John Randolph "Jack" Webb (April 2, 1920 – December 23, 1982), also known by the pen name John Randolph, was an American actor, television producer, director, and screenwriter, who is most famous for his role as Sergeant Joe Friday in the radio and television series, Dragnet. He was also the founder of his own production company, Mark VII Limited. Webb was essentially the inventor of the Police Procedural, and either created or was the obvious inspiration for most of the better-known cop shows of the 60s and 70s. Webb was married for 6 years to actress Julie London, who later played Nurse Dixie McCall on his series Emergency! alongside her new husband, Bobby Troup ("Doctor Joe Early"). When he died in 1982, he was given a full Los Angeles Department police funeral, due to his extensive work with the department. Sgt. Friday's badge, 714, was officially retired as well.
Tropes he displayed:
- Dramatic Deadpan: Webb's signature style. Played for laughs in the famous The Tonight Show sketch, "The Copper Clapper Caper".
- The Square: Webb was about as square as they came. A lifelong Republican, and a man committed to telling the story of The Man. Hippies and counterculture types were routine targets of scorn in his works.
- Tom Hanks Syndrome: Webb got his start in radio as a comedian and hosted a short-lived comedy show on ABC in the late '40s. By the time Dragnet came along, he decided he was a better fit for dramatic parts. Which didn't mean that Webb completely lost his sense of humor, as evidenced by his Tonight Show appearance, or a later appearance in a Jack Benny special.
Tropes in his works:
- Author Avatar: Joe Friday primarily, but sometimes a few others as well.
- Based on a True Story: Many of the plots of his series were based on real incidents that were related to him. The people involved were paid a finder's fee.
- Big Damn Heroes
- By-the-Book Cop: Most of his law enforcement characters.
- Cops and Detectives: Adam-12, Dragnet and a few others.
- Drugs Are Bad: Pick a show, any show. Dragnet took the cake in the '60s revival, but it popped up on other series as well.
- Eagleland: Type 1. All of his shows glorified the day-to-day work of local public servants: cops, firemen, even animal control officers. It portrayed them as duty-bound, consummate professionals.
- Heroic Fire Rescue: Sierra, Emergency!
TV Series he produced include:
Films he starred in include:
- Sunset Boulevard
- Pete Kelly's Blues
- The D. I.