A touch football game against The King of Rock and Roll led Kent McCord to a career in Hollywood
McCord went from lining up against Elvis to appearing in his movies and becoming a Hollywood star.
Kent McCord will always be associated with role of officer Jim Reed from the ever-popular police procedural crime drama Adam-12.
Before he became the rookie cop next to officer Pete Malloy, played by Martin Milner, McCord had a pretty versitile set of skills outside of the acting realm.
McCord was born in Los Angeles but not into stardom. He learned hard work at a young age, holding multiple jobs before he was even a teenager. According to his website bio, he worked at his father's gas station at the age of just 12.
From there, McCord got a job through a family friend at Brackett Gield Airport in La Verne, California. A pre-teen, McCord couldn't legally accept money for his work, but instead received flying lessons in exchange for labor. Over the next handful of years, McCord worked weekends and summers at the airport.
As time went on, McCord became quite the product on the football field and "starred" at Baldwin Park High School. After high school, it was his love for the gridiron that led him to say yes to an offer from a fellow college student to participate in a touch football game.
"This was no ordinary football game, as Kent would be playing on a team captained by Ricky Nelson, and none other than Elvis Presley would lead the opposing squad," McCord's website states.
Through the football field, whether it was touch or tackle, McCord developed a friendship with Nelson, who played himself on the radio and television series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. That friendship soon led to McCord's initial acting opportunities, first as a background player and extra, but eventually to much more.
"I got a five-year role-playing Rick's fraternity brother in Ozzie and Harriet," McCord said in a DailyJournal article from 2022.
His first on-screen speaking part came in the episode "Rick, the Host" when he said two words: "Rick who?"
"Ozzie could have picked anyone for the role, and I'm sure he chose me because I was Rick's friend," McCord said. "But those two little words I first spoke changed my life."
He was Ricky Nelson's friend thanks to that touch football game opposite Elvis Presley. Eventually, McCord changed paths from the football field to the acting world, even though he had a football scholarship to the University of Utah in 1962.
According to his website, McCord "was asked to screen test at Universal Studios for a long term contract. While waiting for the studio to sign him, he continued working on other shows including several of Elvis Presley's films."
In 1965, under contract at Universal, McCord appeard in McHale's Navy and The Virginian. He also had several appearances on Dragnet, before he was cast in a co-starring role on Adam-12.
174 episodes of the cop drama later, McCord's Hollywood stardom was etched in history.
Though we don't know the score of that touch football game between Nelson and Elvis, it's clear McCord left that experience a winner.