Richard Webb played Captain Midnight on TV

June 13, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- Richard Webb, known to millions o television viewers in the 1950s as Captain Midnight, pilot of the Silver Dart and leader of the Secret Squadron, is dead.

Mr. Webb, who had suffered a long, debilitating respiratory illness, shot himself Thursday night at his Los Angeles home, his wife, Florence, announced Friday. He was 77.

The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office said Mr. Webb left a note citing his failing health as reason for his suicide.

An estimated 6 million children and 10 million adults listened as Captain Midnight and his sidekick, Ichabod Mudd, waged "the struggle against evil men everywhere" with scientific gadgetry and derring-do. The program, which grew out of a radio version, ran on CBS from September 1954 to May 1956.

To join the Secret Squadron, fans had only to mail in a coupon from a jar of Ovaltine, the show's sponsor.

In 1986, the Smithsonian Institute's National Air and Space Museum sponsored a display of items from the program. Mr. Webb once said he donated his character's scarf, trousers, boots, belt, his own decoder pin, and "everything but the undershorts."

The series was syndicated under the title "Jet Jackson, Flying Commando" until 1958.

Mr. Webb, a native of Bloomington, Ill., appeared in more than 60 films and 260 television programs. He starred as Deputy Chief Don Jagger on the CBS series "Border Patrol" from 1958 to 1960.

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