Dum da dum dum. Those 4 notes comprise perhaps the most recognizable opener in all of television, signaling the beginning of an episode of TV’s first hit crime drama, Dragnet. Starring Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday, the show followed detectives of the LAPD as they solved crimes and restored justice to the City of Angels. Originally a radio program, Dragnet aired on television for the first time as part of Chesterfield Sound Off Time on December 16, 1951. The success of the pilot led to a seven year stint on NBC, beginning on January 3, 1952, and lasting until 1959.
Known for using real police cases, Dragnet had a no-nonsense style, was shot it black and white film, and made use of teleprompters. Actor Leonard Nimoy recalls guest-starring on the program:
A second incarnation of Dragnet launched in 1967, still with Jack Webb as Sgt. Friday, but now with Harry Morgan co-starring as Officer Bill Gannon:
And a third Dragnet appeared in 2003, from producer Dick Wolf:
For more dish on Dragnet, visit our Dragnet show page.