called for a date a week later,  and the rest was history. He later recalled knowing after only 3 to 4 weeks of dating that he and Judy would be married. Once married, Judy made it clear she did not want to work. Prior to marrying Milner, she had been a popular telephone girl for TV personality Tom Duggan and had a promising career ahead of her. Her career of choice was to be a full-time homemaker. When film and TV series offers were made to Judy after they were married, she declined. As Milner later described it, "She told me flat out that she had no intention of working after we were married. She really wanted to make a home and have children. She wanted six... until she had four. I was really pleased because that's the kind of life I had in mind too" (Photoplay Magazine, February 1973).

    It was also during the first three months of 1957 that Milner completed a major role ("Steve Dallas") in Sweet Smell of Success. As he said in a 2001 interview with Route 66 Magazine, "It was a challenging role with very well written dialogue. I think it was one of the best performances of my career."  His character, a jazz guitar player named "Steve Dallas," was in love with a gal whose powerful brother (played by Burt Lancaster) did not approve of the relationship. So, he sent his hatchet man (played by Tony Curtis) to ruin the musician. He first smeared him in the newspapers by getting a columnist to brand him a marijuana user and communist. Then, he planted marijuana on him and got a corrupt police detective to beat him up and arrest him. Milner's performance was top-notch. Lancaster's and Curtis' characters were so despicable that Milner's character, who got the girl in the end, came off as the audience favorite. In 1993, Sweet Smell of Success was named to the National Film Registry.

    It was roughly at the same time as Sweet Smell of Success was in production that Milner filmed a bit part in Desk Set, which starred Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. In an interview a year later, he listed the two as his favorite actors -- so working with them, no matter the size of his part in the film, must have been a personal thrill.

    Soon after his February wedding, Milner appeared on the television series West Point Story for a second time (April 26), and shortly thereafter, the films Desk Set, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Man Afraid, and Sweet Smell of Success were released at the box offices. Still working on the cast of The Life of Riley, he ended the year filming substantial roles in Marjorie Morningstar and Too Much Too Soon.

    1957 was also a challenging year for Milner and his wife when they bought their first house which was old and needed a lot of repair. By November, they knew a baby was on the way in 8 months. A film in which he was to have a part was canceled before production started. He was working on a pilot for a new TV series, Starr, First Baseman, which would be completed early in 1958, but it didn't sell. (In the prospective show, he played a New York Yankees ballplayer who was hit in the head with a pitch and struggled back to recovery. It would not be publicly aired until 1965.)  So, he learned how to do carpentry and repaired the house on his own. He would continue to use his new carpentry skills in future homes as well.

    Milner started off the year 1958 with two television series appearances: The Millionaire (March 19) and Wagon Train (April 9), and two films: Marjorie Morningstar (opened April 5) and Too Much Too Soon (opened May 31). The former film was a starring role for him opposite Gene Kelly and Natalie Wood that won widespread acclaim.  Wood played "Marjorie," a young woman who fell in love with an older man, "Noel Airman," (played by Kelly) while working at a summer camp. Milner's character, "Wally Wronkin," was in love with her, while Kelly's character was uninterested. A few months after the release of the Marjorie Morningstar, Martin and Judy had their first child, Amy Elizabeth, on July 2, 1958. In October, he began filming for Compulsion in which he had landed another major part. In November, he appeared in the television show Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse to end the year's performances.

    In an October 17, 1958, interview with Screen News, Milner reported that he still enjoyed book binding, golf, and attending ballet in his leisure, and could boast of such skills as tap dancing, juggling, and knife throwing. He also enjoyed playing Scrabble, completing crossword puzzles, buying new clothes (especially sports clothes), and driving his car, an Austin-Healey. He indicated that he worked out three times a week at the Hollywood Athletic Club and very much enjoyed taking steam baths. He expressed a musical preference for Dixieland jazz; classical works by Ravel, Tchaikovsky, and Borodin; and popular tunes by Frank Sinatra and June Christy. His favorite actors, he said, were Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, David Wayne, and Paul Muni, and he hoped someday to be able to play in a comedy with Rosalind Russel and Cary Grant. A Methodist, he said he attended church every Sunday, and enjoyed his quiet time, preferring to avoid a lot of noise or "noisy people."  He considered himself very systematic -- for example, he read the newspaper every day from column to column. He added, "I don't know how many room-mates I've driven to distraction because I'm neat to the point of sickness."

    In 1959, Milner appeared in seven television series episodes: Rawhide, Clint Eastwood's series, (January 23), Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse (March 23), Playhouse 90 (April 16), Steve Canyon (June 2), The Millionaire (September 16), Hotel de Paree (October 16), and U.S. Marshall (October 31).

    He also starred on the big  screen as "Sid Brooks" as the murder courtroom drama Compulsion hit theaters in April. Set in 1924 Chicago and based on a real-life thrill killing of an adolescent boy, Compulsion starred Orson Wells as the attorney defending the two law students responsible for the murder. Milner's character, a fellow law student working as a reporter, assisted the prosecution by helping discover a clue to the murderers' identities. Shortly after the release of Compulsion, Milner began filming of The Private Lives of Adam and Eve in July and August. He ended the year filming Sex Kittens Go to College.

    1960-1964: The Route 66 Years...

    1960 marked the beginning of Milner's career as a leading man in popular television shows that would keep him in the weekly public eye for most of the next 15 years. He began the year with an appearance on The Twilight Zone (February 26). He also had major roles in two films, 13 Ghosts (opened in July) and Sex Kittens Go to College (opened in October). In addition to playing a leading role in Sex Kittens, he was also Associate Producer with Robert Hill who wrote the screenplay.

    Next, Milner turned his attention toward the hour-long television series Route 66 that appeared on CBS on Friday nights at 8:30 beginning on October 1, 1960. Route 66 ran for four seasons (116 episodes), with its final airing on March 13, 1964. The series focused on "Tod Stiles," (Milner's character) who, following the death of his father, drove around the country in his Chevy Corvette in search of adventure. Milner's traveling companion was played by George Maharis ("Buz Murdock," 1960-1963) and Glenn Corbett ("Lincoln 'Linc' Case," 1963-1964). When the show began to air, Milner told an interviewer, "This is the first series in which I've starred and we think it has a good chance of success. There is great variety in the scripts and situations, and we don't try to beat one idea to death by repetition" (Chicago Daily Tribune TV Week, August 27, 1960). Eleven episodes of Route 66, including the pilot, appeared on TV in 1960.

    The show was the brainchild of producer Herb Leonard and writer Stirling Silliphant, who created it in the Spring of 1959 and tried it out on a show they were producing called Naked City. The idea was to pair up a wealthy preppy kid with a poor street-wise kid. They did so in a Naked City episode, a sort of "mini-pilot," and when it worked, they set out to produce a real pilot. They decided that Maharis, who had worked on Naked City, would fit the bill for the street kid. For the preppy kid, Leonard had narrowed it down to two candidates: Robert Redford and Martin Milner. Milner got the part because of his television and film experience; Redford only had stage experience.


    Milner later summarized the show's focus, "It represented the spirit of movement and adventure in the country. It was a natural. From the very beginning the show had a great following and became very popular. I tried to talk them out of using a Corvette in the show. I did my best to convince them to use something really exotic. I said, 'Let's get a Ferrari. A Corvette is too ordinary.'  Remember, I'm a Californian and I was used to seeing 'vettes. To me a Ferrari was really something special. But we went with Chevrolet and used Corvettes. It was the perfect vehicle ("A Route 66 Portrait").

    The pilot episode, "Black November" introduced "Tod Stiles," a Yale-educated rich kid whose father had died leaving him nothing but his car, a stylish 1960 Corvette. "Buz Murdock," who worked for Tod's father, was left without a job when the father's shipping business died with him. So, the two hopped in the car and started driving, literally looking to start a new life. The first episode supposedly took place in the fictitious town of Garth, Alabama, but when a town could not be located in Alabama to fit production needs, Concord, Kentucky, was chosen instead. To this day, the small town points to the filming of the first episode of Route 66 there as its claim to fame.

    Route 66, though filmed in black and white because CBS did not yet have color technology, was unique because it was the first television show to be shot entirely on location throughout the country at a time when most series were shot in studio back lots. The first season alone brought Milner to New Orleans, Louisiana; Kanab, Utah; Port Hueneme, California; Grants Pass, Oregon; Merlin, Oregon; Page, Arizona; and Carlsbad, New Mexico. According to a TV Guide article the week of July 22, 1961, Milner and the Route 66 crew had traveled over 19,000 miles and filmed in 36 different locations in 11 states, having finished its first season and having been renewed for its second. Despite the challenges of filming around the country, the company of between 35 and 50 cast, crew, and management was able to turn out Season 1 episodes of the show in just 3-1/2 weeks after filming (the normal lag time for producing a show was 6 weeks).

    In a December 1989 interview, Milner recalled that what made Route 66 unique, in addition to the locations for filming, was the content, dealing with controversial subjects. "I thought we were breaking new ground." He gave the example of the episode "The Thin White Line" in which "Tod" inadvertently took LSD at a time when the general public didn't know too much about it. That episode, according to Milner, was his personal favorite of the series because it was the most challenging for him as an actor, having to exhibit a wide range of emotions over a short period. He credited the director of that episode, David Lowell Rich, for helping him get through the performance. As far as memorable episodes were concerned, the production manager of the show, Sam Manners, recalled that the most memorable episode for him was the one in which Milner "accidentally splattered Lee Marvin's nose wide open."  According to Manners, "It wasn't funny for Lee, but at the time it was funny for us. Unfortunately, Lee zigged instead of zagged and Marty hit him flush on the nose with his right hand. The doctor had to put 20 stitches in Marvin's nose to patch him up and then we couldn't shoot anything but long shots until his nose healed" (Corvette Quarterly, Summer 1990). According to the New York Times (August 16, 1961), 27 stitches were needed to sew up Marvin's nose at Allegheny Hospital in Pittsburgh on the evening of August 15 when the accident occurred while cameras were rolling as Milner and Marvin acted out a fight scene in a restaurant. Milner has also recalled some unique moments in filming the series, "We were filming on a boat off the coast of Louisiana and were shooting on an actual boat in a terrible rainstorm. Our electricity for the lights and everything charged the boat, so every time we touched a piece of metal we got an electrical shock, but we had to keep going. I also remember crashing the car a couple of times as well" (Route 66 Magazine, Fall 2001).

    Because filming was done on location around the country, Milner spent much of his time away from his home in Sherman Oaks, California, where his wife Judy and 1-1/2-year-old daughter Amy remained when the series started filming. On location in New Orleans for a month, he recalled phoning his wife. Judy informed him that their daughter had told her playmates that she did not have a father. As Milner put it in an interview with Silver Screen in February 1963, "she couldn't understand why I wasn't around. I had been gone for a month, and she figured I was gone for keeps."  It was then that he and Judy decided the family would stay together on this Route 66 adventure. Judy and Amy joined him for the remainder of filming for the season.  Despite the challenges of taking his family on the road, Milner thought Route 66 was doing the right thing filming on location. He told a TV Guide interviewer in July 1961 that , "We're doing it the way it should be done and it would be very easy to have done it all at Hollywood. I figure to give it four more years. By that time I will have had an education on the road and my daughter Amy will be starting in school. I want to be home for that. Furthermore, I'll have enough in the bank by then to be able to do what I want to do, maybe even take a year off and go around with Judy and the girls."  By 1962, his yearly intake for the show was $125,000, plus a new automobile each year from Chevrolet (Milner asked for a station wagon, not a Corvette like his acting partner George Maharis).

    In late 1960, Judy and Amy took a respite from traveling with the Route 66 crew during Judy's last few months of pregnancy with her second child. Milner later recalled in a March 1962 interview with TV Picture Life that, despite the difficulties of traveling, he wouldn't change a thing. When Judy and Amy went home to the San Fernando Valley so Judy could give birth to Molly, Milner recalled, "It was awful. I don't function as well without her. As tough as it is moving a family about the country every eight or ten days, it's worse not having them along."

    In January 1961, after long delays, the film The Private Lives of Adam and Eve was released at box offices. It had mostly been filmed in July and August of 1959, with some additional scenes completed in May 1960, but the controversial nature of the film (a comedy/science fiction fantasy that featured a dream in which Milner's character was the scantily-clad Biblical Adam in the Garden of Eden) delayed final release. The film was rated "Condemned" by the Catholic Legion of Decency for its sexuality and nudity, and co-director Mickey Rooney had to leave more film on the cutting floor than he would have preferred.

    Milner flew home from Phoenix, Arizona, to visit Judy and Amy, arriving late in the afternoon on January 20, 1961. He recalled being exhausted and, when he finally got home, told Judy (kiddingly) not to have the baby that night because he was "too pooped" to drive her to hospital. When Judy went into labor that night, he managed to get her to St. Vincent Hospital just in time for the 2 am arrival of his second child, Molly Bess, on January 21. As he later put it, "God got us there... I wasn't in any shape to."  For the remainder of the season, Judy stayed home with Amy and Molly. They would join the Route 66 caravan once again the Fall 1961, going home again just before Judy gave birth to their third child. On March 4, 1962, the Milner clan once again increased in size with the arrival of the first boy in the family, Stuart Martin (Milner flew home from Dallas just in time for Stuart's birth). The females would still have the advantage, however, for almost the next two years.

    When asked in the Spring 1962 about how long he expected to be starring in Route 66, Milner said, "I'm fully prepared to go the length of my contract--five years."  But, he added that it would be possible for a TV series to be on the air too long, to the detriment of the stars involved in a show. "Six or seven years is too long. I think three years is ideal. It's a difficult decision to make, however, because if a show runs six or seven years, you could be rich at the end of that time. My main worry is that after a certain point, you become so identified with a character and a series that you might not be able to get work when your show goes off the air. I'm not living in a dream world. I'm preparing myself in case that happens to me" (Detroit Free Press Weekly TV Channels, June 3, 1962).

    In April 1962, Route 66 co-star George Maharis caught hepatitis and was admitted to St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica. Everyone on the set, including Milner, was immediately inoculated for the infectious disease. Maharis was hospitalized a month before he was able to return to work. The Route 66 crew waited until Maharis was ready early in the Summer before traveling to the next film locations in Washington and Oregon. In mid-November 1962, Maharis again left the show, indicating he had experienced a relapse. While Maharis was away from the show,  Milner's work load doubled. He ended up doing six episodes on his own. There were rumors that Maharis was unhappy with the show, the travel, and even Milner. When asked by TV Guide in January 1963 about the rumors and critical comments made by Maharis about Milner, a self-effacing Milner praised Maharis' talent and said, "He sounds like he's kind of mad at me. I'm sorry. We never had any trouble during the first years of the show. I guess this illness has sort of gotten to him, which is understandable." Maharis never returned to the show, so Glenn Corbett was hired to replace him as the character "Linc."  In Movie Screen Yearbook in 1963, Route 66 creator and writer, Stirling Silliphant gave his opinion about Maharis' leaving the show, "I think Maharis is impatient to get on with his own career. He has had no regard for this company, his co-star, Marty Milner, and the 50 or 60 other people on the show."

    Milner and Corbett developed a camaraderie that was reflected in the characters of "Tod" and "Linc."  Milner later recalled one incident in particular, "Most of the time we worked thirteen out of fourteen days on the road; we took every other Sunday off. So it was always a big deal to get a day off. Occasionally, if we didn't have a cover set and it rained, we'd take a day off or finish early. In Poland Springs, Maine, we had someplace we wanted to go; I was really hoping to get off early. It's 4 or 5 o'clock and it was a real cloudy day, and Glenn always joked that he could do a rain dance and make it rain. He'd done it several times before, so the associate producer, Lenny Katzman, who now produces 'Dallas', and I set this joke up. We drew all the hieroglyphics on the ground that Glenn used to draw when he was gonna do this Indian rain dance, we drew a big circle and put the Indian symbols in there, and we drew it right close to a barn where we were working. And Glenn got in the circle and started to do his rain dance. He was bobbing up and down and bending over and throwing his head up to the sky and Lenny and I climbed up on the roof with two buckets of water, and then when he threw his head up to the sky we just doused him in water!" (TV Collector, July-August 1986).

    By the end of the third season, Route 66 had become a winner in the network ratings wars. According to Producer Herb Leonard, the show "could have run for years... The people at Chevrolet and I had been discussing taking Tod and Buz to Europe after the fourth season. Route 66 could have been the first American series shot abroad" (Motorbrook International, 1966). As it was, the series ended after the fourth season, and Robert Culp and Bill Cosby would have the distinction of being the first American series shot on location abroad in their 1965-68 show, I Spy. 

    By January 1963, Milner's Route 66 entourage included him, his wife, 4-1/2-year-old Amy, 2-year old Molly, 10-month-old Stuart, a shaggy terrier named Cupcake, and a housekeeper, Mrs. Mildred Miller. Miller had served as housekeeper for Milner's family since 1948, so she was part of the family. Cupcake had to attend special doggy school to learn how to spend a lot of time in a car without getting car sick.

    Milner had a huge rack built on top of his new Chevy Green Briar sports wagon to carry luggage and belongings and built extra cribs or beds as needed to accommodate his growing family. While filming went on during the daytime, Judy dropped off and picked up Amy from preschools (a new one in each town), bought groceries, went to laundromats and dry cleaners, and shopped for two of her favorite things, antiques and pewter.

    In addition to the exposure to new sights and people at filming locations around the country, the Route 66 crew kept entertained by fielding a softball team to take on small-town teams whenever possible. Although his co-star George Maharis did not play on the team, Milner relished playing shortstop. He also enjoyed collecting antiques from across the country to decorate his home in Sherman Oaks, California; meeting new people; and specking out local cuisine (especially the varieties of garlic bread).

    In a February 1963 interview with Silver Screen, Milner reflected on married life, his career, and himself. He clearly believed his wife Judy was what kept him going each day. He knew that soon after they started dating, "it seemed to me after three or four weeks we just knew we were going to get married. I knew that I was in love with Judy, and I didn't figure I could get along very well without her."  The two shared a philosophy of life from the beginning. As Milner put it, "She's kind of an old-fashioned girl, I guess... she wasn't too interested in a lot of frills, a lot of fancy things. Her tastes were a lot like mine, simple. And she was interested in real things."  According to Milner, Judy was not the typical Hollywood girl, "Compared with the average Hollywood girl, Judy was quite a contrast, quite a breath of fresh air" -- someone who would just as soon spend a quiet evening at home or seeing a movie as opposed to going out drinking on the town. Judy also shared Milner's view of married life. "Judy's used to the kind of home where the man had a great deal to say," Milner explained. At the same time, he fully expected to share responsibilities with his wife. As he put it, "I guess maybe I'm the last of the breed of man that doesn't mind taking responsibilities. You know, in many cases, women have taken over a lot of the male responsibilities, but I think the males surrendered it willingly, to get out of the bother of it. You know--'Don't bother me with the household problems. You pay the bills. Don't bother me with the children.'  I never felt that way. I want to have my say-so."  Milner's "say-so" was that he wanted his family kept together, no matter what.

    When Route 66 came along, then, it was no surprise that Judy and the kids were along for the ride. "When I was first offered the show, I was offered a couple of others at the same time, but I felt this one had the best chance to be successful, and would do the most for me if it were. So Judy and I discussed it. I knew exactly what the show would entail and I went into it with open eyes. And Judy said, 'Well, do whatever you think would be best for you, the only provision being that if you're going to travel a lot, I want to come along...'. Her feeling is that she would prefer to be at home, but not without me. She would prefer to come along on the road, get along as best she can with the children rather than stay home alone."  Life on the road was not easy, he admitted, but by the same token, he and Judy didn't need too much to keep them happy. "I think I'm a pretty sensible type fellow, not too frivolous. I like to do ordinary things. We don't live an exciting life by Hollywood standards or by New York standards. But it's very pleasant. We enjoy it," Milner said (Silver Screen, February 1963).

    In the Spring of 1964, as Route 66 came to the end of its run, Milner switched gears again. On May 31, he appeared on The Dupont Show of the Week in a comedy-drama about an average married man who became rich overnight and began leading a life of extravagance. He then took a few months to settle back into a more sedentary lifestyle with his wife, daughters Amy (5-1/2) and Molly (3), son Stuart (2), and newborn Andrew William (who had entered the world on January 5, the day before his dad was supposed to return to Florida to finish filming Route 66).

    1965-1967: Between "Tod" and "Pete"...

    As 1965 rolled around, Milner was in high gear, appearing on ten television shows: Slattery's People (January 8), Kraft Suspense Theatre (February 25), four episodes of Bob Hope Presents Chrysler Theatre (March 5, April 2 & 9, June 4), The Virginian (March 10), Vacation Playhouse (July 23), Gidget (September 29), and Laredo (September 30). Two of the Chrysler Theatre episodes featured parts I and II of a TV movie, Memorandum for a Spy (aka: Asylum for a Spy). The Vacation Playhouse episode was the first airing of the old pilot, Starr, First Baseman that had been filmed back in 1957-1958.

    In addition to his TV appearances in 1965, Milner was also part of the first stock company that played the Broadway comedy "Any Wednesday" on the Florida circuit of Palm Beach and Coconut Grove under the direction of Howard Erskine. Also starring were Zachary Scott and Ruth Ford in the performances at the Royal Poinciana Playhouse on February 22-27, and again at Miami's Coconut Grove Playhouse in March. Written by Muriel Resnick, the enormously popular play was about a New York executive's mistress, "Ellen Gordon," who fell for the executive's handsome young associate (played by Milner) when he was inadvertently sent to use the apartment where the executive and his mistress met on Wednesdays.

    In June, he starred in the big screen release of Zebra in the Kitchen as "Dr. Del Hartwood," a veterinarian at a zoo in the family-oriented comedy about a boy who released all the animals at the zoo.

    His guest appearance as "The Great Kahuna" on Gidget in September 1965 was a memorable one. A youthful 34-year-old, he played a 28-year-old surfer who lived in a hut on Malibu Beach. Nicknamed "The Great Kahuna" and revered by the adolescent beach-goers as the world's greatest surfer, Milner's character was a man free of all cares in life except hitting the waves when someone yelled "surf's up!" The much younger "Gidget" (played by Sally Field) became infatuated with him until her father conspired with "Kahuna" to persuade her otherwise.

    In 1966, Milner resumed his role in the play "Any Wednesday" with a new lead actress, Connie Stevens. The play was performed January 11-23 at MelodyLand, a brand-new 3,200-seat theatre-in-the-round in Anaheim, California. He appeared as a guest star in episodes on four television series in 1966: Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre (February 2), A Man Called Shenandoah (May 2), The Virginian (November 2), and 12 O'Clock High (December 16). He also traveled to Europe to star in the film Liebesspiele im Schnee (aka: Ski Fever in the U.S.). He played a girl-chasing American music student teaching skiing at a resort in the Alps to pay for tuition. Although the film was released in Europe in December 1966, it would take another 3 years for American audiences to see the movie.  Filming for another movie, Sullivan's Empire, was also completed in 1966.


    Milner's TV appearances in 1967 were on Run for Your Life (two episodes as "Col. Mike Green" on February 13 and April 18), The Rat Patrol (February 27), Felony Squad (October 26), and Insight (November 12). On the episode of Rat Patrol, Milner made his only guest appearance on the World War II television show, playing "Sgt. Roberts," a German spy who had infiltrated the U.S. Army and was plotting to disrupt the Allied command.

    He appeared in two films in 1967: Sullivan's Empire which was released in January, and Valley of the Dolls which opened in theaters in December. In the former, he played the leading role as the oldest of three brothers who went in search of their missing father in the Brazilian jungle. Filmed as a pilot for a proposed TV series in which Milner would have starred, it was released at theaters but the series never came to be.

    In the Fall of 1967, he was rehearsing in Paramus, New Jersey, and at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania, for the Broadway sex comedy "The 90 Day Mistress" when he was contacted by his old friend, Jack Webb. Webb wanted him to do a pilot for a new TV series. Milner had a week's break in rehearsals, so he flew out to Los Angeles to film the pilot.

    He then returned for the November 6 opening of "The 90 Day Mistress" at the Biltmore Theatre on Broadway, playing the male lead, "Danny Liken." As Milner later recalled, "I was sure that the play was gonna be a big hit and didn't really think too much of the chances of the pilot. And the play was just an awful failure, just went into the toilet, and fortunately I'd done the pilot and the pilot sold, so once again I was lucky and not smart!" (The TV Collector, May-June 1995). The play ended its run on November 25, and Milner headed back to Los Angeles to work on the set of a new show based on the pilot, Adam-12.

    1968-1975: "The Strawberry Fox" Drives a Patrol Car Now...

    Milner began the year 1968 filming another pilot for a proposed television show starring Rory Calhoun, Land's End, which aired on April 21. In June, a 1965 episode of the TV show Laredo in which he had appeared was pieced together with other episodes and released as a feature film entitled Three Guns for Texas. Then, life changed dramatically.

    From the Fall 1968 to Spring 1975, Milner starred as "Officer Peter Joseph Malloy" in the half-hour-long NBC television series Adam-12. His partner throughout the 7-year series was Kent McCord who played "Officer James Reed."  Milner (11 years older than McCord) played an experienced officer in the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) who took on training the rookie probationer. "Pete Malloy" (nicknamed "The Strawberry Fox") was the consummate bachelor, a lady's man whose various dating experiences and rants against marriage contrasted to the younger officer, "Jim Reed," who praised the settled married life. "Reed" and his wife "Jean" welcomed "Malloy" into their family, which included a newborn son to whom they asked "Malloy" to be godfather.

    Milner's long-standing friendship and working relationship with the show's producer, Jack Webb, was not the only reason he was tapped for the starring role in the show. As Milner told TV Guide in November 1968, "I'm probably the best in the business at hitting camera marks while driving. With all my experience, I can pull right into a close-up."  All that driving around the country for Route 66 had paid off. Milner's part was actually filled after that of the rookie officer in the police duo. Kent McCord, like Milner, had worked for Jack Webb on the Dragnet series, but by himself in the episode "The Big Interrogation." Because of that performance, Webb had already decided to cast McCord as "Officer Jim Reed" before a decision was made on who would play "Officer Pete Malloy."  For the role of "Malloy," according to producer Robert A. Cinader, Martin Milner was the natural choice: "The guy had to be physically right, and he had to have the range and facility as an actor to project the totally credible illusion of a cop, and do it in an attractive way. As soon as Milner's name came up, everybody said 'that's the guy.' Along with his experience and maturity, there's this wholesome and still youthful quality about him." 

    One of the main goals of the producers of Adam-12 was to depict the daily life of LAPD patrol officers. Consequently, both Milner and McCord spent six months sitting in the back of real LAPD patrol cars on duty so they could get a feel for the job they were to portray. Milner rode around South Los Angeles and McCord around Hollywood. Writers for the show had to do the same. The episodes themselves were based on actual LAPD case histories and criminal records. Each of the 16 divisions of the LAPD had to take turns sending a sergeant as a technical adviser during the filming of each episode. The badges used by the actors were actual LAPD badges delivered to the set on a daily basis. Realism and authenticity was essential. Scenes involving Milner and McCord sitting inside the patrol car talking while on patrol were shot using cameras mounted on the hood (or the trunk in later episodes) as the car was towed or driven through the streets of Los Angeles. The film crew even had to devise a canopy system for the hood of the car to prevent glare on the windshield during filming. Filming itself went on three to four days a week, but on those days, Milner often skipped lunch to watch daily screenings in order to improve his performance.


    On the home front, the Milner family by the Fall of 1968 lived in a mock-adobe house on a dead-end street in Van Nuys, California. Judy was occupied taking care of the home, the kids, and her husband. She drove their kids, who now ranged in ages from 10 to 4, along with some of the neighborhood kids, to school each day in a 6-door airport bus. Milner proudly drove the other car in the family, a restored 1953 Bentley Sedan de Ville that once belonged to Frank Lloyd Wright. He spent his leisure time at home, often working on projects in his small woodworking shop in the furnace room. He repaired pieces of primitive American furniture to use in the house, and made miniature doll houses for his wife and daughters, complete with electrical wiring and furniture. He became obsessed with completing the first doll house, according to his wife Judy. Milner said, "She says I've got a completely one-track mind, and I guess she's right. While I was working on it, I was called about doing a Tarzan guest spot. I didn't want to go to Acapulco and the part didn't sound very exciting, but the real reason I turned it down was that I couldn't leave the doll house right then" (TV Guide, November 23, 1968).

    On December 12, 1968, Milner appeared on an episode of Dragnet with Kent McCord. The two played their Adam-12 characters being interviewed in
   
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