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Herb Ellis Dies: Dragnet Actor And Jack Webb Collaborator Was 97

Herb Ellis, who is known for helping Jack Webb create the iconic TV series Dragnet, died on Dec. 26 in San Gabriel, Calif. He was 97.

Born Herbert Siegel in Cleveland, Ohio on Jan. 7, 1921, Ellis was a radio actor and director. He frequently collaborated with Jack Webb. The two wrote a pilot together titled Joe Friday, Room Five which later served as the foundation for the iconic TV procedural Dragnet.

For the first eight episodes of the series, which debuted in 1952, Ellis played Officer Frank Smith opposite Webb before Ben Alexander took over the role until the series ended in 1959.

In addition to Dragnet, Ellis appeared in various TV series including Dangerous Assignment, Escape, and Tales of the Texas Rangers, and The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe. In 1967, he returned to Dragnet with Webb to appear in episodes of the revival which ran for a little over three years. He had regular roles in the 1960 series Hennesey starring Jackie Cooper as well as Peter Loves Mary.

On the movie side, Ellis appeared in notable films such as Stanley Kubricks The Killing and Billy Wilders The Fortune Cookie.

Ellis other TV credits include The Fugitive, The Andy Griffith Show, and Peter Gunn. He also appeared in numerous westerns including Frontier, The Sheriff of Cochise, Riverboat, U.S. Marshal, and Iron Horse.

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