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 John Randolph “Jack” Webb

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John Randolph “Jack” Webb

Actor. He is 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.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1401
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John Randolph “Jack” Webb (2 Apr 1920–23 Dec 1982), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1401, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .