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Great Beginnings: Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar December 22, 2006

Posted by William Spear in >> Great Beginnings, >> Radio Drama.
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From February 11, 1949 to September 30, 1962, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar aired on CBS. Dollar was a freelance insurance investigator who tossed silver dollar tips to bellhops and tight mysteries to his listeners.

Johnny Dollar was played by Dick Powell, Charles Russell, Edmond O’Brien, John Lund, Gerald Mohr, Bob Bailey, Bob Readick, and Mandel Kramer. The character worked mostly for Universal Adjustment Bureau and traveled to different locales for each story.

Each episode began dramatically, without fanfare, and set the tone for the taut writing and acting.

ANNOUNCER: (COLD) From Hollywood, it’s time now for Bob Bailey as …

SFX: BITE CUE: TELEPHONE RINGS ONCE. DOLLAR PICKS UP TELEPHONE.

DOLLAR: Johnny Dollar.

MUSIC: THEME UP AND ESTABLISH. QUICK FADE OUT.

ANNOUNCER: Tonight and every weekday night, Bob Bailey and the transcribed adventures of the man with the action-packed expense account. America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator …

DOLLAR: (BITE CUE) … Your Truly, Johnny Dollar.

MUSIC: THEME UP AND ESTABLISH.

The episodes ended only slightly more casually and relaxed. The day’s work was completed and Dollar was setting up the next segment.

MUSIC: THEME UP AND ESTABLISH. QUICK FADE OUT.

ANNOUNCER: Now, here’s our star to tell you about tomorrow’s intriguing episode of this week’s story.

JOHNNY: Tomorrow ? well, sometimes the best laid plans can take a terrible beating when a lovely girl steps into the picture. Join us, won’t you? Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.

MUSIC: THEME UP AND ESTABLISH. QUICK FADE OUT.

ANNOUNCER: Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, starring Bob Bailey, is transcribed in Hollywood. It is produced and directed by Jack Johnstone, who also wrote tonight’s story. Be sure to join us tomorrow night, same time and station, for the next exciting episode of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. Roy Rowan speaking.

MUSIC: THEME UP AND ESTABLISH. FADE OUT.

Johnny Dollar came along in the earliest days of television. Whether by design or circumstances, television had some measure of influence on the series. The theme music, from 1955 and on, was Love Theme No. 1, from the MUTEL music service library. Dramatic and commanding, it sounds like scoring which would appear later in television police and detective programs.

The final episodes of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense mark the end of Radio’s Golden Era. When the last episode of Johnny Dollar aired on September 30, 1962 there would be no new network radio drama until CBS Radio Mystery Theater went on the air January 6, 1974.

Bob Bailey and the other actors continue to make insurance investigation a daring and action-filled career. Wonder who’s hiring?

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