W. Boyett, 77; Veteran Stage, Television Actor

Times Staff Writer

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 him.”

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 Collins.

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.