Yours Truly Johnny Dollar Festival
Hello MPIR Fans & Friends,
You’re in for a real treat! The mystery stream is featuring a Yours Truly Johnny Dollar festival. Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar was a radio drama that aired on CBS Radio from February 18, 1949 to September 30, 1962. The first several seasons imagined protagonist Johnny Dollar as a standard private investigator drama. In 1955 after a yearlong hiatus, the series came back in its best-known incarnation with Bob Bailey starring in "the transcribed adventures of the man with the action-packed expense account — America's fabulous freelance insurance investigator."
As originally conceived, Johnny Dollar was a smart, tough, wisecracking detective who tossed silver-dollar tips to waiters and bellhops. Dick Powell starred in the audition show, recorded in 1948, but withdrew from the role in favor of other projects. The role went instead to Charles Russell.
With the first three actors to play Johnny Dollar radio actor Russell and movie tough-guy actors Edmond O'Brien and John Lund there was little to distinguish Johnny Dollar from other detective series at the time (Richard Diamond, Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade). While always a friend of the police, Johnny wasn't necessarily a stickler for the strictest interpretation of the law. He was willing to let some things slide to satisfy his own sense of justice, as long as the interests of his employer were also protected. The series ended in September 1954.
CBS Radio revived Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar in October 1955 with a new leading man, a new director, and a new format. The program changed from a 30-minute, one-episode-per-week affair to a 15-minute, five-nights-a-week serial (Monday through Friday, 8-8:15pm EST) produced and directed by radio veteran Jack Johnstone. The new Johnny Dollar was Bob Bailey, who had just come off another network detective series, Let George Do It. With a new lead and 75 minutes of air time each week, it became possible to develop each storyline with more detail and with more characters.
Bob Bailey was exceptionally good in this format, making Johnny more sensitive and thoughtful in addition to his other attributes. Vintage-radio enthusiasts often endorse Bailey as the best of the Johnny Dollars, and consider the 13-month run of five-part stories to be some of the greatest drama in radio history. I have included five separate stories from the five-part series edited together!
In late 1956, CBS Radio retooled the show, which reverted to a weekly half-hour drama, airing onlate Sunday afternoons. Bob Bailey continued in the leading role until 1960.
The final episodes of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense, airing on CBS, are often cited as the end of the golden age of radio. The last episode of Johnny Dollar, "The Tip-Off Matter", ended at 6:35 p.m. Eastern Time on September 30, 1962, followed immediately by the final broadcast of Suspense.
Listen closely to hear the various actors that play the lead Johnny Dollar, and included in the playlists are episodes from the various broadcast periods of the series. To round out your weekend listening pleasure are mixed episodes of The Adventures of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, The Saint starring Vincent Price, and Nick Carter Master Detective.