Thanks to Jack Webb, Bill Gannon was one of Harry Morgan's most satisfying roles

Dragnet was serious, organized and straightforward. All things Harry Morgan loved about the series, all designed by co-star Jack Webb.

Harry Morgan, formerly known as Harry Bratsburg, was no stranger to several roles throughout his long Hollywood career. The big screen star turned television standout became known for his authoritative roles and his funny personality on set. 

Some of that hilarity was clear in several seasons of M*A*S*H, in which he played the memorable Col. Sherman T. Potter, the replacement of Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) during the fourth season of the series. 

M*A*S*H will always jump out when the career of Harry Morgan is brought up, but the detective, Los Angeles based series Dragnet should certainly be in the conversation as well, and for several reasons. 

Morgan played the role of Officer Bill Gannon, who worked closely with Sgt. Joe Friday, played by director Jack Webb. The series was straightforward, offered little comedy and according to Morgan, served a purpose. 

"It's about something for a change," Morgan said of the series in a 1967 article from The North Adams Transcript. "In its semidocumentary style, it's practically a public service."

Morgan said a lot of things on Dragnet were done right for the time. The nature of the series called for a serious demeanor, and that's exactly what made this series stand out. For Morgan, the consistency and mind of Jack Webb is why Dragnet was always one of his favorite productions.

"I think [of] all of the things I've done on television, those may be the most satisfying in some respects, and that was due to Jack," Morgan said in a 2004 interview with the Archive of American Television. "He was a really great producer. He had a hand in writing most of the scripts and really was the master of the whole thing."

"Honest, straightforward, no compromises and it had a good message," Morgan added. "I think it was done seriously and with a very good point of a view. Entirely beneficial seems to me." 

The show had very few comedic relief scenes, and that was by design. However, one could only hold back the incredibly funny Harry Morgan back so much. 

"[Bill Gannon] was sort of in a way a kind of a comic foil for Jack," Morgan said. "A good officer and all that but the comedy was supplied by me I guess in the show. He was a colorful character, fun to play."

Morgan eventually added with a chuckle, "I was always joking around. Sometimes I played it a little too lightly and Jack would say 'hold it, it's not all that funny.'"

In the end, Morgan said the show worked and was as successful as it was because of the chemistry he and Webb had. 

"I admired Jack a lot and I liked him a lot. We had a wonderful relationship."

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32 Comments

thediamond 16 months ago
I love Dragnet! Jack Webb did such an excellent job with all of his productions and Dragnet is one of my all time favorites. I wish Dragnet was shown after Adam 12. Harry Morgan and Jack Webb were terrific.
Adamtwelvia thediamond 4 months ago
After Ada,-12 and before M*A*SH*. Starting Season 4 you could call it the Harry Morgan Power Hour!
thediamond 16 months ago
I love Dragnet! Jack Webb did such an excellent job with all of his productions and Dragnet is one of my all time favorites. I wish Dragnet was shown after Adam 12. Harry Morgan and Jack Webb were terrific.
SteveMcnary 16 months ago
Dragnet was such a joke. I remember the "infamous" Blue Boy episode where they were after LSD users. The LSD was so powerful all it took for them to sober up was Joe Friday telling them to sober up. LOL Jack Webb walked like he was too stiff to move. The episode where the young couple who smoked pot were too stoned to remember their baby was in the bathtub & drowned. How corny can you get? Dragnet sucked cuz it was so unreal.
LoveMETV22 16 months ago
[image=https://weigel-comments.s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/x2g6M-1676221914-Screenshot 2023-02-12 at 12-09-44 phrase.it.png]
Dhoppe2020 16 months ago
He also played General Steele for 1 episode on MASH
Adamtwelvia Dhoppe2020 4 months ago
"When the sun goes down and the rain comes out..."
forthekids 16 months ago
I remember watching this late 1960's version of"Dragnet"on NBC TV..and I enjoyed every episode..Mr.Morgan's "Officer Gannon" was the perfect foil for Mr.Webb's "Sgt.Friday".
Adanor forthekids 16 months ago
They would always put the year in the title. It was Dragnet 1969 and I was terrified. It was December and I knew that Dragnet 1970 was just around the corner, but I would stare at the screen and I could not image that a year could be called 1970. Then it happened: Dragnet 1970 and all was well.
kkvegas 16 months ago
I love some of the comic bits they gave Gannon to do -- his secret barbecue sauce recipe, his tackle box lunch box, and his obsession with wallpaper -- on one episode it was "in" and on another it was "out."
kkvegas 16 months ago
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AgingDisgracefully 16 months ago
Joe Friday never asked Why.
It was always, "How's that?"
tootsieg 16 months ago
Friday and Gannon were a great detective duo.
MrBilly 16 months ago
You just can't beat anything from Jack webb. Great television 📺
Runeshaper 16 months ago
Jack Webb and Harry Morgan really were GREAT together 😊
Andybandit 16 months ago
Harry Morgan was good in Dragnet and MASH.
MrsPhilHarris 16 months ago
I like his character on Dragnet. I wish the would move the show to the evening from the very early morning.
Dhoppe2020 MrsPhilHarris 16 months ago
You can watch episodes on you tube and Freevee
cperrynaples 16 months ago
Fun Fact: Webb wanted Ben Alexander from the '50's version, but he was committed to Felony Squad!
justjeff 16 months ago
Before Dragnet, Harry Morgan co-starred with Cara Williams in a sitcom called "Pete and Gladys"...
Avie justjeff 16 months ago
Six years before "Pete and Gladys" Morgan was regular in the series "December Bride."
justjeff Avie 16 months ago
Right! With Spring Byington...
harlow1313 16 months ago
Brother William and Blue Boy were legendary characters in my high school.

I enjoy Friday's stiff walk and Oliver-Douglas-like speeches. Friday and Gannon do a lot of nonverbal communicating with glances.
MrsPhilHarris harlow1313 16 months ago
😂 Good observations. Fridays stiff run was pretty awesome too! I always giggle when I see him running.
LoveMETV22 16 months ago
Always enjoyed the Copper Clapper Caper done on Johnny Carson, with Jack Webb, but love the extra narrative Johnny added before the clip years after:
justjeff LoveMETV22 16 months ago
One of my all-time favorite Carson routines!

I also loved Carnac the Magnificent....

The answer is: "Siss--Boom--Bah".... "What are the last sounds you hear just before a sheep explodes?"

The answer is: "Walk softly and carnry a big stick"..... "What do you do in Central Park at Night?"
cperrynaples LoveMETV22 16 months ago
I believe the Webb segment was 1967! Carson loved it so much he played it every year on the anniversary show! NOT as good as the tomahawk sketch...LOL!
MrsPhilHarris LoveMETV22 16 months ago
That’s a good one!
harlow1313 LoveMETV22 16 months ago
I enjoyed that Carson clapper clip. "Dragnet" is a show that has always amused me, right from the opening, "This is the city..."

"The Crimson Crusader" episode is but one example.
justjeff cperrynaples 16 months ago
You mean "Frontier Bris!"
CurleyGirl1018 LoveMETV22 16 months ago
I loved this too! It showed Jack Webb had a lighter side. I probably wouldn’t watch Dragnet if Harry Morgan wasn’t in it! He provided levity without making the series a joke. He found happiness in the simplest of things.
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