Ben Alexander

Active - 1916 - 1957  |   Born - May 26, 1911   |   Died - Jul 5, 1969   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Crime, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Fans of the 1950s TV series Dragnet were usually taken aback to discover that Jack Webb's co-star, the rumpled, balding Ben Alexander, had once been a golden-haired child actor. Born in Nevada and raised in California, Alexander made his screen debut at age 5 in Every Pearl a Tear. He went on to portray Lillian Gish's young brother in D.W. Griffith's World War I epic Hearts of the World. It was in another WW I classic, the early-talkie All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), that Alexander made his first positive impression as an adult actor in the role of Kemmerick, the tragic amputation victim. Closing out his movie career in 1940, Alexander became a busy radio actor and announcer, returning to on-camera work with his six-year (1953-1959) stint on TV's Dragnet. As Officer Frank Smith, Alexander helped popularized Jack Webb's laconic "Just the facts, ma'am" style. Occasionally permitted to improvise his dialogue, Alexander once sent the usually stone-faced Webb into convulsions by beginning a conversation with "Joe? Joe? My hair hurts, Joe." Following the cancellation of Dragnet, Alexander briefly emceed the daytime TV game show About Faces. In 1966, Ben Alexander returned to police work as Sergeant Dan Briggs on the weekly ABC cop series Felony Squad.

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