Dragnet debuted inauspiciously. The first several months were bumpy, as Webb and company worked out the program's format and eventually became comfortable with their characters (Friday was originally portrayed as more brash and forceful than his later usually relaxed demeanor). Gradually, Friday's deadpan, fast-talking persona emerged, described by John Dunning as a cop's cop, tough but not hard, conservative but caring. (Dunning, 210) Friday's first partner was Sergeant Ben Romero, portrayed by Barton Yarborough, a longtime radio actor. After Yarborough's death in 1951 (and therefore Romero's, who also died of a heart attack, as acknowledged on the December 27, 1951 episode The Big Sorrow), Friday was partnered with Sergeant Ed Jacobs (December 27, 1951 - April 10, 1952, subsequently transferred to the Police Academy as an instructor), played by Barney Phillips; Officer Bill Lockwood (Ben Romero's nephew, April 17, 1952 - May 8, 1952), played by Martin Milner (with Ken Peters taking the role for the June 12, 1952 episode The Big Donation); and finally Frank Smith, played first by Herb Ellis (1952), then Ben Alexander (September 21, 1952-1959). Raymond Burr was on board to play the Chief of Detectives. When Dragnet hit its stride, it became one of radio's top-rated shows.