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Jack Webb

Jack Webb

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Also Known As: John Randolph,John Randolph Webb Died: December 23, 1982
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Profession: Cast ... actor
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BIOGRAPHY

He may not had ever truly said "Just the facts, ma'am," but Jack Webb was forever immortalized as the hard-nosed Los Angeles Police Detective Joe Friday of "Dragnet," as well as the creator of the hit television series "Adam-12" (NBC 1968-1975) and "Emergency!" (NBC 1972-77). For bringing a positive image to the LAPD with "Dragnet," Webb was given a funeral with full police honors upon his death in 1982. Even his character Sgt. Joe Friday's police badge number #714 was retired by the LAPD. Webb was posthumously given two stars at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for radio and one for television. It was only an appropriate honor given to the creator of one of the most influential police dramas in television history.

Born John Randolph Webb on April 2, 1920 in Santa Monica, California, he was the son of Margaret and Samuel Chester Webb. Webb was abandoned by his father at an early age, which left him as the sole source of financial support for his family by the time he was an adult. For this reason, he was discharged from service from the Army during World War II. Fortunately for Webb, this early hardship indirectly led to a brighter future. With the war raging on in Europe, there was a shortage of talent on the radio back at home. Webb came into the entertainment industry when ABC's KGO Radio tapped him for his own half-hour comedy show, "The Jack Webb Show" in 1946. Although the show only had a limited run, it opened to door for Webb for other radio programs including "Pat Novak for Hire," which starred Raymond Burr, and films such as "He Walked the Night" (1948). It was on "He Walked the Night", where he landed a role as a crime lab technician, that gave him an idea for his own program.

Webb believed that audiences craved realism and conceived an idea for a series based on real cases from the Los Angeles Police Department. Thus Webb created "Dragnet," which premiered on NBC Radio in 1949. With the help of actual LAPD officers such as Chief William H. Parker, "Dragnet" showed a grittier and more realistic approach to police-themed dramas. Webb, who also starred as the lead role of Sgt. Joe Friday, tried to accurately portray police officers as normal, low-key working-class heroes who endured long-hours of tedium and injury in the line of duty. "Dragnet" was not an immediate success, but eventually hit its stride which allowed Webb to expand his influence in Hollywood. In 1950, he joined the cast of the Academy Award-winning film "Sunset Boulevard" as Artie Green. Next, Webb wanted to take "Dragnet" to television. He created his own production company, Mark VII Limited, in order to produce a televised version of "Dragnet." His efforts were finally realized when "Dragnet" (NBC 1951-59) premiered on December of 1951. Webb reprised his role as Sgt. Friday, and brought back the now-iconic ominous theme song and opening narration. The success of "Dragnet" led to its film adaptation in 1954. With falling ratings and the perception that the series was out of touch with youth demographic, the series ended in 1959. However, Webb was resolute in bringing it back. "Dragnet" returned for its second go-round (co-starring Harry Morgan as Joe Friday's new partner Bill Gannon) in 1967 and lasted until 1970.

After "Dragnet," Webb continued to work on other dramatic series through his production company Mark VII Productions. Although many of them didn't last for more than a season, Webb did create a pair of hit dramas in the late 1960s and 1970s. "Adam-12" was another police procedural drama that aired on NBC from 1968 to 1975 and starred Martin Milner and Kent McCord as a veteran and rookie LAPD duo. In 1972, Mark VII Productions launched "Emergency!" (NBC 1972-77). A medical drama that broke away from Webb's previous police shows, "Emergency!" starred Webb's ex-wife, pop singer and actress Julie London, and was followed by six two-hour movies aired after the series ended its regular run. Webb was working on reviving "Dragnet" again when he suffered a fatal heart attack on December 23, 1982 at the age of 62.

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John Randolph "Jack" Webb (April 2, 1920 – December 23, 1982) was an American actor, television producer, director and writer. Born in Santa Monica, California, Webb grew up poor in the Bunker Hill slum section of Los Angeles. He was a graduate of Belmont High School in Los Angeles. After serving as a crewmember of a B-26 Marauder in World War II, he starred in a radio show about a waterfront character who operated as an unlicensed private detective, Pat Novak for Hire which imitates, almost to parody, the hard-boiled style of such writers as Raymond Chandler. viz. "She drifted into the room like 98 pounds of warm smoke. Probably his most famous motion picture role was as the combat-hardened drill instructor on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in the film The D.I. Webb had a featured role as a crime lab technician in the 1948 film He Walked by Night. It was this film that gave Webb the idea for Dragnet. Webb met singer and actress Julie London and they married in 1947 and raised two children. They later divorced. Beginning in 1968, in concert with Robert A. Cinader, Webb produced NBC's popular Adam-12. He was working on scripts for another revival of Dragnet in 1983 with Kent McCord as his partner, when he died of a heart attack in 1982 at the age of 62. He was interred in the Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. Webb was given a funeral with full police honors.

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