Martin Sam Milner was born December 28, 1931 in Detroit, Michigan. His mother, Jerre Martin, originally from Oregon, was a dancer with the Paramount Theater circuit. His father, Sam Gordon Milner, a Polish Jewish immigrant, was a film distributor. The Milners moved to Seattle when Martin was a baby and to Los Angeles soon after. At age 15, Martin’s father got him an agent and he was chosen to play the role of “John Day” in Life with Father (1947), Warner Bros.’ version of Clarence Day, Jr.’s popular Broadway play. Milner contracted polio shortly after filming was completed and his career was put on hold for a year as he recovered from the illness. After graduating from North Hollywood High School and studying for one year at the University of Southern California, Milner worked steadily in films during the years 1949-1960. He appeared in films such as Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), Marjorie Morningstar (1958) and Sweet Smell of Success (1957). He put his career on hold again when he was inducted into the Army in 1952 for two years. Shortly after joining the Army, he was assigned to the Human Research Division, where he directed military training films and served as Master of Ceremonies for a touring show based at Fort Ord, California. Milner married television actress and singer Judy Jones in 1957 and they have four children–Amy, Molly, Stuart, and Andrew.
Milner met Jack Webb during the filming of Halls of Montezuma (1951) and later worked with him on his “Dragnet” radio show as well as the TV series Dragnet (1951). Milner appeared as 17-year-old high school student “Stephen Banner” in the episode “The Big Producer” in 1952. According to Webb’s biography “Just the Facts, Ma’am”, Webb owed Milner money from a card game. When Webb called him to the studio to pay him back, he offered Milner a role in the “Dragnet” radio show. After that, Webb continued to find roles for Milner until he offered him the role of “Pete Malloy” on Adam-12 (1968). Milner continued to appear in films throughout the 1970s and 1980s and made many guest appearances on television shows such as Murder, She Wrote (1984), the “Columbo” made-for-TV movies, MacGyver (1985), and Diagnosis Murder (1993). Milner is an avid fisherman and has been co-host of the syndicated radio talk show “Let’s Talk Hook-up” since 1993. He also hosts fishing trips through “Let’s Talk Hook-Up.”
Apart from the Webb connection, Milner starred as “Tod Stiles” in his own groundbreaking CBS-TV series, Route 66 (1960). The series was notable for its coast-to-coast location shooting, eloquent scripts by co-creator Stirling Silliphant and others, impressive guest casts, and a distinctive theme song by Nelson Riddle. The series allowed Milner to explore a range of characterizations as his nomadic travels in a Corvette convertible took him from job to job all over the United States, where he dug deeply into the lives of the people he encountered there — with traveling companions “Buz Murdock” (George Maharis) and, after Maharis left the show, “Lincoln Case” (Glenn Corbett).
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