This page lists our “Frequently Asked Questions” as well some factoids about the show.
George Fenneman (from Groucho Marx’s “You Bet Your Life” fame) on the early episodes, and Hal Gibney on the later episodes.
When was Dragnet on the air?
Jan. 1952 – Dec. 1955, NBC, Thursdays, 9:00-9:30 PM
Jan. 1956 – Sept. 1958, NBC, Thursdays, 8:30-9:00
Sept. 1958 – June 1959, NBC, Tuesdays, 7:30-8:00
July 1959 – Sept. 1959, NBC, Sundays, 8:30-9:00
January 1967 – Sept. 1970, NBC, Thursdays, 9:30-10:00
During its first season, Dragnet alternated with “Gangbusters.”
There was a syndicated revival of Dragnet in 1989 and 1990. Fifty-two episodes were made.
Who were the primary cast members?
Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday
Barton Yarborough as Friday’s partner, Sgt. Ben Romero (1951)
Barney Phillips as Sgt. Ed Jacobs (1952)
Herb Ellis as Friday’s partner, Officer Frank Smith (1952)
Ben Alexander as Friday’s partner, Officer Frank Smith (1953-1959)
Harry Morgan as Friday’s partner, Officer Bill Gannon (1967-1970)
Barton Yarborough, who had been on the radio series, died of a heart attack a few days after the broadcast of Dragnet’s Dec. 1951 TV preview on “Chesterfield Sound Off Time.”
The cast on the 1989-1990 syndicated revival was as follows: Jeff Osterhage as Vic Daniels; Bernard White as Carl Molina; Thalmus Rasulala as Capt. Boltz; Don Stroud as Capt. Lussen.
What is the significance of the number 714, as in Badge 714?
There are multiple explanations for the use of this number. Jack Webb was a big Babe Ruth fan, and Ruth hit 714 home runs in his baseball career. The number is also said to be from Jack’s mother’s birthday (July 14th).
However, Laurie (Dragnet advisor and LAPD Sergeant Dan Cooke’s daughter) also writes: Although plausible, these are not quite right. Sgt. Dan Cooke was closely associated with Jack Webb. He originated some of the script concepts and was the technical director for a number of the Dragnet episodes. Badge 714 was Sgt. Cooke’s badge and was retired from the LAPD when Sgt. Cooke arranged for the use of his badge for the series. Sgt. Cooke has since passed away and the badge was donated by Cooke’s widow to the LAPD Police Academy’s Museum. You can see it there now—and the plaque next to the badge will validate this information.
Where can I get a sound bite of Jack Webb saying “Just the facts, ma’am”?
Contrary to popular legend, that exact phrase was never spoken on the show in either of its incarnations. For more details, see the Urban Legends Reference Pages.
Who wrote the “Dragnet” theme?
It’s also known as “Dragnet March” and “Danger Ahead.” There were two Dragnet-related hit records in 1953: the theme music, recorded by Ray Anthony and His Orchestra; and a Dragnet takeoff by Stan Freberg, called “St. George and the Dragonet” (it sold over a million copies). Click here to hear a brief clip of the opening of the Dragnet theme.
Where can I get the new version of the Dragnet theme by Mike Post?
Unfortunately, this is not currently available.
Weren’t there some Dragnet movies?
Yes. The first was in 1954.
In 1966, a Dragnet TV movie was made, but it was not shown until 1969. The successful execution of the movie prompted studio executives to bring Dragnet back as a weekly half-hour series, starting in 1967.
How can I find the Dragnet 1966 TV movie on video?
AMC‘s schedule lists the movie on its schedule for dates in March and April 2003. It is otherwise unavailable.
How can I get videotapes of Dragnet episodes?
We just added a new page about the available Dragnet episodes on video, written by Michael Hayde, author of “My Name’s Friday: The Unauthorized but True Story of Dragnet and the Films of Jack Webb”.
Only a few of the 1950s episodes are available on DVD, and the 1967-1970 episodes are not yet available on DVD, although there have been rumors that they will be released.
What were the badge numbers on the show?
Joe’s number was #714 (as seen on the opening graphics) and Bill’s number was #4848. Frank Smith’s was #613.
Where are Jack Webb’s stars located on the Hollywood Boulevard “Walk of Fame”?
Jack has two stars: one for his radio accomplishments, at 7040 Hollywood Blvd., and one for TV at 6278 Hollywood Blvd.
Ben Alexander (who played Friday’s partner in the 1950’s series) has a star at 6433 Hollywood Blvd. (Alas, Harry Morgan has no star… yet.)
To check locations of other stars, visit the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Official Walk of Fame web page.
What kind of car did they drive on the 1960’s series?
1966 Ford Fairlane
What was Jack Webb’s full name?
John Randolph Webb
What other TV shows did Jack Webb produce?
Adam-12 (1968-1975); The D.A. (1971-1972); O’Hara, U.S. Treasury (1971-1972); Emergency (1972-1977); Project UFO (1978-1979)
Where is Jack Webb buried?
He is buried in Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills. Here’s a link describing where to find his grave. He’s in plot #1999, up a hill to the right, not far inside the main entrance. Do not ask any of the staff for help in finding the grave. They will not tell you, and they will probably ask you to leave immediately. (Star hunters are not welcome.)
Wasn’t Jack Webb on The Johnny Carson Show once?
Yes, he was, doing the famous “Copper Clapper Caper” tongue-twister. Rick Dias has just sent us a transcript of this famous skit that Jack Webb did on The Johnny Carson Show in 1968. You can find it in Dragnet Quotes. The clip itself has appeared on a “Best of Johnny Carson” video collection.
Some Random Dragnet Facts…
- Raymond Burr played Joe Friday’s boss in the 1951 Dragnet pilot.
- Joe Friday lived with his mother in the early episodes of the 1950’s series.
- People used to stop at Los Angeles Police Dept. HQ to ask for Joe Friday. The response was “Sorry, it’s Joe’s day off.”
- Joe Friday’s rank was Lieutenant at the end of the 1950’s series, but he was a Sergeant in the 1960’s series.
- Dragnet episodes were based on actual L.A.P.D. cases which were provided to Jack Webb by a panel of three officers.
- Webb would then alter details so that the cases were barely recognizable.
- The name of Jack Webb’s production company, “MARK VII,” had no meaning. It was made up over coffee one day.
- MCA paid $5 million for the syndication rights to the 1950’s episodes, in 1954.
- Jack Webb changed the famous opening tag line “I’m a cop” to “I carry a badge” in the late 1950’s after some police departments objected to the use of the word “cop.”
- Jack Webb was a mentor to “Wizard of Id” cartoonist Brant Parker. Webb was cartoonist for the school paper when they were attending the same high school.
“When Dragnet returned to prime time after an eight-year absence, Jack Webb’s hard-boiled cop show had clearly left the ’50’s behind. The story we were about to see was not only true, it was ripped from the headlines: Sergeant Friday and his new sidekick, Officer Bill Gannon (Harry Morgan), must investigate the spread of a new hallucinogenic drug among L.A. teens. The episode plays like a more subdued version of “Reefer Madness,” highlighted by director Webb’s version of a “psychedelic” party and Friday’s hip lingo. “You’re pretty high and far out. What kind of kick are you on, son?” he grills his prisoner, Benjie “Blue Boy” Carver (Michael Burns), an 18-year-old who paints half his face blue and the other half yellow. Do we have to tell you how “The LSD Story” ends up when the final dum-de-dum-dum is heard?”
Did you know… that Service Merchandise and ad agency SLP&CO. created an ad campaign using digital imaging to make it look as if characters from old TV shows such as Dragnet and The Munsters were shopping at Service Merchandise stores?