Jack Webb


Actor
Jack Webb

About

Also Known As
John Randolph, John Randolph Webb
Died
December 23, 1982

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 h...

Notes

Webb was inducted posthumously into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1993.

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.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Chase (1973)
Director
Emergency! (1972)
Director
O'Hara, United States Treasury: Operation Cobra (1971)
Director
The Last Time I Saw Archie (1961)
Director
-30- (1959)
Director
-30- (1959)
Director
The D.I. (1957)
Director
Pete Kelly's Blues (1955)
Director
Dragnet (1954)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Cowboyz (1998)
O'Hara, United States Treasury: Operation Cobra (1971)
Narration
The Last Time I Saw Archie (1961)
Bill Bowers
-30- (1959)
Sam Gatlin
-30- (1959)
The D.I. (1957)
Technical Sergeant Jim Moore
Pete Kelly's Blues (1955)
Pete Kelly
Dragnet (1954)
Sergeant Joe Friday
Appointment with Danger (1951)
Joe Regas
You're in the Navy Now (1951)
Ensign Anthony Barbo
Halls of Montezuma (1951)
[Sgt.] Correspondent Dickerman
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Artie Green
Dark City (1950)
Augie
The Men (1950)
Norm [Butler]
Sword in the Desert (1949)
Hoffman
Hollow Triumph (1948)
Bullseye
He Walked by Night (1948)
Lee

Writer (Feature Film)

Lonely Place (2001)
From Short Story

Producer (Feature Film)

Little Mo (1978)
Executive Producer
Log of the Black Pearl (1975)
Executive Producer
Mobile Two (1975)
Executive Producer
The Rangers (1974)
Executive Producer
Chase (1973)
Producer
Emergency! (1972)
Executive Producer
Hec Ramsey (1972)
Executive Producer
O'Hara, United States Treasury: Operation Cobra (1971)
Executive Producer
The Man From Galveston (1963)
Executive Producer
The Last Time I Saw Archie (1961)
Producer
-30- (1959)
Producer
-30- (1959)
Producer
The D.I. (1957)
Producer
Pete Kelly's Blues (1955)
Producer

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

Cowboyz (1998)
Production Manager

Director (Special)

Sam (1977)
Director

Cast (Special)

Jack Benny's Second Farewell Show (1974)

Producer (Special)

The 25th Man (1982)
Executive Producer
Sam (1977)
Executive Producer
Clinic on 18th Street (1974)
Executive Producer

Cast (Short)

24 Hour Alert (1955)
Himself

Life Events

Videos

Movie Clip

He Walked By Night (1948) - Hand Me That Hammer Crime-lab whiz Lee (Jack Webb) works some magic for cops Jones (James Cardwell) and Brennan (Scott Brady), impressing Captain Breen (Roy Roberts) in He Walked By Night, 1948.
-30- (1959) - Leaving Girls Around Closer to a love scene, or anything intimate or personal, than any producer, director and star Jack Webb (as editor Sam Gatlin) ever played on (TV’s) Dragnet(1951-1959), his young second wife Peggy (Whitney Blake) visits the newsroom, rain still falling, their topics hot then heavy, in the newspaper drama -30-, 1959.
-30- (1959) - The Woman's Angle Neurotic but determined newsroom writer Jan (Nancy Valentine) is baffled when her assault on night-shift editor Sam Gatlin (producer and director Jack Webb) succeeds, city editor Bathgate (Willian Conrad) concurring, in -30-, 1959.
-30- (1959) - Conditions That Prevail Opening scene, city editor Bathgate (William Conrad) toying with copy boy Collins (David Nelson, Ozzie and Harriet's son), veteran colleagues smirking, from director, producer and star Jack Webb's -30-, 1959tbd
Pete Kelly's Bues (1955) - Hard Hearted Hannah Jack Webb, the producer, director and band-leader title character narrates about prohibition-era Kansas City rackets, then stumbles upon an improbably good local singer, Ella Fitzgerald in her cameo, with a tune she once recorded, by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen, in Pete Kelly's Blues, 1955.
Pete Kelly's Bues (1955) - Real Egg-Beater Producer, director and title character Jack Webb, with his band (Lee Marvin of note) in tow, shows up at the shindig thrown by Kansas City party girl Ivy (Janet Leigh, not a singer but a good sport) as she's coaxed to perform, tune by Jesse Greer and Benny Davis, in Pete Kelly's Blues, 1955.
Pete Kelly's Bues (1955) - He Needs Me As tends to happen in producer, director and title character Jack Webb's jazz tale, the singer forced upon him turns out to be disproportionately gifted, this time because she's Peggy Lee, first tune by Arthur Hamilton, second with music by George Gershwin, in Pete Kelly's Blues, 1955.
D.I., The (1957) - Pain In Your Head Opening from producer, director and star Jack Webb, as Sergeant Moore, working over several marine privates finishing with Owens (Don Dubbins), in The D.I., 1957, screenplay by James Lee Barrett from his original play and teleplay.
D.I., The (1957) - General Orders Sergeant Moore (producer and director Jack Webb) debriefing troublesome marine Owens (Don Dubbins), then conferring with colleague O'Neil (actual marine Corporal John R. Brown), in The D.I., 1957
D.I., The (1957) - We'd All Be Dead! The crux of the story, producer, director and star Jack Webb as Sergeant Moore, berating his charges over a mistake made by Owens (Don Dubbins) in training, in The D.I., 1957, previously produced on television as The Murder Of A Sand Flea.

Bibliography

Notes

Webb was inducted posthumously into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1993.