Webb, Jack

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WEBB, JACK (1920–1982), U.S. actor, director, producer. Born Jack Randolph Webb in Santa Monica, California, Webb graduated from Belmont High School, and served in the Air Force from 1942 to 1945. Webb began his entertainment career as a radio announcer in San Francisco, followed by roles in the radio dramas Pat Novak for Hire (1946) and Johnny Modero (1947). He married actress Julie London (née Julie Peck) in July 1947, but they divorced in 1953. Webb made his feature film debut in He Walked by Night (1948), followed by roles in such films as Sword in the Desert (1949), The Men (1950), and Sunset Boulevard (1950). In 1949, he created the radio drama Dragnet, which was the first series based on actual police files. While the show moved to television in 1951, he continued to produce the radio version until 1955. Webb played the cool, emotionless Sgt. Joe Friday throughout the series' incarnations, including the highly rated television runs from 1951 to 1959 and 1967 to 1970, as well as the 1954 feature film. Webb began directing and starring in his own films, Pete Kelly's Blues (1955), The D.I. (1957), and -30- (1959). In 1958, he published a book about the Los Angeles Police Department, The Badge: True and Terrifying Crime Stories That Could Not Be Presented on tv. Webb followed up his success on Dragnet by producing such television dramas as Adam 12 (1968–70), The D.A. (1971), Emergency! (1971–75), and Project Blue Book (1978). In respect for the man who became so closely associated with the department, the lapd lowered its flags for Webb when he died, an honor traditionally reserved for fallen police officers and government officials.

[Adam Wills (2nd ed.)]