logo
 Wikimedia Commons/ NBC Television (PD)
Wikimedia Commons/ NBC Television (PD)

Inside Jack Webb's Life Before, during and after 'Dragnet'

Busayo Ogunjimi
Jun 16, 2020
05:30 P.M.

Iconic movie star Jack Webb was famous for his hit TV series, "Dragnet." Although the show was his most successful project, the actor was involved in several other remarkable projects.

Advertisement

Legendary actor Jack Webb was born John Randolph Webb, on April 2, 1920, to Margaret Smith and Samuel Chester. However, before his death, Samuel left home and so Webb never knew his father.

Raised by his mother and maternal grandmother in Bunker Hill, Los Angeles, Webb's childhood was characterized by dire poverty that preceded The Great Depression.

Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday in "The Fur Job"  | Photo: Getty Images

Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday in "The Fur Job" | Photo: Getty Images

In an exclusive interview with Closer Weekly, Michael J Hayde, author of "My Name's Friday: The Unauthorized but True Story of Dragnet and the Films of Jack Webb," explained that Webb had lacked a lot of essential things as a child.

According to Hayde, Webb learned how to read by getting fishing magazines out of the trash. In addition to that, his mother and grandmother sometimes helped him to learn how to read. Hayde also added:

Advertisement

"Occasionally, he was able to beg or borrow a nickel to go to the movies, which is where he really got his escape."

Actor Jack Webb attends an event in Los Angeles on January 01, 1954 | Photo: Getty Images

Actor Jack Webb attends an event in Los Angeles on January 01, 1954 | Photo: Getty Images

For his high school education, Webb attended the Belmont High School, where he was a member of a radio club. Asides that, he pursued his interest in art and provided cartoons for the school's yearbook.

After completing his higher education at St.John's University, Minnesota, where he studied art, Webb applied to Walt Disney as an artist, but his application was turned down.

A chain smoker, Jack died of a heart attack on December 23, 1982, at the age of 62.

Jack Webb in a scene from the film "Pete Kelly's Blues" on January 01, 1955 | Photo: Getty Images

Jack Webb in a scene from the film "Pete Kelly's Blues" on January 01, 1955 | Photo: Getty Images

Advertisement

Following his rejection by Disney, Webb enrolled in the United States Army Air Corps, where he worked as a clerk and a typist.

However, this did not stop his interest in entertainment as he worked with the United Service Organization, where he helped stage shows and sometimes acted as an emcee. According to Hayde, this was what launched Webb into the world of entertainment. He said:

"This enabled him to find a job in radio after he got out of the service, again in San Francisco…."

Star of the TV series "Dragnet" Jack Webb poses for a portrait in circa 1954 | Photo: Getty Images

Star of the TV series "Dragnet" Jack Webb poses for a portrait in circa 1954 | Photo: Getty Images

After a few years on radio, Webb left for Los Angeles, where he started a career as an actor. After playing in some uncredited roles, he finally appeared in movies like "Sunset Boulevard," "The Men," and "Appointment with Danger."

Advertisement

The inspiration for Webb's most popular show, 'Dragnet,'' came in 1949 after TV shows and radio shows, went on a break, and Webb was left unemployed.

Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday, Harry Morgan as Officer Bill Gannon on set of Dragnet  | Photo: Getty Images

Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday, Harry Morgan as Officer Bill Gannon on set of Dragnet | Photo: Getty Images

After gathering enough material and resources, Webb took his project to NBC radio, where the show was accepted as a summer replacement. The show became a success, and as a result, Webb became a success as well.

"Dragnet" aired on radio for eight years between 1949 to 1957. Before the end of its run on radio, the show was converted to a television series, and it aired from 1952 to 1959.

Jack Webb as sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet (1967-1970) | Photo: Getty Images

Jack Webb as sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet (1967-1970) | Photo: Getty Images

Advertisement

In the years that followed the end of "Dragnet," Webb struggled to keep up with his career on television, and by 1967, "Dragnet'"was back, with the new series running for three years. It, however, wasn't as successful as the original version because it lacked youth appeal.

Later on, Webb's company developed another show, "Adam-12," which ran from 1968 to 1975 and recorded success as one of the top 10 series of its time.

Jack Webb as sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet (1967-1970) | Photo: Getty Images

Jack Webb as sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet (1967-1970) | Photo: Getty Images

Also, Webb created "O'Hara, U.S. Treasury," which aired in 1971. He also co-created "Emergency!" which ran from 1972 to 1977. Webb's final creation was the series, "Project U.F.O." which aired for 26 episodes from 1978 to 1979.

While he might have recorded success in the movie industry, his love life was a different narrative. Webb was married four times, first to actress Julie London from 1947 to 1954. The couple had two daughters, Stacy and Lisa.

Advertisement
Jack Webb as sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet (1967-1970) | Photo: Getty Images

Jack Webb as sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet (1967-1970) | Photo: Getty Images

While speaking about her father in May, Lisa described her father as a good father who was always there for her whenever she needed him.

Barely one year after the end of his marriage to London, Webb tied the knot with Dorothy Towne, and they were together for two years before getting a divorce in 1957.

Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday in "The Fur Job"  | Photo: Getty Images

Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday in "The Fur Job" | Photo: Getty Images

Webb was also married to actress Jackie Loughery between 1958 and 1964. In 1980, he tied the knot with Opal Wright whom he was with up until he died in 1982.

A chain smoker, Jack died of a heart attack on December 23, 1982, at the age of 62, and according to reports, the legendary actor was planning a 1980s Dragnet reboot right before his death.

Advertisement
info
Please fill in your e-mail so we can share with you our top stories!
By subscribing, you agree to our Privacy Policy
Advertisement
Related posts

'Goddesses': Sissy Spacek, 74, & Her Grown-up Daughters Rocked the Red Carpet in Matching Outfits

March 18, 2024

Little Boy Believes His Mom Died in Car Crash, Years Later He Accidentally Meets Her – Story of the Day

May 09, 2024

3 Stories of the Most Unexpected Meetings between Wives and Mistresses

March 20, 2024

This Boy Grew Up 'Very Poor' in a Tiny Old House — He Is Now One of the Highest-Paid Oscar Winners with Multiple Mansions

April 09, 2024

Woman Visits Her Boyfriend to Surprise Him, Wife She Never Knew about Opens the Door – Story of the Day

May 01, 2024

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Left Taxpayer-Funded Frogmore Cottage & Now Live in a $14.7M Estate

March 28, 2024

This Child Star Lost His House & Left Hollywood — At 42, He Changed Iconic Red Hair for Bold Haircut & Beard

May 20, 2024

5 Celebrities Who Don't Look the Same as in the 80s – Photos of Radical Transformations

May 04, 2024

Priscilla Presley's Only Living Child Became Family Man after He 'Got in Trouble' Because of Famous Mom

May 23, 2024

This Child Star Suffered a Stroke and Began to Lose His Memory — Inside His Life after Hollywood Pause

March 27, 2024

Greedy Gang Member Finds $110K Lottery Ticket with the Words ‘For My Mom’ in Kid’s Handwriting — Story of the Day

March 14, 2024

I Was Heartbroken When I Accidentally Found Out Why My Husband Stopped Inviting Me to Dinners With His Friends

April 05, 2024

My Fiancé Makes Me Pay For His Friend Every Time We Go Out – This Time I Taught Him a Lesson

February 15, 2024

I Caught My Husband with His Affair Partner at the Airport and Decided to Follow Them to Paris — Story of the Day

April 12, 2024