Saturday, October 4, 2008

You Really Don't Know Jack


Webb, that is.  



Oh, I know you think of him as the mono-toned speaking Sergeant Friday of the Los Angeles Police Department, or perhaps as radio's Jeff Regan Private Eye, or even as Pete Kelly who played the blues.


But there was so much more to Jack Webb.



Wikipedia Bio Information

Jack Webb

John Randolph Webb
April 2, 1920(1920-04-02)
Flag of California Santa Monica, California

December 23, 1982 (aged 62)
Flag of California West Hollywood, California

Other name(s)
John Randolph
pen name

Julie London (divorce); three subsequent marriages




What most people don't know is the wild, madcap, zany Jack Webb.






Well, yes.  All of those adjectives apply.



At least to the wild, madcap, zany JACK WEBB SHOW of 1946.    While it was a short-lived series, and not many episodes are known to have survived, we do have proof of their existence.



Here are two episodes of The Jack Webb Show, courtesy of Free Old Time Radio Shows  on the Internet.   



Perhaps not Jack's finest hour, but I like them.




1946-04-10 Facts On Parade

1946-04-17 Slim Slade



This was before he was to become Pat Novak for Hire, or Johnny Modero, or even Mr. Malone. 


Jack also appeared on many anthology radio shows as well, such as Escape!  and Suspense during the late 1940's.    



In 1947,  Jack appeared as wise cracking Johnny Modero, proprietor of a boat shop on Pier 23, and who solved murders on the side.   


There aren't very many episodes of this series around anymore, but here are two:


1947-06-19 Pete Sutro Case
19xx-xx-xx Fatal Auction




In 1948, Jack starred as Jeff Regan: Private Investigator - who opened the show with lines like  "I get ten a day and expenses from a detective bureau run by a guy named Lyon -- Anthony J. Lyon. They call me the Lyon's Eye...".  


Here are 15 episodes of this pre-dragnet series to download and enjoy.


(courtesy of

1948-07-17 the prodigal daughter
1948-07-24 the lonesome lady
1948-07-31 lady with the golden hair
1948-08-07 Man Who Liked Mountains
1948-08-14 the diamond quartet
1948-08-21 The Man Who Came Back
1948-08-28 Man In The Door
1948-09-04 House By The Sea
1948-09-11 cain and abel and the santa maria
1948-09-25 Lady With No Name
1948-10-02 Man With The Key
1948-11-20 pilgrims progress
1948-12-04 The Lawyer And The Lady
1948-12-18 Man Who Lived By The Sea, The
1949-10-19 the lady from brazil




Webb finally hit it big as Sgt. Friday on Dragnet, first on radio, then on television.  



According to Wikipedia, the original Dragnet  ran on radio from June 3, 1949 to February 26, 1957 and on television from December 16, 1951 to August 23, 1959, and from January 12, 1967 to April 16, 1970. All of these versions ran on NBC.



Dragnet became an indelible part of our culture, and was copied (and parodied) often in the years to come.  



Perhaps the most famous parodies came from Stan Freberg, an early genius in broadcasting, who produced a 45 RPM record entitled St. George and the Dragonet, with Little Blue Riding Hood on the flip side.  


This became the first comedy record to sell more than 1 million copies.



But Jack wasn't above making fun of his own image, and the Dragnet show.   Here, in 1968, he does a remarkable job investigating the case of the copper clappers with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.




(click to watch)




You can download literally hundreds of Dragnet shows from the Internet.   They are all in the public domain.   The only restriction you might find is your download speed, and the amount of time you want to spend clicking on links.



There are web sites (OTRCAT being one) that offer these shows already on CD, usually for a small copying fee.  Usually no more than $4 or $5 a disk.  


If you have a limited amount of time to devote to searching, or a slow download connection, you might find that it is worth the cost to purchase these disks.



For those that have the bandwidth, and enjoy the hunt, there are a good many no-cost options available to you.



There are 377 individual Dragnet shows currently available for free download at FREEOTRSHOWS.COM



Or you can download 9 CD's of Dragnet from the Internet Archive here.


(460 MB)ZIP
(636 MB)ZIP
(637 MB)ZIP
(646 MB)ZIP
(647 MB)ZIP
(651 MB)ZIP
(654 MB)ZIP
(664 MB)ZIP
(677 MB)ZIP





And of course, Dragnet was one of a great many radio shows that moved successfully into television.   



Here are a handful of the early Dragnet TV shows available on the Internet Archive.



The Big Seventeen
Keywords: Dragnet; Classic TV
Downloads: 1,453
Average rating: 4.5 stars (2 reviews) 


The Big Boys
Keywords: Dragnet; Classic TV
Downloads: 1,620
Average rating: 4.5 stars (2 reviews)


The Big Hands
Keywords: Dragnet; Classic TV
Downloads: 1,337
Average rating: 5.0 stars (1 review)


The Big Run
Keywords: Dragnet; Classic TV
Downloads: 1,285
Average rating: 5.0 stars (1 review)


The Big Thief
Keywords: Dragnet; Classic TV
Downloads: 1,282
Average rating: 5.0 stars (1 review)


The Big Trunk
Keywords: Dragnet; Classic TV
Downloads: 1,632
Average rating: 5.0 stars (1 review)



The Big Show
Keywords: Dragnet; Classic TV
Average rating: 4.5 stars (2 reviews)


The Big Betty
Keywords: Dragnet; Classic TV
Downloads: 1,319
Average rating: 5.0 stars (1 review)


The Big September Man
Keywords: Dragnet; Classic TV
Downloads: 1,197
Average rating: 4.0 stars (3 reviews)




Radio, TV, Movies. . . . Actor, producer, director . . .  and a Jazz enthusiast to boot,  Jack Webb managed to pour a lot into his 62 years on this earth.


We are fortunate to have a huge body of his work to enjoy more than 60 years later.

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