4 More things to know about Jack Webb (Part Deux in a series)
After the color reincarnation of Dragnet had exhausted its run, TV genius Jack Webb decided there were plenty of stories to be mined from the day-to-day exploits of the average cop on patrol duty. Thus was the genesis for Adam-12, which premiered in 1968 and ran for seven seasons. (ed. note: if you haven't checked out Kara's terrific post on Jack Webb and Dragnet, be sure to read it here)
1. How Adam-12 got the name
The title of the show was inspired by the official LAPD designation for a two-man patrol car, "Adam." Each car was also assigned a numeral that described its patrol area. When it came time to name his new show, Webb simply recited a litany of consecutive numbers ("Adam 1, Adam 2, Adam 3" etc.) until he decided that "Adam-12" had just the right sound. The voice heard intoning that call sign on the radio in every episode was Shaaron Claridge, who was an actual police dispatcher at LAPD's Van Nuys division.
2. Keepin' it Real
Webb made sure that the equipment and procedures on Adam-12 were as true to life as possible. Reed and Malloy's patrol car switched from a Plymouth Belvedere to a Plymouth Satellite and finally to an AMC Matador as did the LAPD fleet.
Arrest procedures were changed to keep step with actual police protocol "“ from having suspects put their hands behind their backs, to putting them behind their heads, to having them lay face down, hands spread out to their sides. And in the earliest episodes, Malloy and Reed wore long sleeved-shirts no matter how hot and humid the weather. This, too, was based in reality: LAPD's Chief Parker was a stickler for professionalism (he despised tattoos) and believed that fully-covering long sleeves and neckties were the only proper uniform for a police officer.
3. Six Degrees of Nepotism
There was no dearth of nepotism in the land of Jack Webb. Kent McCord played high school football with Ricky Nelson, which helped him earn a recurring role on Rick's TV series, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. When McCord later landed the role of Officer Jim Reed on Adam-12, the favor was repaid when Nelson's wife, Kristin Harmon, was cast as Reed's wife.
Hollingsworth Morse directed many episodes of Dragnet and Adam-12, and he convinced Jack Webb to audition his friend, Gary Crosby. Bing's son impressed Webb enough that he took on the recurring role of resident obnoxious smart-aleck Officer Ed Wells on Adam-12. And Jack Webb also graciously gave his ex-wife Julie London, along with her new husband Bobby Troup, starring roles on Emergency!
4. If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It
The Adam-12 formula had proven so successful that Jack Webb didn't tinker with it when casting Emergency! Kevin Tighe was hired to play Roy DeSoto, the veteran firefighter/paramedic who took rookie Johnny Gage (Randolph Mantooth) under his wing at the beginning of the series. The dark-haired, handsome Mantooth bore a striking resemblance to Kent McCord's Jim Reed, but Tighe's naturally auburn hair had to be bleached strawberry blond in the early seasons so that his look was more reminiscent of Milner's Pete Malloy. By the final season, Tighe was allowed to let his locks return to their natural darker color.
>MORE TV TRIVIA YA' OUGHT TO KNOW:
Randy Mantooth had a brief run as a teenage pin-up until his attorneys sent cease-and-desist orders to 16 and Tiger Beat magazines; it seems Mantooth thought teen idol-dom would derail his career as a serious actor.
Gary Crosby wrote a tell-all "Daddy Dearest"-type book in 1983 detailing the physical and emotional abuse he and his brothers were subjected to by Der Bingle. It was titled Going My Own Way.