4 times Kent McCord played a police officer before Adam-12
He had lots of experience before playing rookie cop Jim Reed!
Kent McCord is undoubtedly most famous for portraying Officer Jim Reed on the late-'60s/early-'70s police procedural Adam-12. But did you know that wasn’t his first time playing a cop on TV?
He began his career in small uncredited movie roles and appeared many times on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet through a real-life friendship with Ricky Nelson.
As he won more speaking roles, a pattern began to emerge.
The squared-jawed, clean-cut young actor was cast as a police officer multiple times. This led to numerous appearances on one of the most popular cop shows of the time, Dragnet, where he caught the eye of producer and star, Jack Webb. When it came time to cast the rookie officer for a new show about patrolmen, Webb knew exactly who he wanted!
Here are the four times Kent McCord played a police officer before making his mark as Officer Jim Reed on Adam-12.
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1. Run for Your Life
The first time Kent McCord played a cop on TV was in the 1960s thriller Run for Your Life. The series starred Ben Gazzara as a lawyer who finds out he has less than two years to live. McCord appeared in the season-two episode "The Assassin" as an unnamed policeman. Coincidentally, Martin Milner, the other half of the Adam-12 buddy cop duo, guest starred in a Run for Your Life episode that aired two weeks before McCord's. Milner and McCord started playing Officers Jim Reed and Pete Malloy just one year later.
McCord's second police portrayal was in the very first episode of Ironside. The series followed Raymond Burr as detective Robert T. Ironside, who never lets his wheelchair stop him from solving the case. McCord had a small role as a motorcycle patrolman named Kellogg.
3. The Outsider
McCord was again credited with a job title and last name, Officer Dutton, for his third law enforcement role. It came in the TV movie The Outsider which served as the pilot for the show of the same name. Darren McGavin starred as David Ross, an ex-con turned private detective. The series only lasted one season but Kent McCord did appear on it again, in episode 12, but not as a policeman.
The most well-known instances of pre-Adam-12 Kent McCord police roles are on the 1960s Dragnet. He appeared on the series eight times, seven times before Adam-12 premiered. He is credited as “Officer Reed” in his last two appearances before starring in his own show. That leaves five other times where McCord played a cop on Dragnet without any connection to Adam-12, but who’s counting? One memorable appearance sees him play accused officer Paul Culver in the episode “The Interrogation.” It takes place almost entirely in one room as Sergeant Friday and Detective Gannon question Culver about his possible involvement in a robbery while working undercover.
Jack Webb took a liking to Kent, and suggested the name change for professional purposes.