Sam Melville, the ruggedly handsome co-star of TV's popular but short-lived series "The Rookies," died Thursday night at his Hollywood Hills home.
His friend and publicist, Susan Patricola, said the cause of death evidently was heart failure but that he "was an athlete who was the picture of health." Melville, 52, complained of chest pains some weeks ago, she added, but tests at the time indicated that he was fine.
The pains continued and he was scheduled to undergo further examination when his wife discovered his body. An autopsy is pending.
From its inception in September, 1972, until the series went off the air in June, 1976, Melville portrayed Officer Mike Danko, one of three green and idealistic cops dedicated to more humane methods of police work. The show revolved around the conflict their methods evoked in their more traditional superiors.
Earlier, Melville had been a regular guest star in the old "Gunsmoke" series. In films he had been seen as Dave in 1968's "The Thomas Crown Affair."
His other television appearances included the miniseries "Roughnecks" and as the ex-husband of Amanda King (Kate Jackson) in "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" (1983-87).
His last films were "Fists of Steel" and "Assassination With Cause."
Survivors include his wife, Annie, with whom he played in the local rock band "Alias," his mother, father and two sisters.
Services are scheduled Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at Forest Lawn, Burbank.