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Author Topic: Classic Jack Webb bit  (Read 2482 times)

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Bob Mueller

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Classic Jack Webb bit
« on: November 23, 2006, 03:33:08 PM »

Caught this from another forum, and really wanted to share it here. Any fans of the original Dragnet or Johnny Carson (with dark hair!) should enjoy it as well.

I present the Copper Clapper Caper.

 ;D
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CarolG.

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Re: Classic Jack Webb bit
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2006, 03:58:36 PM »

That was great! (And I'd forgotten that JC ever had dark hair.)
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Ingrid

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Re: Classic Jack Webb bit
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2006, 05:05:22 PM »

Oh, yes.  That was great.  Don't you wish they'd rerun some of the old shows on a special channel?

Thanks, Bob.

Ingrid
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JIM DOHERTY

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Re: Classic Jack Webb bit
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2006, 01:51:05 PM »

Ingrid,

The old radio shows (and for my money, that was the medium in which Dragnet shined brightest) are available for download on a number of OTR websites.  Some local PBS stations, have played a few of the old B&W episodes from the '50's in recent years, so maybe you can lobby your local channel.  I discovered the B&W episodes long after seeing the color shows from the '60's, and found them much superior.

Jack Webb always wanted to be a comedian.  In fact, long before Pat Novak for Hire, Jeff Regan - Investigator, or Dragnet, his very first radio show was a local comedy thing he did on KGO in my home town of San Francisco.  It wasn't very successful, though, and, more or less against his will, he eventually segued into radio drama.

I think he must be pleased that everyone recalls the "Copper Clapper Caper" with fondness.

Webb also spoofed his tough-guy detective image on an episode of Jack Benny in which he played a stone-faced "number one son" to Benny's "Charlie Chan."

Ingrid

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Re: Classic Jack Webb bit
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2006, 05:42:17 PM »

Thanks, Jim.  Never was very fond of Webb, but liked his sidekick (Sergean Friday?) a lot, and also enjoyed him in "Mash."  "Mash" was one of the all-time great shows -- an improcvement over the movie, in my opinion, except for a few of the "talky" shows Hawkeye wrote.

Ingrid
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JIM DOHERTY

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Re: Classic Jack Webb bit
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2006, 06:22:26 PM »

Ingrid,

Re your comment below:

Thanks, Jim.  Never was very fond of Webb, but liked his sidekick (Sergean Friday?) a lot, and also enjoyed him in "Mash."  "Mash" was one of the all-time great shows -- an improcvement over the movie, in my opinion, except for a few of the "talky" shows Hawkeye wrote.

Joe Friday was Webb's character.  The character you're thinking of, Bill Gannon, was played by Harry Morgan., who, as you recalled, also played Col. Potter on both M*A*S*H and After-M*A*S*H.

And now you've gone and gotten me started on one of my pedantic romps.  Gannon was actually Friday's fifth partner.

The first, Det. Sgt. Ben Romero, was played by Barton Yarborough (famous as, among other things, "Doc" on I Love a Mystery).  He played the part through roughly half of the radio episodes.  When the show moved to TV in 1951, he played the part in the pilot and the second episode, then dropped dead suddenly of an unexpected heart attack.  His character, in a particularly moving episode, was written out by having the same thing happen to him.

He was replaced by Det. Sgt. Ed Jacobs, played by Barney Phillips, who lasted for roughly a season on both radio and TV.

Jacobs was replaced, very briefly, by rookie Detective Bill Lockwood, played by Martin Milner for four or five episodes on radio, and by another actor whose name escapes me for one TV episode.  Lockwood was said to be the nephew of the late Sgt. Romero.  This was the first and, until the Dick Wolf revival, only time Friday had a partner who was younger than him (though whoever played the part on TV looked older than Webb; Milner had gone into the Army at this point and was no longer available).

Lockwood dropped off the series, and was replaced by Frank Smith, who was modeled on Webb's uncle (and surrogate father) who happened to have been named Frank Smith.  Smith was first played by Harry Bartell, Vic Perrin, and Herb Ellis on radio, and, for four episode, by Ellis on TV. Ellis was then replaced by the actor most identified with the part, and who most reminded Webb of his uncle, Ben Alexander, who played the part on radio until 1956, when the series left audio drama behind, and 1959 on TV, when the series ended its B&W run.

When Webb was persuaded to revive the series in 1967, Alexander was unavailable, having already been cast in another LA-set cop show, The Felony Squad .  That's when Webb hired Morgan to play Bill Gannon, who was essentially Frank Smith, as portrayed by an actor even more gifted at comedy than Ben Alexander was.

All of which is, undoubtedly, more about Dragnet than you ever wanted to know.

Bob Mueller

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Re: Classic Jack Webb bit
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2006, 10:18:37 PM »

All of which is, undoubtedly, more about Dragnet than you ever wanted to know.
Jim, I dont' think I could ever get tired of hearing your trivia about stuff like this.

It's interesting to see how Milner made a great circle, too. First on the radio drama, then to Adam-12, and an appearance on Dragnet as Officer Pete Malloy. What I can't recall is how they did the interplay. Was it the pilot for Adam-12, or just a joint episode?
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Kathy Wendorff

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Re: Classic Jack Webb bit
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2006, 06:26:20 AM »


Jacobs was replaced ... by another actor whose name escapes me for one TV episode.


I am shocked. Shocked!

Kathy W.
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JIM DOHERTY

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Re: Classic Jack Webb bit
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2006, 01:58:44 PM »

Bob,

Re your comment below:

It's interesting to see how Milner made a great circle, too. First on the radio drama, then to Adam-12, and an appearance on Dragnet as Officer Pete Malloy. What I can't recall is how they did the interplay. Was it the pilot for Adam-12, or just a joint episode?

The short answer is that it was a cross-over, or "joint," episode, not the pilot.  But so much more can be said about it.

And, of course, I will.

Webb and Milner met when they were both cast as Marines in a war movie called The Halls of Montezuma (which, incidentally, was Milner's second turn as a Marine; he'd played a raw boot who gets killed in the first wave in the all-time classic jarhead movie, The Sands of Iwo Jima).

Webb, who was already enjoying great success with Dragnet on radio, and Milner became close, and Webb asked Milner, "Say, Kid, you ever done radio?"  Milner said he hadn't and Webb invited him to read a few parts for the show.  Because of the magic of radio, the still-teen-aged Milner was able to be cast as characters much older than him, often as elderly characters.  From that point he was always regarded as a member of Webb's regular "repertory company."  In fact, as I mentioned, Webb liked him enough to cast him as Friday's partner.  But then Uncle Sam sent Milner greetings.

Fortunately for his acting career, Milner was stationed near Los Angeles.  Although he wasn't available to play Lockwood when the show moved to TV, he still was available for guest shots, and, whenever he had a few days leave, Webb used him, usually as a high school kid in some kind of trouble.

Years later, Webb was persuaded to bring Dragnet back.  He took another young actor named Kent McWhirter under his wing.  McWhirter played a small role in the two-hour pilot for the revived series (shot in 1966 but, for reasons both trivial and complicated, not shown 'til 1969 during the third season of the new series), and, with his name changed to "Kent McCord" a featured role as an undercover narc suspected of armed robbery, being questioned by Internal Affairs cop Friday in one of the best of the half-hour episodes, "The Big Interrogation."  In another episode, he played a very small role as a young uniformed patrolman named "Officer Reed."

At about this time, Webb's LAPD contact, Sgt. Dan Cooke, suggested that Webb's production company should try a show that would do for uniformed beat cops what Dragnet did for detectives.  He explained to Webb that the call letter "A," represented in LAPD's phonetic alphabet by the name "Adam," meant a two-officer mobile patrol unit.  Webb, according to some accounts, remembered that the beat car that patrolled the LA neighborhood in which he grew up was "Car 12," so he decided to call the show Adam-12 .  He recycled McCord's "Officer Reed" character into the new show, but the episode in which McCord appeared as Reed was such a small bit that it can't properly be called a pilot.

In the third or fourth season of Dragnet, and the first or second of Adam-12, there was an episode, the one I think you're probably recalling, in which Friday and Gannon, investigating a possible case of "unnecessary force" out of IA, question Milner and McCord as Malloy and Reed, who have a short but memorable bit as possible witnesses to the incident.  But this was after both shows were established, so it was a cross-over.

There was talk of having an actual two-part episode, with Malloy and Reed being the first responders to a major crime in the first chapter, to be shown on Adam-12, then turning it over to Friday and Gannon, who would investigate it in the second chapter on Dragnet.  That never quite came to fruition.

They did do something similar in 1971, though, after Dragnet had ceased production.  Although Dragnet was no longer on, another Webb production called The DA, with Robert Conrad as a prosecutor modeled on Vincent Bugliosi, was.  Instead of discovering a crime and turning it over to the LAPD Detective Bureau for investigation, Malloy and Reed discovered a crime and turned it over to the LA County District Attorney's Office for prosecution.

Again, probably more than you ever wanted to know.  But if you really "never tire" of this pedantry, applaud me a few times.  Somehow I went from "13" to "7" again. 

I sure wish I knew what I was doing to get somebody mad enough to keep bouncing me out of double digits.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2006, 03:35:02 AM by JIM DOHERTY »
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JIM DOHERTY

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Re: Classic Jack Webb bit
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2006, 02:11:03 PM »

Kathy,

Re your response to my comment below:


Jacobs was replaced ... by another actor whose name escapes me for one TV episode.


I am shocked. Shocked!

Sorry about that.  The actor who played Detective Bill Lockwood in his only TV appearance, an episode called "The Big Jump," was Kenneth Patterson.  After all, Kath, there were 376 Dragnet episodes on TV (counting both the original run and the color revival, and including the two-hour "special episode"), another 316 radio episodes, and one full-length movie released to theatres.  Even I can't remember every cast member.

By the way, there was a sixth partner.  In the third TV episode, "The Big Death," filmed while Yarborough was sick, Webb shot around his co-star as much as possible, and ultimately brought in an actor named Ken Peters to play Det. Sgt. Bill Cummings.  The next episode, shot after Yarborough's death, Barney Phillips, who had already started as Jacobs on radio, made his TV debut in the role.

The neat thing about Bill Cummings was that he was a real guy.  Cummings was the actual cop who'd solved the case that Webb was fictionalizing in "The Big Death," and was on the set acting as the technical advisor.  This was a name that did not get changed to protect the innocent.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2006, 03:40:05 AM by JIM DOHERTY »
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Janet Koch

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Re: Classic Jack Webb bit
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2006, 03:56:25 PM »

The Copper Clapper Caper -- classic! Thanks for the link, Bob. I haven't seen that in awhile and it perked me up nicely on a grey day.

Janet
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