Kiel Martin's Obituary

Reproduced from the Seattle Times. Published January 2, 1991

Actor Kiel Martin, who played shady detective Johnny ``J.D.'' LaRue on the former television series ``Hill Street Blues,'' has died at age 46.Mr. Martin, a cast regular on the Emmy-winning series, died Friday of cardiovascular collapse due to lung cancer at his desert home in Rancho Mirage, 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles, said Michael Werk, Riverside County deputy coroner.

Mr. Martin was a regular on the daytime soap ``The Edge of Night'' before joining ``Hill Street Blues'' as a sleazy vice cop always in some kind of trouble, usually involving money. The LaRue character routinely tried to snare his fellow officers at the Hill Street station in get-rich-quick schemes that usually went sour.

Born in Pittsburgh but raised in Miami, Mr. Martin freely admitted he was ``trouble as a kid.'' According to his studio biography, his father urged a high school drama coach to allow him to try out for a bit role in ``Finian's Rainbow.'' He got the lead instead.

Mr. Martin began his professional acting career in Florida repertory theatre. After moving to New York in the mid-1960s, he became a stand-up comedian, dockworker and musician. He was signed to a Universal Studios contract in 1967, but his fledgling career suffered a long setback when he crashed his motorcycle into a tree. Mr. Martin broke 15 bones in the accident and spent two years recuperating.

After the popular ``Hill Street'' series was cancelled in 1987, Mr. Martin played a dead man given a new shot at life in ``Second Chance,'' a short-lived Fox television series. His film credits included ``The Panic in Needle Park'' in 1971 and ``The Lolly Madonna War'' in 1973. His other television credits included ``Murder She Wrote,'' ``L.A. Law'' and ``The Blue Knight.''

Mr. Martin is survived by his mother, Eileen Mueller, and daughter Jesse Martin. There will be no funeral service.

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