Biography

John Randolph 'Jack' Webb, 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.

Born in Santa Monica, California, Webb grew up in the Bunker Hill section of Los Angeles as the child of a single mother after his father left home before he was born.

During World War II, Webb enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces, but he "washed out" of flight training and was granted a hardship discharge to care for his family. Following his discharge, he moved to San Francisco, where a wartime shortage of announcers led to a temporary appointment to his own half-hour comedy radio show on ABC's KGO Radio in 1946. By 1949 he had abandoned comedy for drama, and starred in numerous radio shows until finding success in film and television in the late 1950s.

Webb had a featured role as a crime lab technician in the 1948 film He Walked by Night, a thinly-fictionalized recounting of the 1946 Walker crime spree. This experience gave Webb the idea for Dragnet: a recurring series based on real cases from LAPD police files, featuring authentic depictions of the modern police detective, including methods, mannerisms, and technical language. Following the success of Dragnet, Webb appeared in numerous television shows and specials, including the well-known 1972 series Emergency!

During his work on a revival of Dragnet in 1982, Webb suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 62. His funeral was given full police honors, and then LAPD Chief Daryl Gates retired the badge number 714 used by Webb's Joe Friday of Dragnet fame.  

John Randolph 'Jack' Webb, 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.

Born in Santa Monica, California, Webb grew up in the Bunker Hill section of Los Angeles as the child of a single mother after his father left home before he was born.

During World War II, Webb enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces, but he "washed out" of flight training and was granted a hardship discharge to care for his family. Following his discharge, he moved to San Francisco, where a wartime shortage of announcers led to a temporary appointment to his own half-hour comedy radio show on ABC's KGO Radio in 1946. By 1949 he had abandoned comedy for drama, and starred in numerous radio shows until finding success in film and television in the late 1950s.

Webb had a featured role as a crime lab technician in the 1948 film He Walked by Night, a thinly-fictionalized recounting of the 1946 Walker crime spree. This experience gave Webb the idea for Dragnet: a recurring series based on real cases from LAPD police files, featuring authentic depictions of the modern police detective, including methods, mannerisms, and technical language. Following the success of Dragnet, Webb appeared in numerous television shows and specials, including the well-known 1972 series Emergency!

During his work on a revival of Dragnet in 1982, Webb suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 62. His funeral was given full police honors, and then LAPD Chief Daryl Gates retired the badge number 714 used by Webb's Joe Friday of Dragnet fame.  

Personal Info

Known For Acting

Gender Male

Known Credits 42

Birthday 1920-04-02

Day of Death 1982-12-23

Place of Birth Santa Monica, California, USA

Official Site -

Also Known As

  • John Randolph Webb
  • John Randolph

Acting TV ShowsMovies

2013 Greenboy: Prescription for Death as Joe Friday (archive footage)
1971 The Partners (1 episode)
1969 Dragnet as Sgt. Joe Friday
1967 Dragnet (98 episodes)
1962 General Electric True (2 episodes)
1962 Red Nightmare as On-Camera Narrator
1962 The John Glenn Story as Narrator
1961 The Last Time I Saw Archie as William 'Bill' Bowers
1961 A Force in Readiness
1959 -30- as Sam Gatlin
1957 The D.I. as Gunnery Sgt. Jim Moore
1955 24 Hour Alert as Himself
1955 Pete Kelly's Blues as Pete Kelly
1954 Dragnet as Sgt. Joe Friday
1953 The Academy Awards (1 episode)
1952 This Is Your Life (2 episodes)
1951 Dragnet (275 episodes) as Sgt. Joe Friday
1951 Appointment with Danger as Joe Regas
1951 You're in the Navy Now as Ens. Anthony 'Tony' Barbo
1951 Halls of Montezuma as Correspondent Dickerman
1950 Dark City as Augie
1950 The Colgate Comedy Hour (3 episodes)
1950 Sunset Boulevard as Artie Green
1950 The Men as Norm
1948 He Walked by Night as Lee Whitey
1948 The Ed Sullivan Show (1 episode)
1932 Three on a Match as Boy in Schoolyard (uncredited)

Production

1978 Sam (6 episodes)Producer
1978 Project U.F.O. (26 episodes)Producer
1975 Mobile One (13 episodes)Producer
1974 Sierra (12 episodes)Producer
1973 Chase (22 episodes)Producer
1973 Escape (4 episodes)Producer
1972 Hec Ramsey (10 episodes)Producer
1972 Emergency! (132 episodes)Producer
1971 The D.A. (15 episodes)Producer
1971 O'Hara, U.S. Treasury (22 episodes)Producer
1968 Adam-12 (174 episodes)Producer
1963 The Man from Galveston Executive Producer
1962 General Electric True (33 episodes)Producer
1959 -30- Producer
1959 Pete Kelly's Blues (13 episodes)Producer
1959 The D.A.'s Man (26 episodes)Producer
1958 77 Sunset Strip (206 episodes)Producer
1951 Dragnet (275 episodes)Producer

Directing

1972 Emergency! (2 episodes)Director
1969 Dragnet Director
1968 Adam-12 (1 episode)Director
1967 Dragnet (73 episodes)Director
1962 General Electric True (4 episodes)Director
1961 The Last Time I Saw Archie Director
1959 -30- Director
1957 The D.I. Director
1955 Pete Kelly's Blues Director
1954 Dragnet Director
1951 Dragnet (255 episodes)Director

Creator

1978 Project U.F.O. Creator
1974 Sierra Creator
1973 Escape Creator
1972 Emergency! Creator
1971 O'Hara, U.S. Treasury Creator
1968 Adam-12 Creator
1967 Dragnet Creator
1951 Dragnet Creator

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