Monday, April 4, 2011

The man with the action-packed expense account (no, it isn’t me)…

Because there were so many private eyes and detectives solving cases during Radio’s Golden Age it’s not surprising that a lot of them got lost in the shuffle—only a few gumshoes really stand out (Sam Spade, Richard Diamond, etc.) and that’s mostly because many of them hailed from other media like mystery novels or comic strips (Nero Wolfe, Philo Vance, Dick Tracy, etc.)  The titular investigator of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar is remembered primarily because along with “radio’s outstanding theater of thrills,” Suspense, the program’s final broadcast brought a close to the Golden Age of Radio on September 30, 1962.

Anyone who’s ever listened to Johnny Dollar in its early years (when the title character was played by the likes of Charles Russell, Edmond O’Brien or John Lund) may have wondered what the fuss was all about but the fact is that the program really didn’t reach its creative peak until 1955.  Beginning on October 3 of that year, the program changed formats from a weekly half-hour to five-day-a-week quarter hours and recast “America’s fabulous freelance investigator” with actor Bob Bailey, an old-time radio veteran whose previous gig had been playing shamus George Valentine on an underrated crime drama for Mutual Radio, Let George Do It.

OTR historian John Dunning once opined that “Johnny Dollar” was the part Bailey was born to play—and as good as he was, he was aided immeasurably by the format change because it gave the show’s writers (veteran scribes like Les Crutchfield, Robert Ryf and producer Jack Johnstone) the opportunity to flesh out characters and develop good, meaty plots (well, they were in essence writing a seventy-five minute show on a weekly basis).  Over the course of fifty-five serialized stories (the quarter-hours came to an end on November 2. 1956 and the show returned to its original half-hour status on November 11) the reputation of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar was established for presenting some of the best radio drama ever broadcast; Radio Spirits has released ten of these adventures (a total of fifty episodes on ten CDs) in a collection entitled Confidential…and the kind souls at RS have graciously sent me a pair of these sets to give to two lucky TDOY readers.

All you have to do is float me an e-mail with “Johnny Dollar Confidential” in the subject header at igsjrotr(at)gmail(dot)com and I’ll enter your name in a drawing that will bestow upon each of the two lucky winners a copy of this 10-CD set (a $39.98's that for an item on your expense account?).  In the body of the e-mail all you need to do is jot down something like “I want it!” or something else if you’re fiendishly clever, and it’s not necessary to send me your snail mail in the entry until you’re certain you’re one of the winners.  The deadline for entries will be Monday, April 11 at 11:59pm EDT and the next morning I’ll select the winners (to be chosen by the ol’ reliable random number generator at and hopefully (knock wood) will get the prizes mailed that Wednesday morning Mater and I go on our weekly grocery run.  If you’ve already won a prize here within the past thirty days you might want to sit this one out to allow someone else a chance (though I’m certainly not going to try and stop you) and I should also probably warn you that on the chance you do win, I will reveal your identity for blog exploitation purposes (so if you have to give me a pseudonym, that’s copacetic with me).  Thrilling Days of Yesteryear—where the winning tradition continues!

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Operator_99 said...

One of my favorite shows, and I remember listening to it from the back seat of my parent's car. I have every episode and they are still fun to listen to.

VP81955 said...

I've discovered "Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar" through its appearance kicking off each week of Ed Walker's "The Big Broadcast" Sunday nights on WAMU-FM in Washington (followed by "Dragnet" and "Gunsmoke," all classics of the genre). "Dollar" was a lot of fun, although it was weird that in the final years of the series, Johnny's character was publicly known on the show for his show.

Megan said...

Bob Bailey as Johnny Dollar is my all-time favorite!