62 (passed away Dec. 23rd, 1982)
Apr. 2nd, 1920
Santa Monica, California, USA
Jack Webb's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1962 - Red Nightmare
1957 - The D.I.
1955 - Pete Kelly's Blues
1954 - Dragnet
1951 - Appointment with Danger
1950 - Sunset Boulevard
1950 - Dark City
1950 - The Men
1948 - Hollow Triumph
1948 - He Walked by Night
1932 - Three on a Match
Guest TV Roles
Sgt. Jim Moore
John (Jack) Randolph Webb was born in Santa Monica, California, on April 2, 1920. His father left home before he was born; Webb would never know him. He was raised by his mother and maternal grandmother in dire poverty that preceded the Depression. Making things worse, Webb suffered from acute asthma from age six until adulthood, somewhat surprising for a man whose cigarette intake reached three packs a day at its peak. Webb's great love was movies, and his dream was to direct them. He began in radio, first as a disc jockey then as host of a comedy show (believe it or not!), finally as "Pat Novak, Private Eye," his first true success. A small role in the film noir classic He Walked by Night (1948) led to the creation of "Dragnet." It first aired over NBC radio on June 3, 1949, and came to TV ("Dragnet" (1951)) on December 16, 1951, where it ran until September 1959. By then, Webb had become a film director and would helm (and star in) five features: Dragnet (1954), Pete Kelly's Blues (1955), The D.I. (1957), -30- (1959), and The Last Time I Saw Archie (1961). The last two were box office flops, and Webb returned to TV in 1962. In February 1963, he became Head of Production for Warner Bros. Television, a job he was fired from that December when his revision of "77 Sunset Strip" (1958) sent its ratings into a death spiral. After two years of unemployment, a new opportunity arose the made-for-TV film, of which Universal was then sole supplier. Coincidentally, they owned the rights to "Dragnet" (1951) and invited Webb to do a new "Dragnet" as a TV movie. It turned out so well that NBC and Universal persuaded him to do a new "Dragnet 1967" (1967) TV series, which lasted three-and-a-half seasons and went on to smash success in syndicated reruns. By then, Webb had parlayed Dragnet's renewed popularity into a second hit series, "Adam-12" (1968), and managed to keep his company solvent until his untimely death from a massive heart attack on December 23, 1982. Webb was married four times: to Julie London (1947-54), Dorothy Towne (1955-1957), Jackie Loughery (1958-64), and to Opal Wright (1980-death). He had two daughters by London: Stacey (1950-96) and Alisa (1952-his death).
- At the height of "Dragnet's" popularity, people would actually call the LAPD wanting to speak to Webb's character, Sgt. Joe Friday. The Department eventually came up with a stock answer to the large volume of calls: "Sorry, it's Joe's day off."
- Portrayed the title character on NBC Radio's "Pete Kelly's Blues" (1951).
- Contrary to popular belief, his character, Joe Friday, never said, "Just the facts, ma'am" in any episode of "Dragnet". The actual line was, "All we want [or "need"] are the facts, ma'am."
- Was a close friend of _"Star Trek" (1966)_ (qv) creator 'Gene Roddenberry' (qv).
- Was the basis for the "Brett Chase" character in _L.A. Confidential (1997)_ (qv).
- Had just over 6,000 jazz albums in his private collection.
- Starred as the title character on ABC Radio's "Pat Novak for Hire" (1946 and 1949).
- He was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Radio at 7040 Hollywood Boulevard and for Television at 6728 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.