He was the television producer who took chances and ignited imaginations around the world. His shows were legendary and remain repeated to this day. Many owe him a career whilst many thank him for inspiring them in a number of ways. Cult Faction salutes a true Hero of Cult… Quinn Martin.
Quinn Martin was born on May 22nd 1922 in New York City as Irwin Martin Cohn, the second of two children. His father Martin Goodman Cohn was a film editor and producer at MGM; his mother was Anna Messing Cohn.
From age four he was raised in Los Angeles. He graduated from Fairfax High School. He served five years in the United States Army during World War II, enlisting in the Signal Corps at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, California on September 10, 1940. He achieved the rank of sergeant. He changed his name to Quinn Martin (the Quinn came from the pronunciation his friends gave of Cohn, as “Co-Inn”).
While attending the University of California, Berkeley, Martin majored in English, but did not graduate. Martin started his career in television as a film editor at MGM and also worked as manager of post production for various organizations, including Universal Studios (1950–1954), but by the mid-1950s had become an executive producer for Desilu Studios.
His first wife, Madelyn Pugh Davis, was one half of the writing team behind Desilu’s classic I Love Lucy. In 1959 he produced for Desilu Productions a two part special that appeared in season 1 of Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse that became a weekly television show: The Untouchables, which would go on to win Emmy Awards.
In 1960, Martin established his own production company, QM Productions. Series produced by the company were usually introduced with announcer Dick Wesson or Hank Sims announcing the title of the show and then saying, “A Quinn Martin Production”. Images of the stars of the show, followed by the guest stars for that week, were shown and their names announced, followed by the name of that night’s episode, and various to-black effects. In some series such as The Fugitive and The Invaders, its backstory that led to the plot of the series, narrated by the announcer or the star, was told before the show’s guest stars are announced. Most episodes are structured into four “acts” and an “epilogue”, each labelled at the start of each segment with the show title and the act number (or “epilogue”, near the end of the program).
QM Productions produced a string of successful television series during the 1960’s and 1970’s, including The Fugitive, The New Breed, Twelve O’Clock High, The F.B.I., The Invaders, The Streets of San Francisco, Cannon, and Barnaby Jones.
Besides producing sixteen one-hour television network series, he also produced twenty TV movies, including Attack on Terror, Brinks: The Great Robbery, Face of Fear, House on Greenapple Road, and Murder or Mercy. His only feature for the big screen was The Mephisto Waltz, released by Twentieth Century-Fox.
In 1979, a group of investors purchased his wholly self-owned QM Productions and subsequently sold it to Taft Broadcasting. Later in that year, the company was reincorporated into Taft Entertainment Television, though the QM name and logo continued to be used on-screen and for copyright purposes until the last official production was broadcast in 1983.
After selling QM Productions Martin moved to Rancho Santa Fe, California where he became president of the La Jolla Playhouse and the Del Mar Fair Board. He was also involved with business activities developing motion pictures for Warner Bros. with a new company, QM Communications.
Martin was very successful in his hobby as a thoroughbred horse racing owner/trainer; also worked as an adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego’s Warren College, where he also endowed a chair in drama. He established a scholarship for theatre arts and communications students at Santa Clara University.
Sadly, Quinn Martin died of heart failure on September 5th 1987 in his home in Rancho Santa Fe, California at the age of 65 years old.