Unsung actors: William Boyett


William Boyett was one of those actors whose face – and even voice – was very recognizable. Yet few of us knew a name to attach to that enduring TV and movie presence.

Boyett, who passed in December 2004 at 77, had a long career playing stern or foreboding authority figures.

He’s best known as Sgt. MacDonald on the Jack Webb TV series “Adam-12.” Boyett had appeared on Webb’s “Dragnet” and became part of the actor/writer/producer’s repertory company of sturdy, dependable performers.

In the final decades of his life, he made a big impression on audiences who might not have known him as a man infected with a freaky alien presence in “The Hidden,” a wild 1987 science fiction thriller. If you haven’t seen it, seek it out. It’s worth the effort.

If Boyett was as much of a straight-arrow, by-the-book guy as the cops and military officers he portrayed, he’d be puzzled by my choice for favorite of his roles.

MST3K last clear chance

That would be a 1959 educational short, “Last Clear Chance,” in which he played a state police officer who tried to warn a family with young, first-time drivers about the dangers of crossing railroad tracks without looking properly. Of course, tragedy struck by the end of the short film.

It all added up to one of the best “Mystery Science Theater 3000” (MST3K) shorts.

Here’s to Bill Boyett, one of our favorite unsung actors.


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