Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, March 14, 2019


Bob Bailey stars as insurance investigator Johnny dollar in this five-part episode.  Johnny meets Dan Valentine, an old-time bootlegger just released from prison, at a hotel in New Orleans.  Intrigued by the old man's stories, Johnny buys him dinner.  And that should have been that -- except the next day Valentine was found wounded with two bullets in him.  Valentine is quiet about what happened and Johnny 's curiosity is piqued.

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar first aired on CBS radio on February 18, 1948 and had the protagonist (played variously by Charles Russell, Edmond O'Brien, and John Lund -- with Dick Powell taking the lead on the audition tape only) was described as a freelance investigator from Hartford, Connecticut, often involved in insurance investigation.  After the September 19, 1954 episode the show went on a year's hiatus, only to come roaring back on October 3, 1955 with Bailey as the star.

Bailey brought a gritty, albeit all-to-human, face to the character.  Bailey's Johnny Dollar could make mistakes but he righted himself to come to the true solution to each case.  Bailey's Johnny Dollar presented a story arc a week, with five fifteen-minute episodes from Mondays through Fridays -- a format that allowed for deeper plot and characterization.  These episodes are considered some of the best in the series as well as some of the best radio detective episodes of all time.  There were fifty-three such five-part episodes, as well as one seven-part and one nine part episode.  On November 6, 1956, the show resumed a half-hour weekly format with Bailey still in the lead.  Bailey's last episode in the series was on November 27, 1960, after which production moved from Hollywood to New York City.

In New York Robert Readick took over the title role for twenty-eight episodes, followed by Mandel Kramer who played Johnny Dollar from June 18, 1961 to the show's close on Spetember 2, 1962.  Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar was the last of the old-time continuing radio detective shows.  An era closed. 

An attempt to bring the show to television with feature player Bill Bryant in the title role never went further than an unsold pilot*, and in 2003 Moonstone Books released a single graphic novel about the character (It had been planned for a series, but that just didn't work out).  Nonetheless, Johnny Dollar remains popular, with old episodes being replayed on various radio stations here and abroad.

Jack Johnstone was the producer/director of the Bob Bailey episodes .  Johnstone also wrote most of the scripts during this time.  "John Dawson" (a pen name for Jack Johnstone) wrote the script for "The Valentine Matter."  Betty Lou Gerson, Forrest Lewis, Marvin Miller, Jay Novello, Barney Phillips, and Will Wright co-star.


* Written and directed by Blake Edwards, who was one of the writers of the radio show.  Another noted writer was mystery author Stuart Palmer.

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