James McEachin has played more than just cops, even after you factor in things like FBI agents, IRS agents, and private detectives who used to be cops. Still, he’s played a lot of cops, unto portraying the cop who arrested Perry Mason’s clients in the made-for-TV movies before Raymond Burr’s death. I grew up watching him as a cop; for one thing, he was a guest on Emergency! However, yes, I’ve seen him in other roles over the years.
Like James Garner, McEachin served in Korea. In fact, he received considerably more citations than Garner, and from what I can tell, none of his are from being shot in the rear. As it happens, he was one of only two survivors of the ambush of his unit, and indeed he nearly died himself. Like Garner, though, he didn’t receive some of his awards for decades—he didn’t even know he was awarded the Silver Star until a California congressman searched his record just over fifteen years ago now. It’s when he got his Purple Heart, too, but I’m quite sure he knew he was qualified for that one.
Upon returning to the US, he initially spent time as both a police officer and a fireman, then got into music producing. He might even be the Jimmy Mack that Martha and the Vandellas were singing about; it’s the name he was using at the time. The song seems to have come out at about the same time that McEachin got put under contract at Universal. That makes it reasonable that it’s he whom Martha is begging to come back. It is entirely possible, though, that it’s just that he has a name that scans well and rhymes with a lot of things.
At Universal, he had the kind of steady career on which the entertainment industry relies. On one of his two Columbo appearances, he played a projectionist who gave Columbo the clue he needed to solve the murder of a television executive. He played different cops on Adam-12 and Emergency! Fitting, given the shows’ complicated relationship with one another. (The cops appear in an early Emergency!, but a later one involves Johnny’s trying to find out how an episode of Adam-12 ended.) He’s done three movies with Clint Eastwood, probably most notably Play Misty For Me. He is definitely one of those familiar faces, especially of ‘70s and ‘80s TV.
In his sixties, he semi-retired from acting and began writing, and he’s gotten quite a lot of praise for that as well. He seems to read his own audio books, from what I can tell. He’s made a few short films of his own, making his directorial debut in 2007, at the age of 77. He hasn’t done much since then, from what I can tell, but be fair—he’s 92 now. He’s outlived practically everyone with whom he’s worked in his assorted careers. He’s allowed to just sit around and take naps if that’s what he wants to do, and it’s mostly only in entertainment where we’re surprised that people choose to retire.