Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
"the man with the action-packed expense account...America's fabulous freelance insurance investigator." And if we still weren't sure, he always told us himself: "Yours truly, Johnny Dollar."
Johnny Dollar was a high-powered insurance investigator who worked chiefly for the Universal Adjustment Bureau, a clearinghouse for the many insurance companies. "The man with the action-packed expense account." He was always ready to fly to far reaches of the country to get to the bottom of insurance fraud - stolen diamonds, furs, art. He investigated arson and played bodyguard for highly insured clients. He generally ran into danger and often murder. His trademark was tossing silver dollars as tips to busboys and bellhops.
The early episodes tended to be flat and the character of Dollar was too dry. Johnny Dollar was too much the wiseacre, always ready with a flip phrase. At the start of the 1950 season veteran film actor Edmund O'Brien stepped in as the second Johnny Dollar. During the O'Brien programs improved with scripts by expert crime writers such as E. Jack Neumann, John Michael Hayes, Sidney Marshall and Blake Edwards. The character became the stereotypical American detective of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. When O'Brien left in 1952 and John Lund became Dollar number three the typical private dick remained.
When Bill Bailey became Johnny Dollar in 1955, the series bloomed. It became a 5-day-a-week, 15 minute program with a new producer-director Jack Johnstone. The scripts developed Dollar's character and the plots. Dollar became the bright yet gritty street wise detective with a conscience. Strong casts with many veteran radio actors and excellent directing led to more realistic stories. The sound effects, acting and stories led to some of the best and most exciting adventure and mystery.
But a daily show, even if recorded (transcribed) weekly was a lot of work and at the end of 1956 it reverted to a 30 minute, once a week show. At the end of the 1950s the show was sounding tired.
Bailey let the show when it moved to New
York and was replaced by Bob Readick for six months. In 1961 Mandel Kramer
became Johnny Dollar showing more cynical humour than Bailey's Dollar.
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