In an earlier post I spoke of Dean Martin as the greatest
television performer of all time. Partly I ascribed this to
the passing of the live television in which the performer
was in control of the moment. No one else would ever
have the opportunity, across the spectrum of acting and
hosting that Martin had, to excel again.
So it's no surprise that the greatest actor in television's
post-live era - or the great majority of its life - also
produced the show he was on. The producer rules in
recorded television, and only actors who produce - or
with the celebrity to make them virtual producers -
have much voice in television.
The greatest actor in the actor-producer combo is Jack
Webb. Many find his political beliefs abhorrent, but
his absolute belief in them give his acting an authority
that needs no acting to make him real. In the words
of the greatest film director of all time (Robert Bresson),
he is not so much natural as nature itself.
It's impossible to watch the following short clip with
an open eye, ear and mind and not realize Jack Webb's
overwhelming truthfulness to his own nature.