April 2, 1920 - December 22, 1982
"Just the Facts, Ma'am."
I chose the photograph above for two reasons, the
first because it's from my favorite film, Sunset Boulevard, and second, because I
thought it really odd to find Jack Webb with a cheesy grin on his
face. This story is for my buddy Richard Waybright, without whom this would not
According to Jack's widow, Opal, "Jack loved
jazz, strong drink and beautiful women." One source mentions that
Jack used to hold court at the HMS
Bounty every Monday night during the early 70's.
I love the Bounty - a
great relic from old Hollywood - that hasn't been messed with. About a
year ago there was a wake held in the Bounty for the Ambassador
Hotel, which stood across the street.
Keaton was prattling on about the building talking to her or something like
that. That part was pretty bizarre, but overall an interesting evening.
According to John Javna and his book Cult TV,
Jack Webb was an asthmatic, only child, and grew up wanting to be an
cartoonist. He made up a portfolio and presented it to Disney, but an
offer never came. He later became friends with Walt Disney and shot Dragnet on the Disney lot.
Joe Friday (to a neo-nazi): "You keep
harping about minorities. Well mister, you're a psycho, and they're
He was married 4 times, and paid nearly a
million dollars in alimony. His first wife was singer Julie London, who
Jack hired with her husband, Bobby Troup, to work on his 1971 show, Emergency. Bizarrely, Jack had a daughter with Julie
London named Stacy,
and she was killed in 1996 in a collision with a patrol car.
He lived in unit 2604 of this tall
His apartment was actually two condominiums combined. He had
a spiral staircase installed and the massive concrete ceiling drilled through to
accommodate it. I believe this is the apartment that Cher now owns.
When she bought it, it was mentioned that it was the only two level unit in the
Other residents include Matthew Perry, Lindsay Lohan and
Brendan Fraser. Sidney Poitier used to live there, but when Shari
Belefonte was on my tour, she told me Sidney had moved. It is fascinating see the paparazzi across the street, waiting for Lohan to show up at the front
By late 1982, Jack's health began to deteriorate. He smoked
real lung-buster cigs like Chesterfields and L&M, he drank a lot and ate
loads of meat. His friends suggested getting help, but he ignored them.
Around 3 a.m. on December 23rd, Jack awoke complaining of stomach
pains. He went to the kitchen to make toast and have milk (yuck) when he
collapsed. His wife called the paramedics, who worked on Jack, to no
avail. He was pronounced dead at 3:23 a.m. of a heart attack. He was 62 years old.
The flags in the city of Los Angeles were flown
at half staff, and Jack was buried at Forest Lawn Glendale on the 28th. He was
the only civilian to ever be buried with full police honors. He is buried in a
traditional suit, and his signature red socks.
Badge 714 was retired that day.
Trivia: I clipped these from an article
that ran in the LA Times about 13 years ago. I didn't save the author, so
whomever you are, please forgive me.
The badge number was 714. There are
probably several in existence, but this
particular one was in the Hollywood History Museum.
Jack had a thing
for the number 7. His production company was even called Mark VII, and
according to one source, these filthy hands were actually his. I choose not to believe this.
The makers of Dragnet were not allowed to keep
overnight the LAPD badge shown on the show or the plastic decals with the LAPD
insignia used on studio cars. Instead, the items were brought over from
the LAPD for each day's shoot.
My friend Jayne Osborne went to the Police Academy recently, and found Jack's guns adorning
Jack also created Adam 12, starring
Martin Milner and Kent McCord. For Jack's other credits, check here.
This is Jack being funny on the Tonight
Thank you to Daniel Moyer and Eugene Alvarez for
their research, from the book, "Just the Facts, Ma'am - the authorized
biography of Jack Webb."
More Dragnet information available here.