Friendship and great scripts brought Harry Morgan to Dragnet

Dragnet was actually "about something" which appealed to Morgan.

As Sgt. Joe Friday's new sidekick, Harry Morgan breathed life into Dragnet when the show was revived in 1967. Fans were already plenty familiar with Jack Webb's Sgt. Friday, as he'd existed for nearly 20 years by that point. When Dragnet debuted as a radio program in 1949, Webb became a star as the voice of LAPD's best detective. Years later, when the show was broadcast as a television series, it made sense that Webb became Friday's face as well. After all, the writer/producer had conceived of the character and the show. There is no Dragnet without Jack Webb.

Fast forward to 1967, and Dragnet was being relaunched on NBC. This would be the third time audiences were introduced to the police procedural, and so, reluctantly, Webb accepted that change might be necessary. When he was pressured to bring on a new character to help keep things fresh, Webb looked to Harry Morgan, who would play Officer Bill Gannon.

While the pairing might've been new to Dragnet viewers, Morgan revealed in an interview with the El Paso Herald-Post that the two friends had appeared together before.

"We're not a new team," said Morgan. "We've worked together before. Twice in fact."

Morgan would go on to star as iconic characters in both Dragnet and M*A*S*H, where he played fan-favorite Col. Sherman T. Potter in the show's later seasons. 

But, in that interview in 1967, he was referring back to the beginning of his career, and a little-remembered movie from 1950 called Appointment With Danger.

"And it's probably a good thing most people don't remember," said Morgan, "because we played a pair of crooks being chased by police."

Later that same year, Webb and Morgan would again appear together, this time in Charlton Heston's first feature, a movie called Dark City

So when it came time to pair up again with old pal Jack Webb, the role was more than just another character for Morgan. It was a chance to work with a friend on a project that would bring out the best in them both.

"It's about something for a change," said Morgan about Dragnet '67. "And in its semidocumentary style, it's practically a public service show."

Watch Dragnet on MeTV!

Weekdays at 5:30 AM & 6 AM
Saturdays at 5:30 AM

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22 Comments

MeTvEr 2 months ago
Check out a YouTube clip of Alan Alda retelling a story Harry Morgan told him about Jack Webb. Very funny.
cperrynaples 2 months ago
The reason why Ben Alexander didn't return: He was already committed to Felony Squad!
harlow1313 2 months ago
I enjoy the comedy in the series, particularly Bill's physical problems and dietary interests.

My three favorite episodes:
Blue Boy
Brother William
The Crimson Crusader

I have studied these episodes. There are several others that tickle me.
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Adamtwelvia cperrynaples 2 months ago
You can find almost all of them on youtube!
Adamtwelvia MrsPhilHarris 2 months ago
There are only 4 seasons cause Jack Webb wanted to concentrate on Adam-12
MrsPhilHarris Adamtwelvia 2 months ago
I start my day early and while working I have on METV. It’s amazing how quickly the show starts from season 1 episode 1.
Adamtwelvia MrsPhilHarris 2 months ago
You could say the same for M*A*S*H*. The last week in December we went back to the beginning of the series, and now only about a month later we're on Season 3 and 'Abiseeinya, Henry' is this Wednesday!
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