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A vintage salute to actor who proclaimed '10-4'

A parade of historic police cars marks the 100th birthday of Broderick Crawford, star of the 1950s TV show 'Highway Patrol,' which introduced '10-4' to pop culture.

October 05, 2012|By Bob Pool, Los Angeles Times
  • A dog named Sargent Bono claims the driver's seat of a vintage 1955 Buick police car during the 10-4 event on Hollywood Boulevard. The car is a replica of the one that Broderick Crawford, playing Chief Dan Mathews, drove in the television series "Highway Patrol."
A dog named Sargent Bono claims the driver's seat of a vintage 1955… (Genaro Molina, Los Angeles…)

Ted Saraf flipped on his red lights and leaned on the siren as he passed through the intersection of Cahuenga and Hollywood boulevards.

His 1968 Dodge Coronet has the Pasadena Police Department logo on its doors and old-fashioned squad car lights on its roof. But it was the Los Angeles Police Department escort that prompted drivers to stop.

The Coronet was one of 30 vintage police cars that rolled through Hollywood on Thursday for the 10-4 public safety parade.

Saraf, a 70-year-old retired Pasadena police detective spent $35,000 restoring the old pursuit vehicle. "There's no power steering, so it takes muscle to park," he said. "And the siren sucks so much juice from the battery that you can feel it affect acceleration."

The event, which drew police cars used in the movie "RoboCop" and TV's "Dragnet," "Adam 12," "CHiPs" and "Highway Patrol," also marked what would have been the 100th birthday of Broderick Crawford, whose 1950s show about the CHP was one of television's first police-themed series. Crawford was famed for the line "10-4," also the event's date.

Crowds of camera-toting Hollywood tourists swarmed the cars when the procession stopped near Crawford's star on the Walk of Fame. Tour bus guides, taxi drivers and even some of the costumed characters who hang out around Grauman's Chinese Theatre whipped out cellphones to snap pictures of the police parade.

Saraf's white squad car followed a 1970 Mercury Monterey CHP pursuit vehicle. It's one of 21 old police cars owned by Barry Maiten. "I love history and I grew up watching 'Adam 12' and reruns of 'Highway Patrol,' '' explained the 53-year-old West Los Angeles real estate investor.

Behind him was the unmarked detective's car driven by actor Jack Webb on "Dragnet." Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Ed Godfrey owns the 1967 fully restored Ford Fairlane, which sports a replica of Webb's police sergeant's Badge No. 714 and ID card on its dashboard. "I drive this to work sometimes. Of course, a lot of the younger deputies don't know what the show was about," Godfrey said.

Further back was the car used by fictional police characters Pete Malloy and his rookie partner Jim Reed in the 1968-75 series "Adam 12." The black and white Plymouth Belvedere even has the autograph of one of the show's stars, Kent McCord, on its door, said the car's owner, reserve Los Angeles Police Officer Mark Galoustian. A 1971 Plymouth Satellite used in the 1974 Symbionese Liberation Army shootout was driven by Keith Jackson, a retired Los Angeles police detective who spent 700 hours restoring it.

A 1956 San Fernando Police Department Chevrolet driven by Officer Joel Vasquez carried his 10-year-old daughter, Olivia, who was wearing her own pint-sized San Fernando police uniform.

"Our department used Fords back in those days," Vasquez said. "But our police association bought the Chevy at a cheap price because there are lots of parts for it still around to keep it running. A car like this makes us more approachable to the public at events."

Among those taking part in the parade was actor Larry Wilcox, who portrayed Highway Patrol motorcycle officer Jon Baker in the 1977-83 series "CHiPs," and Hollywood-area City Councilman Tom LaBonge.

The procession featured several replicas of Crawford's black and white 1955 Buick Special, which was unit 21-50 in the pioneering mid-1950s TV series "Highway Patrol." The show was known for its fast-paced editing and close-up photography and its chase scenes were shot on the then-unopened Ventura Freeway in Encino and Sherman Oaks.

One of the cars is owned by the parade's organizer, Gary Goltz, who was a fan of the show as a child. He spent $25,000 refurbishing the cruiser and equipping it with vintage CHP lights and a siren system that plays the show's original theme music.

Goltz, a 59-year-old Upland judo expert who sometimes dresses in a dark suit and fedora like Crawford's Chief Dan Mathews character, eventually became friends with the late actor's son, film editor Kelly Crawford.

"Kelly and I drove this car across Route 66 in August of 2001," Goltz said. "He ended up donating $2 million to the CHP11-99 Foundation to help fallen officers' wives and families."

bob.pool@latimes.com

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