Dec 282012
 
Actor Martin Milner, who portrayed peripatetic young Tod Stiles in the TV series Route 66, before teaming up with Kent McCord in the 1968-1975 cop drama Adam-12, turns 81 years old today.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, on this date in 1931, Milner lived part of his boyhood in Seattle, where he first took up acting. He subsequently moved with his family to Los Angeles, and in 1947 had his screen debut in Life with Father. His first TV role was in a 1950 episode of The Lone Ranger. Milner met actor (later director and producer) Jack Webb--who would cast him in Adam-12--in 1950 on the set of a Richard Widmark/Jack Palance World War II picture called Halls of Montezuma.

But military service interrupted his acting career after he celebrated his 21st birthday. Wikipedia explains,
In 1952, Milner was drafted into the U.S. Army. In Special Services at Fort Ord on California's Monterey Bay peninsula, he directed training films and, with fellow actor/soldier David Janssen, emceed and performed in skits to entertain the soldiers. Milner and Janssen encouraged fellow soldier Clint Eastwood to pursue an acting career when his time in the Army ended. While in the Army, Milner continued working for Jack Webb, playing “Officer Bill Lockwood” (briefly the partner of “Sgt. Friday”) and other characters on the Dragnet radio series on weekends. He also appeared on six episodes of Webb’s Dragnet television series between 1952 and 1955.
In addition to his performances on Route 66 and Adam-12, Milner starred (with a very young Helen Hunt) in the short-lived Irwin Allen small-screen series Swiss Family Robinson. He also did turns on Felony Squad, Police Story, and Murder, She Wrote. I remember Milner from the 1978 disaster teleflick Hurricane, in which he played a courageous pilot taking on a brutal storm, and he holds the distinction of having been the first murder victim in the regular run of Peter Falk’s Columbo, playing a successful mystery novelist in the September 15, 1971, episode, “Murder by the Book.”

Both IMDb and Wikipedia state that Milner’s final acting job was in a 1997 episode of Diagnosis Murder titled “Murder Blues,” with him playing an LAPD detective. However, he co-hosted Let’s Talk Hook-up, a San Diego, California-based radio talk show about the wonders of fishing (one of his passions), from 1993 to 2004.

I hope that wherever Martin Milner is on this day at the very tail end of 2012, he’s enjoying the hell out of his retirement.

(Hat tip to Frederick Zackel.)
Apr 222012
 
Today we celebrate the 75th birthday of American actor John Joseph “Jack” Nicholson, born on this date back in 1937. And we’re celebrating it in appropriate style, we think, with previews from Chinatown, the 1974 film in which he plays a sleazy, 1930s gumshoe, J.J. “Jake” Gittes, who gets mixed up in a knotty case involving power, passion, and paternity. The Moviefone blog recently declared Chinatown to be the second best film Nicholson has ever made, following his 1975 comedy/drama, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and we’re not about to disagree.

The first two video frames below feature trailers for Chinatown (a film that was finally followed, in 1990, by a sequel: The Two Jakes). The third offers Jerry Goldsmith’s fabulous Chinatown theme.




Apr 042012
 
Television historian Ed Robertson tells us that tonight’s edition of TV Confidential, his two-hour radio program, will celebrate the fast-approaching (on April 7) 84th birthday of American actor James Garner, the star of Maverick, The Rockford Files, Bret Maverick, and numerous films. Joining Robertson will be Jon Winokur, co-author of Garner’s wonderful, 2011 autobiography, The Garner Files.

The show can be heard this evening, beginning at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) on Detroit’s WROM. Log on here to listen in.

Also included in this evening’s show, Robertson explains, will be “encore presentations of our conversations with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, The F.B.I., My Dinner of Herbs) and star car researcher Jim Suva (Pioneers of Television) ...”

Oh, and if you miss hearing it tonight, this episode of TV Confidential will be repeated several times over the next week on affiliated stations. Click here to find the full schedule.
Mar 222012
 
Today is actor William Shatner’s 81st birthday. It reminds me that I participated two years ago in a fun, weeklong Shatner blogathon, organized by Stacia Jones of She Blogged by Night. Most features of that blogathon can be found here. My own humble contribution, about the 1975-1976 ABC-TV series Barbary Coast, can be found here.

The film-oriented blog, The Lightning Bug’s Lair, has organized its own tribute around Shatner’s latest birthday. Click here.

My father’s 88th birthday would also have been today. Unfortunately, he passed away back in 2004, leaving me, finally, parentless.

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