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My Name's Friday: The Unauthorized But True Story of Dragnet and the Films of Jack Webb Paperback – June 1, 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"...if you remember the show fondly, as millions of boomers do, you will find this book irresistible." -- Baby Boomer Headquarters (BBHQ.com) Book of the Month, April 2002

"The full story of the show and its creator, impeccably researched and exceedingly well told." -- Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, May 2002

Edgar Award nominee, Best Critical/Biographical Work of 2001. -- Mystery Writers of America, February 2, 2002

The Webb that emerges from the pages of Hayde's book is a man who believed in what he was doing. -- Scott Eyman, Cox News Service, September 16, 2001

This (book) about Jack Webb - creator and star of "Dragnet" - is, in effect, a monument to him. -- John Goodspeed, The Star Democrat, August 10, 2001

From the Publisher

Just the facts behind the law and order show of all time! The "Dragnet" presented in MY NAME'S FRIDAY is not only the crisp, campy color television series that played from 1967 to 1970. It is also the radio series of 1949-1957 and the television series of 1951-1959, which became TV's best known, longest-running and most acclaimed police drama.

Here the narrative follows the ebb and flow of "Dragnet" from radio to television, detailing every awkward moment and production feature that refined the drama throughout the 1950's. From the beginning, Jack Webb had an idea of what the show should be, but it was an evolving idea, a refinement that MY NAME'S FRIDAY chronicles as the show matured from radio to television. Hayde goes beyond "just the facts" to offer readers a comprehensive look at the show that defined an entire genre.

Also included are program guides of the radio and television episodes, a collection of Sgt. Friday's most well-known speeches, and a glossary of police terms used in the series.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 317 pages
  • Publisher: Cumberland House Publishing (June 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581821905
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581821901
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,145,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael J. Hayde is an author and popular culture historian specializing in film, television and radio history. His books include My Name's Friday: The Unauthorized but True Story of Dragnet and the Films of Jack Webb; Flights of Fantasy: The Unauthorized but True Story of Radio and TV's Adventures of Superman, and (co-authored with Chuck Harter) Little Elf: A Celebration of Harry Langdon. He maintains several blogs, the most popular of which is Better Living Through Television, a collection of essays that averages over 150 page views weekly. Mr. Hayde has appeared on such U.S. television programs as Unsolved Mysteries and TV Land's Myths and Legends, and is a regular contributor to the annual Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Maryland. He lives in Manassas, Virginia with his wife and four children.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The subtitle succinctly describes this book: a biography of Jack Webb with the emphasis on "Dragnet" in its various forms and on his long neglected feature films. Most readers, like myself, will probably get the book for its coverage of "Dragnet" in its successive permutations: radio series (1949-55), the original TV series (1951-59), theatrical film (1954), TV movie (1966), and the second TV series (1967-70). Hayde shows that in all three media, Webb was an innovator, using new and existing technologies to enhance realism and impact and speed up production. He was a stickler for realism in everything from doorknobs to nomenclature. When "Dragnet" moved to TV, Webb kept the radio series' actors, despite the network's fears that they weren't glamorous enough for TV; besides being famously loyal, Webb wanted actors who looked like real people, not movie stars. Hayde also shows that "Dragnet" was more than just reenactment, but showed the human side of police work and the effects of crime.
Some years ago, Leonard Malton wrote that Webb's theatrical films demanded reappraisal. Hayde does here, perhaps giving them their first detailed examinations since their premieres. Webb had seen radio and TV as stepping stones to film, but his features are often considered less successful than his TV shows. If so, this book shows that any shortcomings were due to writing, not acting or technique.
Hayde describes the success Webb enjoyed. The "Dragnet" dum-de-dum-dum theme is one of the most recognized in the world. The two "Dragnet" TV series were huge hits in both prime time and syndication and Webb also enjoyed success with "Adam-12" and "Emergency." He realized about $2.5 million from the sale of the syndication rights to the first "Dragnet" TV series, a huge sum for the day.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"My Name's Friday" tells the story of producer-director-actor-writer Jack Webb. Fans of "Dragnet" will be surprised by the sheer volume of Webb's work in radio, television, and motion pictures. The scope of Michael Hayde's engrossing book goes beyond "Dragnet" and discusses all things Webb, with plenty of color and numerous "exhibits": first-person recollections by those involved in production, radio and TV episode guides, dozens of photos, transcripts of Webb's most memorable on-air speeches, even samples of "Dragnet" merchandise from the 1950s. The author takes pains to show the various facets of Webb's personality: intense workaholic, perceptive critic, enthusiastic jazz aficionado, loyal friend. Best of all for curious readers, the author has done a terrific research job, admirably placing the "Dragnet" phenomenon in its proper historical context. A fine book: Sgt. Friday would salute this one.
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Format: Paperback
Greatly superior in organization and analysis to _Just the Facts, Ma'am_, this book does well both discussing Jack Webb and Dragnet, and the love-hate relationship they had with each other. With lots of examples from the various scripts Webb wrote or oversaw, the book provides a solid guide to the man and his works, and is a must-read for anyone who is interested in either.
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Format: Paperback
It's too bad that Jack Webb is better-remembered for inspiring the 1987 Ackroyd/Hanks spoof of *Dragnet* than he is for the original series, because Webb was possibly television's most influential creator. In fact, he is perhaps the closest thing TV ever came to producing what French film scholars call and *auteur*.
*Dragnet* was extraordinarily influential, not only on TV, but on literature as well. Writers of cop novels like Ed MacBain and J.J. Marric cheerfully acknowledged the influence of *Dragnet* on their work. Indeed, when the term "police procedural" was first coined by mystery critic Anthony Boucher to describe crime fiction that tried to accurately portray law enforcement, it was *Dragnet* he pointed to as the best exemplar of the form.
Hayde carefully traces the development of *Dragnet*, from the germ of an idea that came to Webb while he was playing a small supporting role in a 1948 cop movie, to its beginnings as a radio drama, through its debut as the most popular dramatic series on television, its release as one of the highest-grossing movie attractions of the '50s, finally to its revival in the oft-repeated 1967-70 series. He also gives deatiled accounts of Webb's other work, movies like *Pete Kelly's Blues* and *The DI*, TV shows like *Adam-12* and *O'Hara - US Treasury*, his book-length thank you note to the LAPD *The Badge*, and even his ill-advised turn as a romantic crooner in the LP *You're My Girl*.
It's not only the definitive book about *Dragnet*, it's one of the very best books about a television series ever published.
I wish I could say that I wrote it, but I can't. I'm sure glad Mr. Hayde did.
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Format: Paperback
This is a must if you are collecting the radio shows, original TV series, or the '67-'70 version. A lot of the 50's series is on DVD, but they are scattered on all sorts of compilations. This book helps keep track of what you've got. I particularly enjoyed hearing from the extras that Webb used religiously.

But beyond Dragnet, there's a lot of interesting stuff here, how Webb was a jazz nut, including his foray into recording with his spoken-word "You're My Girl" album.

I think it's very interesting how he worked with ex-wife and her husband on Emergency! Many paramedics credit Emergency! with inspiring them to join this service. He obviously loved police and emergency services and his hometown. It makes you wonder, if Webb had lived, what his creative reaction to say the LA riots and the OJ trial would have been.
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