On February 18th, 1949 – fifty years ago – one of the best loved radio detective series premiered over NBC starring Charles Russell as Johnny Dollar. Russell only lasted a year and the series took a different tone with the next Dollar actor – Edmund O’Brien. That was a much darker tone with the sullen O’Brien seeming to find himself involved with murder more often. After O’Brien left to a growing film career, another future film actor, John Lund, stepped into the role.
It was Lund’s successor who really expanded the popularity when radio actor Bob Bailey became Johnny Dollar fresh from his role as George Valentine in Let George Do It. Bailey stayed with the series until the early sixties when the series left Hollywood and moved back to New York.
You can hear more about the Johnny Dollar series in a podcast I did in Episode #68.