Lisa Breen was only three months old when her parents, Jack Webb and Julie London, split in 1953, but she stayed close to her father. “He was a good dad,” Lisa tells Closer of Jack, best known as no-nonsense L.A. cop Joe Friday on Dragnet. “If there was ever anything I wanted or needed, he was there for me.”
While Joe Friday rarely showed off his softer side, Jack could be a mush, especially when it came to his pets. “He was a great animal lover,” says Lisa. “He had a Great Dane named Friday and a standard poodle named Mister, and those dogs adored him. He walked into the room, and they would freeze, like, ‘Oh, he’s here! The king!'”
During a childhood birthday party at her mother’s house, Lisa recalls, the family’s German shepherd puppy, David, got hit by a car. “My dad was there, and he was so great,” she says. “I was hysterical, and I just remember how he held me and let me cry.”
And though Joe Friday almost never smiled, Jack could be a crack-up. “He was brilliant and funny,” gushes Lisa. “If you really got to him and said something funny, oh, he had a great laugh.”
Jack and Julie remained on good terms after their divorce. He even cast her and Lisa’s stepfather, Bobby Troup, on the ’70s hit Emergency!, another series he produced, like Dragnet. “The three of them got along beautifully,” says Lisa. She attributes the fact that Jack wed four times to his workaholism, and she has “no doubt” Julie was the love of his life: “I just know.”
Sadly, Jack died of a heart attack at 62 in 1982. “I miss him and think of him all the time,” says Lisa. “He never met my daughter, but I know he would just adore her. Someday, I hope I’ll see him up there.”
Bruce Fretts, with reporting by Amanda Champagne Meadows
For more on Jack, pick up the latest issue of Closer magazine, on newsstands now.