Franklin McWhirter was born on September 26, 1942 at French
Hospital, located at the corner of College and Hill in downtown
Los Angeles, California.
grew up in the San Gabriel Valley town of Baldwin Park, California.
right: Kent on his first horse, Toby. Kent's dad Bert McWhirter
is at right.
child of hard-working parents, Kent learned responsibility at
an early age. He was handling his first horse, Toby, at the age
At ten he
began working at his father’s Richfield gas station that
was located near what is now the intersection of the 10 and 605
1954 Kent got a job at Brackett Field Airport in La Verne, California
with the help of a family friend. Unable to be legally paid at
twelve years old, he instead was given flying lessons in exchange
for his work. For the next five years Kent worked weekends and
summers at the airport.
on the football team at Baldwin Park High School. After graduation, he
attended Citrus Junior College and then accepted a football scholarship
to the University of Utah in 1962. It was during this time that perhaps
the two most important events in Kent’s young life occurred.
servicing a plane
at Brackett Field
McCord (left) with friend Ricky Nelson
February of 1961, a friend asked Kent if he would like to participate
in a touch football game. This was no ordinary game, as Kent would
be playing on a team captained by Ricky Nelson, and none other than
Elvis Presley would lead the opposing squad. As a result of this
game, Kent began a friendship with Ricky Nelson that quickly led
to his first acting job on the immensely popular series The Adventures
of Ozzie and Harriet. At first a background player, Kent soon
became a regular on the show, and would appear as part of America’s
favorite family for the next five years. Kent began to take acting
much more seriously, and finally made the decision to pursue a career
as an actor. During this time he worked on a mulitude of films
and television shows doing bits, background and stunts.
big moment in Kent’s life took place on July 14, 1962. This was
the day that he married his high school sweetheart, Cynthia Lee
working on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Kent 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, Viva
Las Vegas, Girl Happy, Kissin’ Cousins, and
November of 1965, Universal put Kent under contract and immediately sent
him to work. He appeared in shows such as McHale’s Navy and
and Cynthia on
their wedding day
with Bob Cinader
and Martin Milner
also tallied several appearances on Jack Webb’s Dragnet.
It was his appearances on Dragnet that led Bob Cinader
and Jack Webb, the producers, to cast Kent as one the stars in
their brand new series: Adam-12.
partner Martin Milner, Kent helped propel Adam-12 to the
top of the ratings and into television history.
phenomenon, Adam-12 aired from 1968-1975, a span of 174
episodes that continue to air today.
on a top rated television show offered Kent many tremendous opportunities.
Among his favorites was being a guest at the Indianapolis 500 and
being trackside for the race itself. A lifelong racing fan, this
was a special moment for Kent and led to his continued involvement
in the sport. He has competed as a driver in automobile races such
as the annual Toyota Pro Celebrity Challenge in Long Beach, California,
and Watkins Glen, New York. He has also competed in several
professional racing series in the Sports Car Club of America and
IMSA, in such events as the 12 Hours of Sebring.
moment was when legendary film director John Ford, who was a big fan of
the show, visited the Adam-12 set. Being able to sit with the great
director and hear his wonderful stories and fond memories was an incredible
thrill for Kent, who grew up admiring Ford’s films.
Robert Hays (left)
as Officer Jim Reed
and Martin Milner have made numerous personal appearances together, including
co-hosting the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for NBC. Always wanting
to give something back to the public, Kent and Martin also hosted numerous
telethons across the country, including the Variety Club Telethon in Nashville,
Tennessee. This was a particularly memorable event, as the “local” talent
included many legendary performers such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings,
and Roger Miller.
starred with Barry Van Dyke in the ABC series Galactica 1980,
in the 1989 NBC series UNSUB. He has recently appeared in recurring
roles in the NBC series Seaquest DSV, and the USA Networks
Silk Stalkings, and Pacific Blue, as well asthe SCI-FI Channels
and the hit CBS series Jag.
his many other television, film, and theatrical credits are Marcus Welby,
Ironside, The Outsider, Ba Ba Blacksheep, The Love Boat, Monsters, MacGyver,
Private Eye, The Highwayman, J.J. Starbuck, 21 Jump Street, Murder, She
Wrote, DarkSkies, Lawless, Diagnosis Murder, Joey and Dad, Merv Griffin,
Laugh-In, Hollywood Squares, The Tonight Show, and others. Movies
for television include Dragnet 66, The Outsider, Shadow Over Elveron,
Jigsaw, Breakout, Beg, Borrow or Steal, Telethon, Pine Canyon is Burning
(a pilot for NBC), For Heaven’s Sake, Nashville Beat (a pilot for
The Nashville Network, which Kent Executive Produced and Co-Created), DarkJustice,
a CBS M.O.W., and Accidental Meeting for USA Cable.
with Peter Graves in Airplane II.
Danny Glover In Predator 2
movies include The Young Warriors, Did you Hear about the One the Traveling
Saleslady, Conquest of Earth, Airplane II-The Sequel, Predator II, Illicit
Behavior, and Return of the Living Dead III-Ashes. His last legitimate
theater appearance was on the famous Kenley Circuit In Tunnel of Love
with Martin Milner. He has just completed roles in the movies Run Ronnie
Run, Megiddo-The Omega Code 2, and stars with Erin Grey in Woman’s
For ten years,
Kent was a member of the Celebrity All Stars Basketball team that played
throughout Southern California to help raise money to support various charities.
has also worked for his fellow actors, having served on The Screen
Actor’s Guild’s Board of Directors, as well as serving four years
as its first Vice President. He chaired the Children’s Committee,
which helped fashion protections for child performers throughout
the world. In 1999, Kent received the prestigious Ralph Morgan
Award, named after The Screen Actors Guild’s first President, which
is given by SAG members to honor another member’s devotion to the
cause of actors.
the Ralph Morgan Award from the Screen Actors Guild
and Marty receive the Jack Webb Award from LA Police Chief Bernard
October 14, 2000, Kent and Martin Milner received The Jack
Webb Award given by the LA Police Historical Society for their
support of the LAPD and the community it serves.
Kent and Cynthia
are the proud parents of daughters Kristen, and Megan, an actress,
and their son, Michael. Kent continues to work, and still looks
forward to the next great role or adventure to add to an already
illustrious career and life.
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