On this day, 2 April, in 1920, Jack Webb was born. Most people know him as an actor. “Just the facts, ma’am.” He played Sergeant Joe Friday in the original Dragnet movie, 276 episodes of the original TV series, the TV movie Dragnet 1966, and finally 98 episodes of Dragnet 1967-1970.
But it’s more correct to think of Web as a writer and producer. In addition to creating Dragnet, he co-created O’Hara, U.S. Treasury (with long-time collaborator James E Moser) and Adam-12 (with Robert A Cinader).
From Radio to Television
Jack Webb got his start in radio after World War II. It was there that he started Dragnet as a radio series. He continued to work in radio while doing more work in film and television. In fact, Dragnet was still being produced on the radio after the series was airing.
Apart from Dragnet, his acting career never amounted to more than a handful of minor roles (although one of them was as William Holden’s friend in Sunset Boulevard).
Mark VII Limited
Almost all of Webb’s work was done through his production company, Mark VII Limited. It produced another of his big successes, Emergency! When I first revisited this company as an adult, I figured it must be some kind of religious reference.
After all, Webb had created and written a series early in his career called Noah’s Ark. There was just one problem: the show had nothing to do with the Bible story. It’s about a couple of veterinarians. Webb was married 4 times and doesn’t seem to have been religious.
I remember Mark VII Limited primarily because it had one of the coolest production logos I’ve ever seen. I’ll leave you with it (in many forms over the years) as a hat-tip to Jack Webb:
Also on 2 April
Actor Buddy Ebsen (The Beverly Hillbillies) was born on 1908. He lived to be 95 years old, which just goes to prove some people are too mean to die at a proper age. Alec Guinness (The Bridge on the River Kwai) was born in 1914.
Linda Hunt (The Year of Living Dangerously) is 75, Pamela Reed (Kindergarten Cop) is 71, Clark Gregg (Marvel’s The Avengers) is 58, Ajay Devgn (Singham) is 51, and Michael Fassbender (Prometheus) is 43.
Jack Webb by NBC Television — in the Public Domain