Ben Alexander

  1. Harry Morgan, Dragnet, TV, 1967-1970.   The second coming… Jack Webb was alive and well, as creative as ever, but Ben Alexander, his 1951-1959LA cop partner was in Felony Squadand the ABCPD was not about to let him serve with the NCBPD.  Webb reluctantly retooled Officer Frank Smith as Officer Frank Gannon, played by Web ‘s old mate, Morgan.  (Ben,  acting since age six, opposite Mary Pickford, in The Little American, 1917,  died during the run in 1969).. Webb kept Joe Friday getting the facts, ma’am, for just four seasons before pulling the plug in favour of his other Mark VII projects.  These eventually lead to a second  reboot for 1982, when he had to  create another new sidekick. asMorgan was commandiug M*A*S*Hand AfterMASH. Webb chose Ken McCord from his company’s Adam-12 cop show… and then Webb died from a heart attack just just before Christmas, 1982. The reboot died with him… Until seven years later when NBC launched The New Dragnet  (and, indeed, The New Adam-12), with Don Stroud commanding Jeff Ostderhage and Bernard White  for two seasons, 1989-1990.  (Neither one was called Joe Friday). Finally (?), producer Dick Wolf, not content  with all  the mulitifarious Law & Order franchises on his plate (and they owed plenty to Webb’s creation) agreed to mount a new version with a woefully miscast Ed O ’Neill as Friday. An abortion in need of aborting. After a dozen lifeless episodes, as per Webb’s matrix, it was switched to the L&O formula as LA Dragnet, with a Lieutenant Friday, and died a merciful death. When first pre-planning the reboot, Dick Wolf had told me in Monaco that he’d do his best. “BecauseI don’t wanna be the guy who killed Dragnet.”  But he is.

 Birth year: 1911Death year: 1969Other name: Casting Calls:  1