Did you notice that the same minor criminal appeared in both Adam-12 and Dragnet?

What's the deal with ''Steve Deal''?

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Both Dragnet and Adam-12 take place in creator Jack Webb's television universe. This led to hard-to-miss crossovers. Kent McCord popped up as Officer Jim Reed several times on Dragnet, while his Adam-12 partner Martin Milner appeared just once as Officer Pete Malloy.

But there were some far more obscure characters bleeding over between shows. One in particular was a memorable member of the underworld. His name may not ring a bell, and two different actors played the crook, but "Steve Deal" made his mark on L.A. crime. And it's pretty interesting to think of the character as a career criminal.

Let's start in 1967, in season two of the color Dragnet reboot with Harry Morgan. In the episode "The Bid Ad," Friday and Gannon bang on Steve Deal's apartment door, "a cheap couple of rooms over a pottery shop." Deal is an ex-con who is suspected of "solicitation to commit murder." He had done "a year for grand theft auto." Though, to be fair, at this point he seems to be on the straight-and-narrow, playing bongos and crafting greeting cards.

Friday and Gannon visit him, however, because he played a personal ad in a "hippie newspaper" saying he would do anything for money. In response, Deal received two offers of marriage and a murder-for-hire offer.

Deal is more of a witness here. Five years later, he apparently fell off the wagon. 

In the Adam-12 episode "Killing Ground," Reed and Malloy stumble upon two fugitive bank robbers in a camper van. The more violent one is nursing a bullet wound in his shoulder. His name? Steve Deal. 

We like to imagine it is the same fellow, an easter egg, if you will. It adds a little more insider narrative to the Jack Webb cinematic universe.

Don Dubbins played Steve Deal on Dragnet. John Davis Chandler was the character on Adam-12.

Dubbins (above left) and Chandler (right) had eerily similar careers. The both appeared on Route 66, The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, The Fugitive, Cannon, The Rookies, Fantasy Island, Police Story, The Incredible Hulk, Simon & Simon and Murder, She Wrote.

Is it all mere coincidence? Perhaps. But we like to imagine there's a little more magic to Hollywood.

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ELEANOR 6 days ago
Yep, not a big deal. The same writer suddenly lacked imagination and used the same name. So you've got to come up with a script with a decent story line and one that will fly with Jack Webb. It has to fit within the 25 minute (or less) timeframe, and it has to use the available sets and vehicles, etc. So naming the characters is the least of the scriptwriter's worries.

On Perry Mason, William Talman (Hamilton Burger) would occasionally flub a character's name in a courtroom scene. And they would leave it in.

One time on the Original Star Trek, McCoy (DeForest Kelley) could not get his lips around a certain name of a creature. He kept on mispronouncing it. So, they changed the name of this creature to the name that he could pronounce.
Wiseguy 8 days ago
The title of the episode is "The Big Ad," not "The Bid Ad." As far as the two characters being the same person, were the two episodes written by the same person? If so, I would say yes, otherwise probably a coincidence.
Barry22 12 days ago
Would have been more impressive if Steve Deal was an arch-criminal on Batman. The BIG Deal!
Craigg 12 days ago
Dude on the right looks like Dwight Yoakam.
Mike Craigg 12 days ago
"Dude on the right" is John Davis Chandler, who played sleazoids in movies and TV from the early '60s (Mad Dog Coll, title role) through the '80s (Adventures In Babysitting, as the boss of the car-stripping ring).
metvfan12547 Mike 12 days ago
my dad's good friend... he was a really nice guy
BrittReid Mike 12 days ago
He was also a bounty hunter in 'The Outlaw Josey Wales.' 'Dying ain't much of a reason for living, boy'.
Craigg Mike 12 days ago
Still looks like Dwight Yoakam.
I heard before he was a good guy.
But Mad Dog Coll was still one of the most unintentionally funny gangster movies ever. Telly Savalas and Jerry Orbach were in it too.
On the other hand, his performance as Sargatanas in Once a Thief (1965) is one of the creepiest characters EVER.
The Steve Buscemi of his day?
rhindle 12 days ago
"the color Dragnet reboot with Harry Morgan"

That was a revival, not a reboot.
HerbF rhindle 12 days ago
Won't call it a revival, as much as a continuation 7 1/2 years later...
daDoctah HerbF 12 days ago
In favor of considering it a reboot: Joe Friday, who had made lieutenant near the end of the black-and-white run's penultimate season and held that rank through the entire season that followed, was suddenly a sergeant again. Now what would cause the LAPD to bust a cop like Friday but still keep him on the force? And then to assign him to a different division every week (one week homicide, then a week later juvenile, then bunco, then narcotics, then public affairs) just to keep him off balance?

I have a theory. Between the two versions of the show there was a case in Arizona involving a guy named Ernesto Miranda, who was let off on a technicality because some cop had failed to inform him of his constitutional rights before he confessed. Thereafter, every police officer in the country had to read those rights off a little card at the time of arrest. And you can just imagine the "old" Joe Friday "forgetting" to cut some low-life criminal scum that much slack, just often enough that his superiors had to say "look, Joe, you're a good cop, but until you can prove that you can toe the line we're going to have to put you on a sort of probation".
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