There is always a twinge when an actor or pop star dies, but when Ted Storck, of Morris, learned of actor Martin Milner’s death in early September, he lost a mentor of sorts.
Milner, who portrayed Los Angeles Police Officer Pete Malloy in the TV show Adam 12, was joined by actor Kent McCord who played rookie cop Jim Reed. The actors’ portrayals and the show’s stories, based often on real cases, prompted many, like Storck, to join the Los Angeles Police Department.
It was quite a move for the Morris area farm boy who, with his two brothers, attended the West Central School of Agriculture in Morris.
“I guess, like most farm kids, we just thought we’d end up farming,” Storck said.
Instead of farming, however, Storck joined the Navy in 1956 assuming that one day he might be drafted. He not only wanted to get his military service “over with” at the time, he also wanted to get on with his life.
His journey took several turns. He spent two years in the Far East and then returned to Morris where he worked a year at the KMRS radio station. Storck enrolled at the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1963. He was a reporter at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., before getting a commission as an ensign in the Navy Reserve.
He was asked to go on active duty and began working in the Pentagon’s photo department starting in 1966 and, after earning his Master’s degree from Syracuse, went to the Vietnam war in 1967.
Storck called San Diego home for a year after his service and was a photo officer for the in-country Navy, he said. He eventually became a San Diego City Reserve Police Officer, putting in just over 500 hours his first year.
“I enjoyed the work,” he said. “I thought maybe I should join the police department…I watched Adam 12 and I decided I wanted to be part of the LAPD, regarded as the finest in the nation.”
He applied, but, in the meantime, was transferred back to the Pentagon.
“I watched Adam 12 and still felt a tug to join the LAPD,” Storck added. “Sometimes I got homesick for Los Angeles even though I had never lived there. Adam 12 made it feel like I knew the city. Finally, after many many sleepless nights, I again applied to the LAPD. I flew to Los Angeles from Washington, D.C., took the tests and physicals and was told they were only selecting 5 percent of the applicants, but I was one of that.”
He got that news in December 1971, but he was turning 36 on Feb. 27, 1972. The LAPD had a cutoff of age 35.
Storck turned in his resignation letter to the Navy, but things dragged on, he said.
He was almost 36 when the LAPD said they’d waive the extra month of age. He began training at the Police Academy on March 8, 1972.
“I was the oldest man to enter the Academy,” he said. “I was often called ‘the old man.’ It wasn’t until graduation day that a couple of my classmates told the sergeant in charge that I was the only reason they stuck it out. The physical training was atrocious.”
One of his fellow classmates had said they thought if the “old man” could do it, they could, too.
“When Marty Milner died, I thought how that show sent me toward the LAPD,” he said. “I only spent three years on the department, but I never regretted a minute of it. Oh, a few times when the physical training got hard, I wished I was back behind a desk in the Pentagon. But, when LAPD Chief Davis pinned my badge on, I was so proud. I was one of Los Angeles’ finest.”
They called Milner and McCord the Boy Scouts since nothing ever went wrong when the two were on duty.
“They usually solved the crime in 30 minutes,” he said.
Years later, when visiting the TV studio, he was given the magnetic seal put on the car the two actors drove in Adam 12.
“I never did work ‘1-Adam-12,’ but did work ‘8-Adam-12,’” he said.
Others recognized his feat joining the LAPD force while in his mid-30s. The Westside Daily Paper in Los Angeles interviewed Storck for a story they called “LAPD Officer left the boat for the beat.” A TV station did the same. Ironically his interviewer was a U of M classmate.
“Neither of us knew we had moved to Los Angeles,” he said.
He liked his job in the department’s public affairs division, but Storck wanted to be his own boss, he said. He purchased a radio station in Wayne, Neb., and, over time, others in Thief River Falls, Minn., and Ukiah and Red Bluff, Calif.
Now Storck, who retired as a Navy Reserve commander, spends his summers in Morris and winters in Arizona. But he’ll always remember the influence a TV show had on his career and the actors who so accurately portrayed the officers of the LAPD.