10 Things About Me That Jack Webb Would Have Hated
An early work by Webb
My view of the late Jack Webb
I loved the late Jack Webb. And this was during my teenage years. During the years when some of my friends tried hard to be "rural hippies," smoking a joint just to be cool, talking jibberish when asked questions by teachers, and letting their hair grow free. I wish you could have viewed me and my friends from 1970 through 1972. Some of you might not be here now for laughing yourself to death at us.
I was cool about my admiration for Webb. If my cool friends, the few "rural hippies" who really didn't know the difference between Bob Dylan and Quicksilver Messenger Service, had known the love and respect I had for one of Hollywood's greatest actors, writers, and directors, I would have been banned from all of the "rural hippy" functions such as wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War, going sockless and wearing sunglasses just to show the establishment that we were real rebels.
Webb at work in an early radio show
I was hooked on Dragnet
Still, each week like clockwork, when Dragnet would air on NBC, I was planted in front of our television hoping and sometime praying that no relatives would stop in for a visit or my parents would find some chore that I had forgotten to finish. I loved Dragnet and Jack Webb that much, but then again, so did the majority of Americans.
If you liked men who were real men, no nonsense about life or what they did for a living, and with a clear view on what committing crime would get you, Jack Webb was your man. He seldom smiled, laughed, or told jokes on or off duty. Webb was like this in real life. And for some reason, throngs of fans hung on his every word and I think I know why.
Throughout the years, Webb never changed
In the latter years of Dragnet on television, American youth secretly yearned for direction and balance in their lives. These wise teenagers had already seen the "big picture" about the love of money and how it would rob them of their parents' attention and love, so turning to an icon like Jack Webb was only natural. I did. And I was not into drugs, alcohol, or burning down my city hall like some of my loudmouth, windbag friends who lived on the brag and when their bluff was called, they folded like a thirsty Petunia in a summer flower bed.
Jack Webb was far from perfect. Fact is, he never painted a picture of perfection and moral self-righteousness. Webb held high the banner of right and wrong and fought to keep it from being fuzzy and hard to distinguish. Off-camera, Webb smoked five packs of cigarettes a day, cursed like an alcohol-crazed sailor and demanded perfect work from his assistant film editors, producers, and writers. That was as close to perfection as Webb ever got. And I can live with that.
"Just the facts," about Jack Webb
- 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.
Dragnet and stardom
- Webb had a featured role as a crime lab technician in the 1948 film He Walked by Night, based on the real-life murder of a California Highway Patrolman by Erwin Walker. The film was produced in semidocumentary style with technical assistance provided by Detective Sergeant Marty Wynn of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). He Walked By Night's thinly veiled fictionalized recounting of the 1946 Walker crime spree 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.
- With much assistance from Sgt. Marty Wynn and legendary LAPD chief William H. Parker, Dragnet premiered on NBC Radio in 1949 and ran till 1957. It was also picked up as a television series by NBC, which aired episodes each season from 1952 to 1959. Webb played Sgt. Joe Friday, and Harry Morgan as his partner, Bill Gannon.
Jack, this is for you
And out of a personal tribute to Jack Webb, I am going to be short and to the point. I know this without a shadow of a doubt that "if" I had met this stone-faced, all-American actor (who bore a strong resemblance to my late cousin Joe Williams, who resided in Kenosha, Wisconsin), there would be
10 Things About Me That Jack Webb Would Have Hated
10.) I liked to listen to the music of Jimi Hendrix. That, right away, would have brought me scorn from Jack Webb for he took a dim view of Hendrix' music and those artists who played with Jimi.
9.) My hair was a bit longer than most of my friends, but not too long that I would be lectured by my pastor. Webb despised long hair for it represented rebellion. Thing was. I grew my hair long just to fit in.
8.) I loved pretty girls who wore mini-skirts. I was a normal guy and a card-carrying teenage male heterosexual. Jack Webb would have told me about the evils of "free sex" within a Democracy.
7. I wasn't that "all in" concerning Vietnam. Not that I condoned flag-burning, but I studied the Vietnam war behind the scenes and found out that American multi-billion-dollar companies such as DuPont Chemical, Michelin tires and Shell Petroleum were making money hand over fist supplying their products to our military. Jack Webb was for American involvement in Vietnam for anything less would be living like a Communist.
6,) I watched a lot of news coverage of Watergate and lost a lot of confidence in our political system. Not Jack Webb. He upheld the Federal Government and those the adults elected. His motto was: "if you do not like the Washington politicians, vote them out."
5.) I did not go in for dressing-up to attend high school. Jack Webb was a stickler for a person's appearance, so with my U.S. Army jacket my mom bought for me at an Army surplus store we once had in our hometown, and my jeans, he would have lectured me into the ground about "a man is what he wears."
4.) Easy Rider was a hit with my friends and I. We loved the acting of Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda. Jack Webb would have categorized this film as a tool for undermining our government by the powerful hippy liberals who work out of San Francisco.
3.) I understood the American people's right to have a peaceful protest if a permit is secured by the local government. Jack would have taken my head off if I had told him that I didn't have a problem with peaceful anti-war protests. He also thought of anti-war protests as vehicles of disrespect fueled by the Communist Party in Indo China.
2.) At some point in this time of my life, I dreamed of being a musician or a writer or both. But Webb looked at occupations that did not require us to work our lives away inside a smoke-filled factory (not that that is wrong) was not being in the American Way.
1.) I watched shows like Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In and The Monkees. Need I say how Jack Webb felt about these programs?
And Jack, although you and I would have clashed over these ten items, your disagreeing would not have stopped me from admiring you as a man and as a top-notch actor.