Today marks the 100th birthday of famed television producer Quinn Martin (Irving Martin Cohn, 1922-1987). Back in the day the brand “A Quinn Martin Production” was advertised as a mark of a quality. But you my have often wondered, “Who IS Quinn Martin, and why’s he get a production?”
Martin was the son of B movie film editor Martin G. Cohn (1893-1953), who cut mostly westerns and gangster pictures, including films in the Charlie Chan and Cisco Kid franchises. After some time at UC Berkley and apprenticing under his father and others in post-production, he began working as a producer at Desilu, briefly overseeing such shows as The Untouchables and the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. During this era (1955-1960) he was married to the legendary Lucy writer Madelyn Pugh. He hung out his own shingle in 1960, and began to produce that series of classic cop and action shows with which he would be forever associated, many of which we have written about: The Fugitive (1963-67), The F.B.I. (1965-74), The Invaders (1967-68), Dan August (1970-71, 1980), Cannon (1971-76), The Streets of San Francisco (1972-77), and Barnaby Jones (1973-1978). He also produced the excellent Satanic thriller The Mephisto Waltz (1971), his only theatrically released motion picture, and numerous made-for-tv-movies.
That voice, intoning “A Quinn Martin Production. Tonight’s Episode…” was usually Hank Simms, who later went on to do the same chore for the ZAZ parody Police Squad. Plenty of Quinn Martin love also in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Martin retired from the treadmill of television in 1980 and began developing movies, while also teaching at University and serving on the boards of several arts organizations, including La Jolla Playhouse. He was only 65 when a heart attack took him in 1987.