William Boyett

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Harry William Boyett
Boyett in the Public Safety Council film, Last Clear Chance (1959)
Harry William Boyett

(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

William Boyett (January 3, 1927 – December 29, 2004)[1] was an American actor best known for his roles in law enforcement dramas on television from the 1950s through the 1990s.

Early years[edit]

Boyett was born in Akron, Ohio, the son of Harry Lee and Margaret D. Boyett. Harry Lee's parents were Dorsey H. and Carrie Evelyn Flowers, who married in McLennan County, Texas, on July 9, 1899. Dorsey and Carrie lived in Waco, Fort. Worth and San Antonio, Texas. Boyett often played roles of characters in uniform. His paternal grandfather, Dorsey, participated in the Spanish American War as a corporal in Company F, 2nd Texas Infantry and was also stationed in Laredo, Texas, in 1917, in charge of all non-commissioned officers in Company M, 37th Infantry, while the United States was in conflict with Mexico.

Carrie remarried and in the 1930 U.S. Census, Harry William is enumerated as "Harry" with Carrie, William Cason, and his older brother, Wallace, at 2103 Proctor Avenue in Waco, Texas. Harry William, who was then known as Harry, attended Waco High School, where he was active in theater, the Rostra Literary Society, the Junior Classical League, Boys Chorus, and as a junior was a Texas Interscholastic League contestant in Declamation. While at Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, he won a Shakespeare competition, which led to acting jobs in radio.[2] The 1940 U.S. Census shows that although he was living in Los Angeles on April 1, 1935, he had returned to Waco, and he was again living with his grandmother, Carrie, and his step-grandfather, William Cason. He later permanently moved with his family to Los Angeles, California. [3]

His father, Harry Lee Boyett, served in World War I in the U.S. Navy. Harry Lee married Margaret on September 4, 1925, in St. Clair County, Michigan, while working as a rubber worker. On a ship's registry sailing from Havana to New Orleans, in October of 1932, he listed his address as Paramount in Hollywood, California. It also reports his birth date is February 15, 1899, and he was born in Waco. He died at age 36 after having emergency surgery. He and his mother, Carrie, are buried in Rosemound Cemetery, in Waco.

Military service[edit]

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". Boyett was typecast as a law-enforcement officer, most notably as Dan Matthews (Broderick Crawford)'s patrol officer on Highway Patrol, where he appeared in 65 episodes, either as Sgt. Johnson or Sgt. Williams, between 1955 and 1959; Boyett also portrayed a policeman in such diverse series as Gang Busters; The Man Behind the Badge; I Led 3 Lives; M Squad; The Detectives; Sea Hunt; Bat Masterson; Batman; Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.; and Star Trek: The Next Generation.[4]

Jack Webb, the executive producer of Adam-12, selected Boyett for the role of LAPD Sergeant. "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 bailiff in the 1954 movie version.)[4] Boyett appeared as MacDonald on Adam-12 for its entire 1968–1975 run.

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, The A-Team, Gunsmoke (S7E24’s “Coventry”), Knight Rider, Space Patrol, Rescue 8, Whirlybirds, 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 appeared as Dr. Dupree in 3 episodes of How The West Was Won 1978


Boyett also acted in several motion pictures, such as The Hidden (1987) and The Rocketeer (1991).[3] Boyett earned much praise for his highly unusual role in 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 well-known short public safety film entitled Last Clear Chance (1959) as Patrolman Hal Jackson. Interest in the film was renewed by its appearance in a 1993 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Boyett's 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, five days before his 78th birthday, from pneumonia and kidney failure.[8][9]


Selected Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1953 Death Valley Days Jim Hardwicke Episode "11,000 Miners Can't Be Wrong"
1955 Highway Patrol Sergeant Johnson or Sergeant Williams 46 Episodes
1957 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Captain Davidson Season 3 Episode 5: "Silent Witness"
1959 Have Gun - Will Travel Season 4, Episode 7 "Fragile"
1963 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Radio Operator Season 2 Episode 9: "The Dividing Wall"
1964 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Young Policeman Season 2 Episode 21: "Beast in View"
1966 Get Smart Skipper Season 2, Episode 9 "Rub-a-Dub-Dub...Three Spies in a Sub"
1968 Adam-12 Sergeant Mac Donald 127 Episodes
1972 Mission Impossible Louis Parnell Episode "Leona"
1988 Star Trek: The Next Generation Lieutenant Dan Bell Season 1, Episode 12 "The Big Goodbye"


  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. ^ McLellan, Dennis (Jan 1, 2005). "W. Boyett, 77; Veteran Stage, Television Actor". Los Angeles Times. Born in Akron, Ohio, in 1927 and raised in Waco, Texas, Boyed moved to Los Angeles with his family in the early 1940s. While at Dorsey High School, he won the Southern California Shakespeare competition, which led to acting jobs on radio.
  3. ^ a b "William Boyett". Indiana Gazette. March 22, 1986. p. 4. Retrieved April 6, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  4. ^ a b "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 Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  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 Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  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 reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]