Here are some Jack Webb tributes that were published after his death in 1982…
(Photo from Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills; click for full-size image.)
Researched and typed by Bob Siler (L.A. newspapers)and Michael Hayde (TV Guide). Note that Michael is the author of “My Name’s Friday: The Unauthorized but True Story of Dragnet and the Films of Jack Webb”.
“JUST THE FACTS, ONLY THIS TIME THE TRUTH HURTS”
By JAMES BACON
(From the Los Angeles Herald Examiner; Dec.24, 1982)
It will be a sadder Christmas this year, especially if I walk into the Cock ‘N’ Bull and no longer get that cheery ‘hello’ from old friend, Jack Webb. For years Webb could be found every lunch hour at the Sunset Strip restaurant in the same corner table in the room off the bar. Once in awhile he’d venture a little further downtown and occupy a corner table at Musso and Franks, Hollywood’s oldest restaurant.
Webb, a veteran of radio, did a lot to give television a quality look. Few cop series ever equaled the laconic class of “Dragnet”. I worked on several of them and soon found out why everyone spoke in that Webb-like monotone. You never had to memorize the script on a Webb show. It came to you on TelePrompTers and you read it just like Jack.
Once I finished a “Dragnet” and was speeding home to supper. A policeman pulled me over and asked for my license.
“But, officer”, I said, “I just finished playing a cop with Jack Webb. (The LAPD’s favorite actor).
“That’s what they all say”, he said as he wrote out the ticket.
The program from the L.A.P.D.’s Jack Webb Memorial Service, December 30, 1982. Thanks to Raul Moreno for sending it in.
JACK WEBB: ‘AN ORIGINAL’
By Jack Hawn
(from the Los Angeles Times, Dec.28,1982)
About 15 years ago, a group of television writers assembled in the office of producer Bob Cinador, who was conducting a story conference for the newlylaunched series, “ADAM-12”, created by Cinador and Jack Webb. Among the writers was Jim Doherty, a retired Air Force sergeant who mistakenly had come to Cinador seeking an assignment.
“Hell, you’re not even supposed to be talking to me,” Cinador told him. “You’re supposed to be talking to Webb”.
Slightly embarrassed, Doherty stepped into a nearby office, met Webb and ended up writing a “Dragnet” script – the first of perhaps 20 in the next three years – then moved onto “Adam – 12” as writer and, later, producer. Doherty remembers Webb – who died of an apparent heart attack last week at the age of 62 – as “an original”.
“You don’t meet many in a lifetime,” he said. “How many do you meet?”
“I’ve heard people imply that Jack Webb was old-fashioned. Maybe he couldn’t adapt or make dirty movies. I admired him for that, but he adapted well enough to get (a number of ) series on the air.”
As head of Mark VII Productions, Webb was executive producer of ” Emergency”, “Mobile One”, “Hec Ramsey”, “The D.A.” and others in addition to his two major successes, “Dragnet” and “Adam-12.”
According to Doherty, Webb was “an ogre on stage – very tough on actors, very tough on crews. You could hear a pin drop. There was no fooling around like on other shows.”
Every night after shooting, Doherty remembered, he and a few others in the crew – including his “Dragnet” partner at the time, Harry Morgan, gathered in Webb’s office for drinks.
“It was really tough on marriages,” Doherty said with a laugh. “Jack loved the company of guys – telling jokes and stories, talking sports. He was a great Dodgers fan – well versed.”
Often the rap session would last unil midnight, “and when everybody indicated it was time to go home, he would say, “Hey, come on, we’ll go out for dinner.” He would take five or six of us. He loved Chinese and Mexican food. Jack was a great drinker, but I never saw the guy drunk. He really could hold it.”
Doherty remembered Webb’s Christmas gifts one year to his longtime secretary – a Cadillac and a two week vacation in Honolulu. “Webb appreciated her loyality. She took his heat a lot of times. He could be very tough. But she was a very loyal employee, and he appreciated that.”
Cadillacs, it seems, held a special attraction to Webb for years. “He would buy a new El Dorado in winter months and a Cad convertible in the spring,” Doherty said. “Then he would sell his old cars to those in the company. Almost everybody drove a Cad he bought from Jack…..I don’t think he ever put 10,000 miles on a car in a year.”
But his “passion”, according to Doherty, was sound equipment. A world-renowned pianist once “pronounced Jack’s sound system in his house better than that of any studio he had ever seen.”
Webb’s house – formerly owned by Dinah Shore – includes a guest house, which he turned into a bar. “One whole wall,” Doherty said, “had something like 24 speakers – just a bank of speakers. Literally, you could feel the sound.
“He also loved to edit film. He was an excellent editor. He really knew films and how to cut them. ‘Adam – 12’ was my first producing job (his most recent is ‘Chips’), and if I was having trouble, he would say, ‘Bring the film to the house tonight. We’ll recut it.’ He was always as helpful as he could be.
“One thing about Webb – you may have quit, or you might’ve been fired, but usually good people would be back. He never stayed mad at anybody. Maybe a couple of years later, he would call you and say, ‘Hey, come down. I’ve got something for you.’ “
The Los Angeles Police Department will hold a memorial service for Webb Thursday at the Police Academy in Elysian Park. Chief Daryl Gates described his death as “like it was a member of the family passing.”
Doherty punctuated that remark: “No cop had a better friend.”
AS WE SEE IT: TV GUIDE, ISSUE OF 1/29/83
“With the death of Jack Webb late last month, an era in American television came to an end. Webb was the originator, producer and star of DRAGNET which appeared for more than a decade under its original title and consistently thereafter as BADGE 714, the number of the gold shield worn by Webb’s character, Sgt. Joe Friday.
“DRAGNET added two elements to American popular culture. One was its staccato, Dum-da-Dum-Dum theme. The other was Sergeant Friday’s endless litany to witnesses, suspects and victims: “Just the facts, ma’am.”
“But there are other things about Webb and his show that should be considered here: The first is that he was committed to showing cops in a nonviolent setting. Webb once said proudly that in the first 60 episodes of DRAGNET there were only 15 gunshots, three fights and a half-dozen punches. That total could probably be seen in the first 10 minutes of BARETTA or STARSKY & HUTCH. Second, Webb looked like a cop. No pretty boy, he wore baggy jackets and close-cropped hair and took notes with a stubby pencil. And his caseload was solved through old fashioned footwork, not convenient scriptwriters’ contrivances.
“Webb had his detractors who complained that his characters were too goody- goody, that real cops aren’t perfect, that police departments are filled with bureaucratic bungles and bad arrests. Some of those charges may have merit. Webb never explored the psychological guts of police work the way that former LAPD Sgt. Joseph Wambaugh did on POLICE STORY.
“But in his clipped monochromatic style, Webb gave viewers a sort of gritty verisimilitude not before seen on television. His commitment to good television and a positive image for law enforcement never wavered. And for those things he should be fondly remembered.
“And that’s the facts, ma’am.”
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