Vintage Radio

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
Vintage Radio: Detective Drama

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar was a long-running detective drama broadcast from 1949 to 1962 on CBS Radio. Johnny Dollar was a freelance insurance investigator "with the action-packed expense account." The progression of the show was distinguished by the actors who played Johnny Dollar. The first Johnny Dollar was played by Dick Powell, who after the first audition, withdrew from the project. The role went to Charles Russell and then Edmond O'Brien and later John Lund. In 1955, the program changed from a 30-minute, one-episode-per-week to a 15-minute, five-nights-a-week serial. The lead man was taken by Bob Bailey. This allowed more character development, details in the plot, and more suspense to the listener. There were 811 episodes in the 12-year run, and more than 720 still exist today. The show marked the peak and the best of the radio era, and Johnny Dollar portrayed by Bob Bailey was perhaps the most beloved investigator to many radio fans.

Each story starts with an urgent phone call picked by Johnny Dollar. Each episode is recounted in flashback, as Johnny Dollar lists each line item from his expense account. Most of the items are for transportation and lodging. However, no incidental expense is too small for Johnny to itemize, such as in "Item nine, 10 cents. Aspirin. I needed them."

Johnny usually sticks to business, but once in a while would engage in romantic dalliances with women he encounters during his investigation. Later episodes feature Johnny with a steady girlfriend, Betty Lewis. The story generally ends with Johnny tallying up his account, making final remarks on the case, and traveling back to Hartford, Connecticut, where he resides.

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