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Detective Sergeant Joe Friday is a fictional detective of the LAPD.

Original Series

The Joe Friday character was created and played by Americanmarker actor, television producer, and writer Jack Webb (1920–1982) on Dragnet. The series ran on radio (1949–1956) and television (1951–1959 and 1967–1970), and there was also a theatrical film (1954) and a TV-movie (1969).

His final partner (on the late 1960s TV series) was Officer Bill Gannon, played by actor Harry Morgan. Over the earlier run of the series, Friday was partnered with Sgt. Ben Romero (played by Barton Yarborough), Sgt. Ed Jacobs (played by Barney Phillips), Officer Frank Smith (played first by Herbert Ellis and then by Ben Alexander), and ultimately Gannon.

During the 1958–1959 season Friday was promoted to lieutenant. However, when the show returned in 1967 he was back to the sergeant rank without any on-screen explanation. (Webb later explained that in reality the lieutenant rank was more of a supervisory position and involved less investigatory time in the field, which would change the structure of the show.)

Friday made famous the line "My name is Friday—I'm a cop," (the latter part later changed to "I carry a badge") said in the introductory narration of every TV episode. Supposedly, he also made the line, "Just the facts, ma'am," famous. In fact, what Friday actually said in an early episode is "All we want are the facts." Friday, as portrayed by Webb, never actually said the oft-repeated phrase.

Dragnet used Joe Friday's police badge as its title logo. When Webb died in 1982, Chief Darryl Gates of the Los Angeles Police Department officially retired Joe Friday's shield number, which was 714.

In reality, the "714" badge that Friday carried as a lieutenant was actually carried by LAPD officer Dan Cooke. As a sergeant, Cooke had been assigned to be the LAPD's liaison with Webb during the production of the 1967-70 series. Just before filming started on the TV-movie that became the pilot for the revived series, Cooke found the badge that LAPD had loaned to Webb during the final season of the 1951-59 series, during which Friday had been a lieutenant. Webb informed Cooke that he wanted Friday to be a sergeant in the revived series, and, consequently, would not need the lieutenant's badge from the former show. Cooke put the unused badge in a desk drawer and forgot about it. Years later, after being promoted to lieutenant himself, Cooke recalled the lieutenant's badge, with the iconic "714" number in his drawer, and asked for permission to use that badge in his new rank.

Dragnet and Adam-12, a spinoff, were the only television shows to use real LAPD badges.

In the show's heyday, people (either whimsically or seriously) would regularly visit the LAPD asking to speak to Sgt. Friday. The official response given by the front desk was "Sorry, it's Joe's day off".

1987 Dragnet Movie

In 1987, actor Dan Aykroyd starred as Joe Friday, the original Joe Friday's nephew, in the comedy film Dragnet while Harry Morgan reprised his television role as Bill Gannon, now Captain.

Second Series

Ed O'Neill starred as Joe Friday in Wolf Films' 2003 revival of Dragnet. Since LAPD had discontinued the rank of Detective Sergeant, replacing it with the rank of Detective Three, or D-3, the rank banner on Friday's badge now said "Detective" instead of "Sergeant," and Friday was referred to as "Detective Friday" instead of "Sergeant Friday." During the first season of the series, Friday's partner was named "Frank Smith," but unlike the character played by Alexander and Ellis on the original series, this Frank Smith, as played by Ethan Embry, was not an experienced, veteran officer, but a young detective being mentored by Friday. On this show, Friday spoke the phrase, "Just the facts."

References in Other Media

  • In the MMORPG City of Heroes one of the contacts a player can meet is Detective Freitag in King's Row. Freitag is Friday in German, and when asked about other things happening in the city he says "Just the facts, (name of character)".

  • Satirist Stan Freberg did several comedy records based on Dragnet, including "St George and the Dragonet" and its B-side "Little Blue Riding Hood". Freberg relates in his biography when he went to meet Webb to make sure he wouldn't mind the parody, Webb not only revealed that he was a fan of Freberg, but offered the use of the orchestra used by Webb on the show to do the famous musical sting.

  • In the Transformers series the character of Shattered Glass Thunderwing is based on Joe Friday according to the author of Blitzwing Bop.



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