Los Angeles Times
January 1, 2005
W. Boyett, 77; Veteran Stage,
His credits included “Perry Mason,” “Sea
Hunt” and “Highway Patrol.” Later, he acted in “Knot’s Landing” and “General
Hospital,” among other TV series
William Boyett, a veteran stage, screen and television
character actor best known for playing Sgt. "Mac" MacDonald on the
TV series "Adam-12," has died. He was 77.
Boyett, a longtime resident of Studio City, died Wednesday of complications
from pneumonia and kidney failure at Holy Cross Hospital in Mission Hills,
said his daughter, Suzy Boyett.
Boyett's early television credits in the 1950s included "Playhouse
90," "Four Star Playhouse," "Perry Mason" and
"Sea Hunt." He also had two recurring roles — as Officer Johnson
and Sgt. Ken Williams — on the 1955-59 police drama "Highway
Patrol," starring Broderick Crawford.
Over the years, Boyett showed up frequently on series such as "Family
Affair," "My Three Sons," "Emergency!" and
"Knot's Landing." He also played the father of Luke Spencer
(Anthony Geary) on "General Hospital."
His work with actor-producer Jack Webb on both the 1950s and '60s versions of
"Dragnet" led Webb to cast the barrel-chested actor with the
gravelly voice to play the role of the low-key but authoritative Sgt.
MacDonald on "Adam-12," the 1968-75 police drama that starred
Martin Milner and Kent McCord.
"He's one of the last [members] of the Jack Webb stock company,"
McCord told The Times on Friday. "Bill was one of those steady
performers you could count on. He was honest in his performance: He conveyed
truthfulness, which is what Jack required from everybody who worked for
And, McCord added, "Bill was a delight to work with, and made it one of
the greatest pleasures of being on a series for seven years where you had
such compatibility among all of us. We had our own stock company [on
"Adam-12"]. It really was a fun show to be on."
Among Boyett's other credits are the miniseries "How the West Was
Won" and the films "The Rocketeer" and "The Hidden."
His distinctive voice also was heard often in voice-over work, including
national commercials for Hamm's beer and Soft Scrub.
Born in Akron, Ohio, in 1927 and raised in Waco, Texas, Boyett moved to Los
Angeles with his family in the early 1940s. While at Dorsey High School, he won
the Southern California High School Shakespeare competition, which led to
acting jobs on radio.
He attended USC, where he majored in radio and television. After serving in
the Navy in the Pacific during World War II, he appeared on stage in New
York, including a small role in "Mister Roberts."
He later appeared in numerous Los Angeles stage productions.
In addition to his daughter, Boyett is survived by his wife of 48 years,
Joan; son, Keven; two granddaughters; and his brothers, John Olafson and Wallis
A private memorial service will be held next week. Instead of flowers, the
family suggests that donations in Boyett's name be made to the Motion Picture
and Television Fund or the Music Center Education Division.
The program at the service, prepared by his daughter, is available:
The City of Los Angles presented a
tribute to the Boyett family.
Notes from Gary Goltz - January 5, 2005, A big final 10-4 to 30-16!
I attended Bill Boyett's funeral today. It was by
all accounts the most upbeat as well as the largest service of this kind I
can remember being at. There was no
casket or body on display. His friends and kids all talked about his
wonderful life and the impact he had on them. Highway Patrol was
discussed as well as Bill's relationship with Brod. I sat with Art
Gilmore and thought to myself that Bill's and Art's are the most memorable
voices from the 50's and 60's. Across the room was Kent McCord.
Pictures of Bill from Highway Patrol and Adam-12 where everywhere.
Had I had the opportunity to speak, I would have said that I was proud
represent Bill's millions of fans worldwide. I would have told them
about the many entries in the guestbook on our website from members of the
law enforcement community that were inspired by shows like Highway Patrol and
At the end of the ceremony a bagpipe was blown which seemed appropriate for a
guy who portrayed police officers just about better then anybody.
During the reception a video montage of Bill in Highway Patrol played on the
big screen in the front of the room. As I was leaving, I looked back
one more time and saw Bill's family and friends socializing with the image of
Brod and Bill flying in a Bell 47 in the background. I felt very
fortunate to have gotten to know one of my TV heroes personally and his
lovely wife over the last 7 years.