The actor received a touching tribute from LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck, who praised his depiction of a "tough yet compassionate cop"

Credit: Everett Collection

Martin Milner, a veteran actor known for work on TV dramas such as Adam-12 and Route 66, has died, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department confirms to PEOPLE. Milner died at his home in L.A. Sunday at the age of 83.

Milner made his big-screen debut in 1947’s Life With Father, in which he played John Day, son to William Powell’s fiery patriarch Clarence Day. He went on to appear in John Wayne‘s Sands of Iwo Jima in 1949 and Operation Pacific in 1951, before transitioning to TV with several appearances in the classic police procedural Dragnet beginning in 1952.

In 1960, he rose to greater prominence as the star of Route 66, which lasted for four seasons on CBS and centered on two young men traveling the United States in a Chevrolet Corvette in search of adventure.

But Milner is best remembered for his turn as seasoned LAPD officer Pete Molloy in Adam-12, which ran from 1968 to 75 on NBC. The show was praised as depicting police work in a more realistic manner than previous series, and Milner’s performance inspired generations of future police officers – including LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck.

“Adam-12 and Martin Milner embodied the spirit of the LAPD to millions of viewers,” Beck said in a statement Monday. “His depiction of a professional and tough yet compassionate cop led thousands of men and women applying to become LAPD officers, including me. Godspeed Martin, you will live forever in our hearts.”

In 1995, Milner told PEOPLE he was happy to leave the limelight behind after largely retiring from acting.

“I was never a celebrity – just a working actor,” Milner said, adding his passions were “family and fishing, in that order.”

Milner is survived by his wife, Judith Bess “Judy” Jones, a former singer and actress whom he married in 1957; daughter Molly, and sons Stuart and Andrew. His daughter Amy died of acute myeloid leukemia in 2004.