Jack Webb planned a 1980s Dragnet reboot right before he died
Kent McCord from Adam-12 was supposed to co-star
Although he directed feature films and was a jazz connoisseur, Jack Webb will always be inextricably linked to one thing: Dragnet. His innovative police drama was incredibly realistic for its time. It debuted on television in 1951. Webb wanted authentic police stories to be told and worked closely with the LAPD to make the show as true to life as possible.
In fact, the inspiration for the series came from a police consultant Webb met while doing the film He Walked by Night in 1948. The consultant shared real police stories with the 28-year-old actor — who was looking to do more in the entertainment industry.
The original Dragnet ran for eight seasons, ending in 1959. Webb parlayed his television success into a filmmaking career. While initially popular, his films never found the audience that Dragnet had. Universal and NBC offered him the chance to revive the show in the late 1960s and he took it.
The new version of Dragnet started in 1967 and aired four seasons. Webb returned as Sgt. Joe Friday. His new partner was Bill Gannon, played by Harry Morgan. In 1968, Webb created Adam-12, a show that focused on beat cops instead of detectives. Officers Malloy and Reed from Adam-12 (played by Martin Milner and Kent McCord, respectively) even appeared alongside Friday and Gannon in an episode of Dragnet. McCord was in multiple episodes but not always as Officer Jim Reed.
Throughout the 1970s, Jack Webb oversaw the production of Adam-12 and its paramedic spin-off show Emergency! Both were incredibly popular. Emergency! ran for seven successful seasons from 1972-1979.
At the beginning of the next decade, Webb was considering bringing back the show he was most known for.
He wrote five scripts for a new version of Dragnet that would air in 1983. Harry Morgan was busy playing Colonel Potter on M*A*S*H so Sgt. Friday needed a new partner. Webb enlisted Kent McCord to fill the role. Whether McCord was meant play an older version of his character from Adam-12 or a totally new role is unclear.
Tragically, Jack Webb passed away before the series got off the ground. He suffered a fatal heart attack in December 1982. The city of Los Angeles flew flags at half-mast in his honor and the LAPD retired Sgt. Friday’s badge number – 714.