Webb, Jack, 1920-1982

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Jack Webb was an American actor, television producer, director, and screenwriter best remembered for his role of Police Sgt. Joe Friday on the television series "Dragnet" in the 1960s and 1970s. Born John Randolph "Jack" Webb in Santa Monica, California, he grew up in the poor section of Los Angeles in a rooming house that his mother ran. His father left the family just before he was born, and he never knew his father. During World War II, he joined the US Army Air Force, and served as a crewman aboard a B-26 Marauder bomber. After leaving the military, he obtained work on a radio show about a private detective, "Pat Novak for Hire." This was soon followed by more radio shows, "Johnny Modero," "Jeff Regan, Investigator," and "Murder and Mr. Malone." Webb had a small role in the 1948 movie, "He Walked by Night," a docudrama type movie that gave Webb the idea for "Dragnet." With the assistance of the LA Police, Webb started "Dragnet" in 1949 as a radio show, with actor Barton Yarborough playing the role of his police partner, Ben Romero. Having a tremendous respect for police, Webb often mentioned in later interviews that he thought real police put up with a lot of public abuse, and that he created the show to "show the police as heroes and perhaps make their lives a little easier." In 1951, Dragnet made the transition to television, with actors Barney Phillips and Herbert Ellis replacing Yarborough as his partner. In 1952, actor Ben Alexander became Officer Friday's partner, remaining until the series ended in 1959. During the 1950s, Webb also continued to act in movies, but did not achieve audience approval until his role of Marine Sergeant Jim Moore in "The D.I." (1957), playing a tough as nails Marine Drill Instructor. In 1967, Webb produced and starred in a colorized version of "Dragnet," with actor Harry Morgan playing his partner, Officer Bill Gannon. After that, Webb produced a number of television shows, including "Adam-12," "The DA," "O'Hara: US Treasury," and "Emergency!" Webb considered remaking "Dragnet" a third time, to start in 1983 with actor Kent McCord as his partner, but in December 1982, Webb was stricken by a sudden heart attack and died. Webb was given a funeral with full police honors, including a 17-gun salute, and the Los Angeles Chief of Police announced during the funeral that Badge 714 (Webb's Joe Friday character's badge number) would be retired, even though Webb never served on the police force. The LA Police later named a police academy auditorium after Jack Webb. Webb was married four times, and had two daughters, Stacy and Alisa, with his first wife, singer Julie London.
Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Records of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 1956 - 2008. Moving Images Relating to Emergency Management. 1979 - 2001. Date with Disaster National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Hoeptner, Fred. John Edwards memorial collection, 1956-1972. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn The Railroad hour, radio program [sound recording], 1948-1954 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
creatorOf Jack Webb Collection of Scripts for Radio and Television, 1949-1975 University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Performing Arts Special Collections.
creatorOf Webb, Jack, 1920-1982. Collection of scripts for radio and television, 1949-1975. University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. 1921 - 2008. Audio Recordings. 1945 - 1965. If freedom failed National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. 1921 - 2008. Audio Recordings. 1945 - 1965. The battle of the hedgerows ; The question of true liberty National Archives at College Park
referencedIn United States. U.S. Customs Service. Master Files of Photographs Relating to Agency Officials, Facilities and Equipment, and Enforcement Pursuits, 6/18/1970 - 7/1997 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn John Eldon Thayer collection of motion picture memorabilia, 1916-1979. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
creatorOf Burt, Frank. Noah's Ark. The Mascot. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
creatorOf Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. 1921 - 2008. Audio Recordings. 1945 - 1965. Remagen bridge is falling down ; No turning back National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Records of the U.S. Customs Service. 1745 - 1997. Sound Recordings Relating to Customs Activities National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Wood, Preston. Dragnet 1967. [1.03], "The big kidnapping" / written by Preston Wood. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
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associatedWith Hoeptner, Fred. person
associatedWith Railroad Hour Radio Program corporateBody
associatedWith Thayer, John Eldon, 1899-1980 person
memberOf United States. Army corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
West Hollywood CA US
Santa Monica CA US
Subject
Radio producers and directors
Radio writers
Television actors and actresses
Television actors and actresses
Television producers and directors
Television producers and directors
Television producers and directors
Television producers and directors
Television writers
Television writers
Television writers
United States. Army Air Forces
World War II, 1939-1945
Actors
Police
Occupation
Radio actors and actresses
Radio writers
Screenwriters
Screenwriters
Screenwriters
Screenwriters
Television actors and actresses
Television actors and actresses
Television producers
Television producers and directors
Television producers and directors
Television producers and directors
Actors
Actors
Actors, American
Directors
Activity

Person

Birth 1920-04-02

Death 1982-12-23

Male

Americans

English

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