Thursday, May 20, 2010
Jack Webb- Wasn't above bending the rules.
Jack Webb, performed as a crime lab technician in the film, He Walked by Night(1948), based on the real-life murder of a California Highway Patrolman. The film was done in semidocumentary style with technical assistance by Detective Sergeant Marty Wynn. The film gave Webb the idea for Dragnet.
With help from Sgt. Wynn and LAPD chief William H. Parker, Dragnet became a radio show in 1949 (running until 1954). It was a TV show from 1951 to 1959. Webb played Sgt. Joe Friday, and Barton Yarborough co-starred as Sgt. Ben Romero.
Webb, believed viewers wanted "realism" and tried to give it to them. Webb had a lot of respect for people in law enforcement. He intended to perform a service for the police by showing them as working class heroes.
Dragnet began each show with the narration "The story you are about to see is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent." At the end of each show, the trial verdict of the suspect was announced by Hal Gibney.
Webb continued to perform in movies, one of his best known performances was the best friend of William Holden's character in the film, Sunset Boulevard. In 1950, Webb performed with his future 1960's Dragnet partner Harry Morgan in the film noir Dark City, which also featured the first screen appearance of, Charlton Heston. In contrast to the pair's straight-arrow image in 'Dragnet', Webb played a card-shark in Dark City and Morgan a ex-fighter who tries to talk Heston back into a straight-and-narrow life.
In 1951, Webb introduced a short-lived radio series, Pete Kelly's Blues. That show became the basis for a 1955 movie of the same name. Neither the radio series or the movie did very well.
In the early 1960s Webb (along with actor Jeffrey Hunter) formed Apollo Productions. They made the TV series Temple Houston!
In 1963, Webb took over from William T. Orr as executive producer of the ABC detective series 77 Sunset Strip. Ratings fell and the series was cancelled in its sixth season.
In early 1967, Webb produced and starred in a new color version of Dragnet, this time for Universal Television. Harry Morgan co-starred as Officer Bill Gannon. The shows pilot, originally produced as a made-for-TV movie in 1966, but did not air until 1969. The TV movie was based on the Harvey Glatman serial killings. The TV series ran through 1970.
In 1968, with the help of Robert A. Cinader, Webb produced NBC's popular Adam-12, which focused on uniformed LAPD officers Pete Malloy (Martin Milner) and Jim Reed (Kent McCord), which ran until 1975.
In the 1970s Webb began to expand his Mark VII Limited into other shows. The most successful was, Emergency! On air from 1972–79. Webb cast his ex-wife, Julie London, as well as her second husband and Dragnet performer, Bobby Troup, as nurse Dixie McCall and Dr. Joe Early.