10 little details you never noticed in the first episode of Adam-12
You never realized this series debut contained a mayor, a Florida legend, and a beloved sitcom character.
Right off the bat, the hero quits. Officer Malloy has seen enough. He can't bear to lose another young partner. He tells his superiors he's turning in his badge at the end of his shift.
That's a heck of a way to begin a police drama. Of course, Malloy (Martin Milner) decides to stick around. For 173 more episodes. That's thanks to his new partner, Jim Reed (Kent McCord), a brave if naive newbie who needs someone to show him the ropes.
Thus begins Adam-12, perhaps the most pioneering police procedural in television history. "Log 1: The Impossible Mission" premiered in the fall of 1968, showing the more realistic, routine service of LAPD patrolmen. "The incidents you have seen are true," the show declared in all-caps at the end of the episode. Even the salamander story? We believe it.
Let's take a closer look at the scenes. We found some surprising details.
1. "John Randolph" is really Jack Webb.
Adam-12 mastermind Jack Webb, the creator and star of Dragnet, had his hands all over this pilot. He directed it. He also wrote it. Yep, "John Randolph" is a fake name. Even the good guys use aliases from time to time.
2. The "Salamander Lady" was Millie on 'Dick Van Dyke' and Yetta on 'The Nanny'.
The first stop in Reed and Malloy's history as partners is a quirky situation. A salamander has seemingly escaped a shoebox in a woman's car. She squirms and shrieks, convinced the amphibian is still crawling over her body. It's not. The little guy is still in his shoebox. Anyway, Ann Morgan Guilbert plays the character. Boomers know her best as Millie Helper from The Dick Van Dyke Show. Millennials love her as Fran's hip grandma Yetta Rosenberg on The Nanny.
3. The crook riding shotgun in the car chase was a Florida Gators sports legend.
After getting called to a liquor store for possible robbers, Malloy and Reed then speed after a beautiful old Buick. It's a dazzling car chase, perhaps the most exciting ever seen at that time on television, splashing through the Los Angeles River, location of future chases in Grease and Terminator 2. The Buick slams into a water channel. Reed cuffs the passenger. This uncredited extra is Dale Van Sickel, the first Florida Gator to ever be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He also coached basketball at the University of Florida! His first stunt work in Hollywood was for the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup!
4. Van Sickel died a few years later from injuries sustained in a car stunt.
Aside from his many screen appearances (he was even a Penguin henchman on Batman), Van Sickel worked for decades as a stunt performer. He died in 1977 at the age of 69. His obituary explained that his death was due to injuries sustained on set. "Van Sickel had been seriously ill since July 1975 when he was injured while filming an attempted stunt," the Associated Press wrote. "The car he was driving… skidded into an abutment. Doctors said Van Sickel suffered brain damage." The film must have been the Don Knotts movie No Deposit, No Return, Van Sickel's final credit, which filmed in July of '75.
5. There was no windshield in the Buick during the crash.
Take a close look at the Buick as it skids into the channel. There is no windshield. The glass was likely removed to protect the drivers and reduce glare.
6. It was a big week for Ena Hartman.
Later that night, Malloy and Reed head to the home of a couple with a baby in peril. Malloy saves the child, as you can see from the smiles in the image up top. Ena Hartman played the mother. That same week, she could be seen on the cover of Jet magazine. "Film City's First Black Mayor," the cover line declared. Hartman was the first black woman to be named "Mayor of Universal City," a title bestowed on actors at the studio. She was contracted to Universal at the time.
7. This was the only time Malloy and Reed drove this model car.
Just like real LAPD cops at the time, Reed and Malloy drive (well, just Malloy gets to drive, of course) a Plymouth Belvedere. This particular cruiser in "Log 1," however, is the 1967 Belvedere, as the pilot was filmed months earlier in 1967. For the rest of season one, the cruiser is a 1968 Plymouth Belvedere 383 V8, the newer model.
8. They had a different radio in this one episode, too.
The gear in the cruiser is much different, too. Just look at how much more elaborate the car's radio was in "Log 1." The next episode ("Log 141: The Color TV Bandit") features a slimmed-down radio, marked FREQ 1.
9. The production covered up the Motorola name with tape.
One more little radio detail. If you look closely, you will see that a strip of duct tape has been applied to cover the "Motorola" brand name. However, the company's logo is still clearly visible to the left.
10. Consultant Thomas Reddin was a progressive police pioneer… and newscaster.
The show credits LAPD Chief Thomas Reddin for his technical advice. Jack Webb frequently relied on his expertise. In fact, Reddin even appeared onscreen in the Dragnet 1967 season two finale, "The Big Problem," seen here. Reddin began his term as chief in 1967. He is credited with modernizing the LAPD, pioneering progressive policies such as community policing. He also modernized the communications systems of the LAPD. Reddin resigned in 1969. He became a newscaster for KTLA, earning a salary four times his police paycheck. Perhaps that Dragnet scameo gave him a love of being on camera.