Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar

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Overview | Significance | Background | Plot | Cast | Resources | Episodes

Overview

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar (1949-1962) was a weekly OTR crime and detective series about a freelance insurance investigator with an action packed expense account. It is considered one of the best radio dramas, and was the last dramatic series offered on network radio.

Significance

Several actors played Johnny Dollar during the long run of this series. Bob Bailey is considered the best. Episodes #513-#716, 11 November 1956-27 November 1960, all starring Bailey, are often cited for bringing personality and insights to the character not achieved by others. Combined with the efforts of producer-director of Jack Johnstone. Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar became one of the high points of radio drama, and the last major network dramatic show before ending in 1962.

Background

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar was an OTR crime and detective series about the adventures of Johnny Dollar, "the man with the action packed expense account, America's fabulous freelance insurance investigator." Many of his cases came from Universal Adjustment Bureau, a clearing house for client companies. Others came from private clients who valued Dollar's keen, analytical mind and ability to take care of himself when the case got messy, which it often did. In all his endeavors, Dollar shamelessly padded his expense account. Dollar's narrative of his expense account provided the introduction to each episode.

Both crime and detective stories were popular Old Time Radio (OTR) genres from the 1940s-1950s. This popularity coincided with rising concerns for emerging criminal activities, especially organized crime, and containment efforts at all levels.

Yours truly, Johnny Dollar was first broadcast on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) as weekly thirty-minute episodes. On 3 October 1955, the format was changed to a fifteen-minute, 5-days a week series starring Bob Bailey. Each week allowed the narrative arc to be developed over five episodes. This continued until 2 November 1956.

On 11 November 1956, the series returned to a weekly, thirty-minute format, still starring Bob Bailey. This continued until 27 November 1960, when Bailey left the show. Mandel Kramer assumed the title roll for the 18 June 1961 episode, and continued until the last episode, 30 September 1962.

Plot

Each episode centers around Dollar preparing his expense account for the latest case. "Expense account, item one," he says, and then begins a narrative about his experiences. At the end of each case, expenses totaled, Dollar concludes by saying, "Yours truly, Johnny Dollar."

Cast

Charles Russell (Johnny Dollar, 18 February 1949-3 February 1950)
Edmund O'Brien (Johnny Dollar, February 1950-3 September 1952)
John Lund (Johnny Dollar, 24 November 1952-19 September 1954)
Bob Bailey (Johnny Dollar, 11 November 1956-27 November 1960)
Robert Readick (Johnny Dollar, 4 December 1960-11 June 1961)
Mandel Kramer (Johnny Dollar, 18 June 1961-30 September 1962)
Virginia Gregg (Betty Lewis and other female parts)
Jack Johnstone (Producer, director)

Resources

Your Truly, Johnny Dollar radio logs at Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs website
Plot summaries and credits at Radio Gold Index website
Episodes at Internet archive website

Episodes

Totals

Total episodes: 821
Surviving episodes: 720

Timeline

18 February 1949-30 September 1962
Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)

Inventory

Information and description for each episode of the series. Learn more.

Exemplary Episodes

The first and last three episodes starring Bob Bailey.

  • Episode 513

    The Big Scoop Matter
    Episode 513, 11 November 1956
    First episode for Bob Bailey. A crusading reporter is murdered before he can expose a national gambling syndicate. Bob Bailey, Virginia Gregg, Les Tremayne, Dan Cubberly (announcer), Russell Thorson, Barney Phillips, Stacy Harris, Larry Thor, Parley Baer (who played Chester Wesley Proudfoot on Gunsmoke).

  • Episode 514

    The Markham Matter
    Episode 514, 18 November 1956
    A man seems to be slowly poisoning his wife. Bob Bailey, Paula Winslowe, Roy Rowan (announcer), John Dehner, Frank Nelson, Lois Corbett, Virginia Gregg, Bert Holland.

  • Episode 515

    The Royal Street Matter
    Episode 515 25 November 1956
    A New Orleans antique shop has had a fire, but the owner refuses to file a claim! Why? Bob Bailey, Virginia Gregg, Forrest Lewis, Lou Merrill, Lawrence Dobkin, Frank Gerstle, Dan Cubberly (announcer).

  • Episode 714

    The Bad One Matter
    Episode 714 13 November 1960
    A juvenile delinquent down south knows the secret of a murder, but refuses to reveal it, and for a good reason! Bob Bailey, Lawrence Dobkin, James McCallion, Forrest Lewis, Russell Thorson, Sam Edwards, John Wald (announcer), Jack Johnstone (writer, producer, director).

  • Episode 715

    The Double Deal Matter
    Episode 715, 20 November 1960
    The story of "Mickey the Hood" and the famous "Canary Diamonds." What's The connection? Bob Bailey, Jack Johnstone (writer, producer, director), Barney Phillips, Paul Frees, John Wald (announcer), Virginia Gregg, Chester Stratton, Harry Bartell, Jackson Beck (Ex-Lax commercial).

  • Episode 716

    The Empty Threat Matter
    Episode 716, 27 November 1960
    The last episode for Bailey; The last show in Hollywood, California. Johnny returns from Tahiti with a nervous old man, who is sure that he's going to be murdered. Ben Wright, Bob Bailey, Carleton Young (who starred in Nick Carter, Master Detective (1943-1955), G. Stanley Jones, Harry Bartell, Ralph Moody, Virginia Gregg.