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William Boyett (January 3, 1927 – December 29, 2004)[1] was an American actor best known for his work as the low-key but authoritative Sergeant William 'Mac' MacDonald on the police drama Adam-12.

William Boyett
William Boyett.jpg
Boyett in a 1959 Public Safety Council video
Born(1927-01-03)January 3, 1927
DiedDecember 29, 2004(2004-12-29) (aged 77)
Years active1951–1998
  • Willagene Wither (1947-1950)
  • Joan Reynolds (1957–2004) (his death) (2 children)
ChildrenOne daughter, one son


Early yearsEdit

Boyett was born in Akron, Ohio, and lived there until the 1940s, when he moved with his family to Los Angeles, California. He won a Shakespeare competition in high school which led to acting jobs in radio.[2]

Military serviceEdit

Boyett served in the Navy during World War II and afterward performed on the stage in both New York City and Los Angeles.


In 1954, Boyett played respected settler Jim Hardwicke in the Death Valley Days episode "11,000 Miners Can't Be Wrong". It details the competition between Columbia and Sacramento to be the capital of California. When he informs the sheriff (Glenn Strange) that he had killed a man in self-defense, Hardwicke is forced to stand trial. Political influence coerces the jury to find Hardwicke guilty. His lawyer, Ed Barrett (Gordon Barnes), develops a bizarre scheme to free his client from the hangman's noose. Barrett steals from a safe in the local bank a petition with 11,000 signatures of persons who want Columbia to be the capital, rewrites the first page to call for a pardon for Hardwicke, and appeals to the governor, who is impressed that so many signed. The governor orders Hardwicke's release, but Columbia loses out to Sacramento.[3]

Boyett was often cast as a law-enforcement officer, and portrayed that role in such diverse series as Gang Busters, The Man Behind the Badge, I Led 3 Lives, M Squad, The Detectives, Sea Hunt, Batman and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.[4]

Jack Webb, the executive producer of Adam-12 selected Boyett for the role of Sgt. "Mac" MacDonald after several performances (such as playing Sgt. Sam Hunter) in both iterations of Webb's Dragnet.[5] (Boyett can also be seen uncredited as a Baliff in the 1954 movie version.)[4] Boyett stayed with the series for its entire 1968–1975 run. Boyett also supported Broderick Crawford in 64 episodes of Highway Patrol as either Officer Johnson or Sergeant Williams.[4]

He also made eight guest appearances on CBS's Perry Mason throughout the series' nine-year run, mostly in law-enforcement roles. In 1962, he played slain police officer Otto Norden in "The Case of the Hateful Hero". The defendant was his rookie partner James Anderson played by Richard Davalos, cousin of series regular Lt. Anderson played by Wesley Lau. He also played a corporate executive, Buck Osborn, in the 1961 episode, "The Case of the Renegade Refugee". In the 1961 My Three Sons episode, "Fire Watch", he was a forest ranger.

Boyett appeared in a number of television programs, such as Official Detective,[6] Navy Log,[7] Laramie, Tales of the Texas Rangers, I Spy, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (uncredited; "The Secret Sceptre Affair" from 1965), The Andy Griffith Show, Family Affair, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, The Rockford Files, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The A-Team, Knight Rider, Rescue 8, Ripcord, Murphy Brown and Night Court. He also appeared in numerous episodes of Emergency! as Chief McConnikee of Los Angeles County Fire Department's Battalion 14.


Boyett also acted in several motion pictures, such as The Hidden (1987) and The Rocketeer (1991).[2] Boyett earned much praise for The Hidden as a hospital patient named Jonathan P. Miller, possessed by an alien being with a taste for red Ferraris and rock and roll music. He also appeared in a short public safety film entitled Last Clear Chance (1959) as Patrolman Hal Jackson. Other small roles as a police officer include the crime dramas Vice Squad (1953) with Edward G. Robinson and Shield For Murder (1954) with Edmond O'Brien.


Boyett died December 29, 2004, in Mission Hills, California, at age 77, of complications from pneumonia and kidney failure.[8][9]



  1. ^ Aaker, Everett (August 30, 2006). Encyclopedia of Early Television Crime Fighters. McFarland & Company. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-7864-6409-8. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "William Boyett". Indiana Gazette. March 22, 1986. p. 4. Retrieved April 6, 2016 – via  
  3. ^ "11,000 Miners Can't Be Wrong on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "William Boyett (1927–2004)". IMDb. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  5. ^ "TV listing". Naugatuck Daily News. January 2, 1969. p. 11. Retrieved October 2, 2017 – via  
  6. ^ CTVA 'Classic TV Archive-US Crime Series'
  7. ^ "'The Gimmick' Is 'Navy Log' Drama". The Coshocton Democrat. January 11, 1956. p. 4. Retrieved October 2, 2017 – via  
  8. ^ "William Boyett, actor who starred in "Adam-12," dead at 77". KESQ-TV News. December 29, 2004. Archived from the original on January 15, 2005.
  9. ^ McLellan, Dennis (January 1, 2005). "W. Boyett, 77; Veteran Stage, Television Actor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2017.)

Further readingEdit

  • Associated Press (January 3, 2005). Actor William Boyett, 77, Akron native, dies in L.A. Akron Beacon Journal, p. B6.

External linksEdit