Jeff Regan

Created by Jack Webb

“I get ten a day and expenses…they call me the Lyon’s Eye.

The last of the three detective shows Jack Webb did before Dragnet made him a superstar was Jeff Regan, Investigator followed the adventures of JEFF REGAN.

Regan (played by Webb, of course) was a rough-and-tumble private eye working for the International Detective Bureau, working out of the Cosmpolitan Building in Los Angeles. The agency was run by pompous, cantankerous, penny-pinching oddball Anthony J. Lyon, (voiced by Wilms Herbert) with whom Regan was not always on good terms.

As Regan puts it, “Lyon doesn’t care where the money comes from just so long as it comes to him. He cashes in on trouble and for him it pay off. For me, it’s work.”

But hoo-boy, was it fun. Regan was tough, tenacious, and had a hard, dry sense of humor, and the hard-boiled (some say over-boiled) dialogue went rat-a-tat-tat. His partner, Joe Canto (played by Barton Yarborough) could barely keep up. In fact, when it made its debut on July 10, 1948, the show was for some reason called Joe Canto, Private Eye–even though Regan was clearly the star of the show. By the following week, however, it was more appropriately called Jeff Regan, Investigator.

Go figure…

Anyway, by most accounts, the show was fairly well-plotted, Webb’s voice was great, and the supporting cast were skillful. And the over-the-top gaudy patter Webb and crew had developed in his two previous stabs at the detective genre (Pat Novak…for Hire and Johnny Madero, Pier 23), chockful of snapping one-liner and similes that even Chandler may have blushed over, was in full force. Plus, it finally gave Webb something he’d missed in the previous two shows: national exposure. Still, the ever-ambitious Webb, who was both writing and starring in the show, pulled the plug in December of 1948, to star in a revamped version of Pat Novak…for Hire for its 1949 run, while simultaneously prepping for new Dragnet show, which would also make its debut in 1949..

But Jeff Regan, Investigator was still popular enough that it was resurrected in October 1949 with a new cast, with Frank Graham stepping in to play Regan, and Frank Nelson portrayed Lyon. This version ran on CBS, sometimes as a West Coast regional, until August 1950.

THE EVIDENCE

  • “It was hard to figure. It was like trying to throw a saddle on a porpoise.”
  • “I had about as much chance as a snowball in a Turkish bath.”
  • “When she said, ‘Hello,’ it melted all over you, like honey on a hot biscuit.”
  • “He was crumpled up against the desk and she was staring down at him as if she forgot to water the plants.”
  • “The office was fulla taboo.”
  • “You can’t miss it. It’s a big building–made outta white granite; The Cosmpolitan Building. The man who built it is doing a long run up at San Quentin–for graft. Anthony J. Lyon, the guy I work for for, rents an office in that building: International Detective Bureau, Suite 308–a coupla rooms with a connecting waste basket. The Lyon has the only desk in the office–and a typewriter that Remington dropped from their catalog back in 1915.”

RADIO

  • JOE CANTO, PRIVATE EYE
    (1948, CBS)
    24 30-minute episodes
    Writer: Jack Webb
    Director: Sterling Tracy
    Starring Jack Webb as JEFF REGAN
    and Barton Yarborough as JOE CANTO
    and Wilms Herbert as Anthony Lyon
    Guest stars: Herb Butterfield, Lawrence Dobkin, Barry Kroeger, Lurene Tuttle, Ed Begley, Wilms Herbert, Betty Lou Gerson

    • “The Prodigal Daughter” (July 10, 1948)
  • JEFF REGAN, INVESTIGATOR
    (aka “Jeff Regan, Private Eye”)
    (1948, CBS)
    24 30-minute episodes
    Writer: Jack Webb
    Director: Sterling Tracy
    Starring Jack Webb as JEFF REGAN
    with Barton Yarborough as JOE CANTO
    and Wilms Herbert as Anthony Lyon
    Guest stars: Herb Butterfield, Lawrence Dobkin, Barry Kroeger, Lurene Tuttle, Ed Begley, Wilms Herbert, Betty Lou Gerson

    • “The Prodigal Daughter” (July 17, 1948)
    • “The Lonesome Lady” (July 24, 1948)
    • “The Lady with the Golden Hair” (July 31, 1948)
    • “The Man Who Liked Mountains” (August 7, 1948)
    • “The Diamond Quartet” (August 14, 1948)
    • “The Man Who Came Back” (August 21, 1948)
    • “The Man in the Door” (August 28, 1948),
    • “The House by the Sea” (September 4, 1948)
    • “The Story of Cain and Abel and the Santa Maria” (September 11, 1948)
    • “The Gambler and the Lady” (September 18, 1948)
    • “The Lady with No Name” (September 25, 1948)
    • “The Man with the Key” (October 2, 1948)
    • “The Too Many Mrs. Rogers” (October 9, 1948)
    • “The Lost Lady” (October 16, 1948)
    • “Title Unknown” (October 23, 1948)
    • “Fourteen Grand and No Client” (October 30, 1948)
    • “The Lady with Too Much Hair” (November 6, 1948)
    • “The Guy from Gower Gulch” (November 13, 1948)
    • “The Pilgrim’s Progress” (November 20, 1948)
    • “The Man Who Fought Back” (November 27, 1948)
    • “The Lawyer and the Lady” (December 4, 1948)
    • “The Gambler and His Lady” (December 11, 1948)
    • “The Man Who Lived by the Sea” (December 18, 1948)
  • JEFF REGAN, INVESTIGATOR
    (1949-50, CBS)
    47 30-minute episodes
    Starring Frank Graham as JEFF REGAN
    (later replaced by Paul Dubrov)
    and Frank Nelson as Anthony Lyon
    Guests stars: Frank Nelson, William Conrad, Arthur Q. Bryan, Lurene Tuttle

    • “The Lady by the Fountain” (October 5, 1949)
    • “The Man in the Church” (October 12, 1949)
    • “The Lady from Brazil” (October 19, 1949)
    • “The Lady Who Wanted to Live” (October 26, 1949)
    • “The Man in the Black Suit” (November 2, 1949)
    • “The Little Man’s Lament” (November 9, 1949)
    • “The Two Little Sisters” (November 16, 1949)
    • “If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d Have Wrecked A Train” (November 23, 1949)
    • “Title Unknown” (November 30, 1949)
    • “The Hundred Dollar Guy” (December 7, 1949)
    • “The Friday Night Off” (December 14, 1949)
    • “Some Enchanted Car-Hop” (December 21, 1949)
    • “The Man on the Hook” (December 28, 1949)
    • “Not Quite a Thousand Violins” (January 4, 1950)
    • “Sure, A Little Bit of Murder” (January 11, 1950)
    • “A Streetcar Named Schultz” (January 18, 1950)
    • “The Killer of Cats” (January 25, 1950)
    • “All the Queen’s Men” (February 1, 1950)
    • “Title Unknown” (February 8, 1950)
    • “Mama Inez” (February 15, 1950)
    • “The Gorilla That Always Said Yeh-ah” (February 22, 1950)
    • “Title Unknown” (March 1, 1950)
    • “Title Unknown” (March 8, 1950)
    • ” Wine, Women and Worms” (March 15, 1950)
    • “The Hollywood Story” (March 22, 1950)
    • “A Tree Grows In Encino” (March 29, 1950)
    • “Title Unknown” (April 5, 1950)
    • “The Man behind the Rod” (April 12, 1950)
    • “The Smell of Magnolias” (April 19, 1950)
    • “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (April 26, 1950)
    • “A Cure For Insomnia” (May 3, 1950)
    • “Oil for the Lamps of Burbank” (May 12, 1950)
    • “Lo, the Gentle Earthworm” (May 19, 1950)
    • “A Claw, A Corkscrew, A Coffin, A Crab” (May 26, 1950)
    • “This May Hurt Just a Little” (June 2, 1950)
    • “Title Unknown” (June 11, 1950)
    • “They’ve Got More Than Coffee In Brazil” (June 18, 1950)
    • “No Sad Clowns for Me” (June 25, 1950)
    • “Title Unknown” (July 2, 1950)
    • “She’s Lovely, She’s Engaged, She Eats Soybeans” (July 9, 1950)
    • “All His Sisters and His Cousins and His Uncles and His Aunts” (July 16, 1950)
    • “Ninety-Nine Men on A Deadman’s Chest” (July 23, 1950)
    • “A Fire for Romano” (July 30, 1950)
    • “There’s Nothing Like A Pork Chop When Supper Rolls Around” (August 6, 1950)
    • “A Streetcar Named Schultz” (August 13, 1950)
    • “Gentlemen Prefer Horses” (August 27, 1950)
    • “The British Are Coming” (September 3, 1950)

COLLECTIONS

  • Jeff Regan, Investigator (2012, Onesmedia) | Buy this collection
    Includes 33 episodes on mp3.  Allegedly. As with many of these slightly dubious OTR packagers, actual details are often few and far between. 
  • Jeff Regan, Investigator: Stand By for Mystery (2014, Radio Spirits) | Buy this collection
    Includes 12 episodes on mp3 from the second run, starring Frank Graham and Paul Dubov. 
  • Jeff Regan, Investigator: The Lyon’s Eye (2018, Radio Spirits) | Listen to it now!
    Includes 16 episodes starring Jack Webb.
Respectfully submitted by Jack French, with additional info from Kevin Burton Smith.

Leave a Reply