The hard-boiled detective programs which were so popular during the post-War years were great entertainment but like the pulp fiction that they were derived from, they were not always "high-brow" material. The shows were relatively cheap to produce and attracted a loyal audience, so they didn't need a great deal of polish to attract a sponsor and become profitable.
Not all of the era's detective programs were so crass, a few embodied the best traditions of both legitimate and radio drama. Which is not to say they were high-brow literary masterworks, but in many cases they were highly original and well-produced entertainment.
When the program first came on the air in 1949, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar was just another show in the long list of private-eye genre, albeit with an original "hook". While other hard-boiled detectives usually did their work in the same big city, sometimes moving between the stuffy upper-crust and the seamy underbelly of society, Johnny Dollar got around. During his long run, he visited 39 different states and 24 foreign countries. A hard-boiled detective would attract the attention of several "dames", but he usually had the devotion of a special girl, usually a secretary, back in the office to smooth his rough edges and provide some comic relief. Johnny Dollar was attractive to and attracted by more than a few pretty girls in his travel, but back home there were just the profit-minded functionaries of the insurance companies that hired him. The insurance industry was the backbone of Johnny Dollar's hook.
The fiduciary tables and regimented decisions of insurance adjusters hardly seem like the stuff of romantic adventure, but that is just what Johnny Dollar's writers managed to create. Of course, the insurance business centered around Hartford, Connecticut, is also one of the most highly capitalized industries in the nation, and that much money is bound to attract a few crooks.
The evolution of the Johnny Dollar program is familiar to most OTR fans. After five successful seasons and being played by four different actors, Johnny Dollar went off the air for more than a year after the 1954 season. During the hiatus, the show was retooled from a weekly half-hour format to a series of 15-minute five-episode serials. Gerald Mohr was called in to play the part in an audition program for the new format, but he went on to play Philip Marlowe. When the serialized episodes came on the air, Dollar was played by veteran Radio-Row actor Bob Bailey. Bailey is widely considered by fans to be "the best Johnny Dollar".
The quarter-hour daily format allowed the writers to create more intricate stories as well as giving time to further develop characters, not only the guests who came and went with each new serial but Johnny Dollar himself.
One of the most interesting series aired during the week of September 6, 1956, "The Confidential Matter", episodes 472 to 476, featuring Bob Miller. One of the interesting elements of the series is that it takes a closer look at the lives of people working in the insurance industry besides that of our heroic investigator. A veteran adjuster and good friend of Johnny's has died due to an auto accident near San Francisco. Johnny gets called in when evidence surfaces that Johnny's friend has embezzled $80,000 in company funds before his passing. Dollar reluctantly flies to the west coast where he discovers that not only had his friend been living above his means, he had been keeping company with a beautiful young widow whose husband had also suffered a fatal accident.
The widow has disappeared, but Johnny soon tracks her to Panama where she is apparently in hiding. He also discovers that the adjuster has faked his death and is hiding in the tropical country as well!
What would have made Johnny Dollar's trusted friend betray the trust of his company and clients? Who is this mysterious widow and could she actually be a "black widow"? and most importantly, will the items on Johnny's "action-packed expense account" all be approved? Listen to "The Confidential Matter" to find out!
Bob Miller Collection: Episodes 472 to 476 of Yours Truly Johnny Dollar are "The Confidential Matter" featuring Bob Miller. Click here to read more about Bob Miller
This actor appeared in the following radio shows
|yours truly johnny dollar||the confidential matter ep01of05||1956-09-10|
|yours truly johnny dollar||the confidential matter ep02of05||1956-09-11|
|yours truly johnny dollar||the confidential matter ep03of05||1956-09-12|
|yours truly johnny dollar||the confidential matter ep04of05||1956-09-13|
|yours truly johnny dollar||the confidential matter ep05of05||1956-09-14|