Charles Russell as Johnny Dollar
Edmund O'Brien as Johnny Dollar
John Lund as Johnny Dollar, sponsored by Wrigley's Gum
Listen to the beginning of Bob Bailey's first show as Johnny Dollar
The ending of the episode
Bob Readick as Johnny Dollar
Mandell Kramer as Johnny Dollar
Other than Mystery and Drama, the Detective genre had the best shows, especially Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. Johnny Dollar was an independent insurance adjuster cracking cases for 14 years. An audition show was produced on December 8, 1948 starring Dick Powell. On February 11, 1949, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, hit the airwaves with Charles Russell in the title role. He played the role through January 14, 1950. On February 3, 1950, Edmund O'Brien takes the part of Johnny Dollar and played the part until September 3, 1952. John Lund assumed the role of Johnny Dollar from November 1952 until September 1954. These first three actors, Charles Russell, Edmond O'Brien, and John Lund did not make Johnny Dollar anything better than the typical "hard boiled" "tough-guy" detective. The show was just another run-of-the-mill detective show until Bob Bailey's portrayal of the insurance investigator.
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There was apparently another audition show produced on August 29, 1955, with Gerald Mohr starring as Johnny Dollar, but this show was never aired.
Starting on October 3, 1955 the program changed to a serial format with a 15-minute show airing each weeknight and a new actor playing the role; his name was Bob Bailey. He could be a tough guy when needed but was also a thinking man. These fantastic serials, of which there are 55 five-part stories (actually, of the 55 shows one is seven-part show and another is a nine-part show), only last about a year before the show reverted to the 30-minute format. Bailey stayed with the show through the 1960 season ending November 27, 1960. Although the show no longer had the time to develop the guest characters as well as was done during the 75-minute serials, the audience knew Bailey's Dollar very well from the year of serials.
Bob Readick took over as Dollar with his first episode airing on December 4, 1960. His last show was June 18, 1961. Readick was replaced with Mandell Kramer. Kramer's first episode aired on June 25, 1961 and he stayed with the show until its cancellation and last episode, "The Tip-Off Matter", on September 30, 1962 (This is also the same date for the last episode of Suspense). Kramer's Dollar was okay but Bailey's 75-minute serial episodes are simply the best.
An interesting side note is that Johnny Dollar did not have a partner or "side kick". In the later episodes, he gets a girlfriend who had a recurring role.
For most of its time on the air, the program was "sustained" by the C.B.S. Radio network, meaning it had no sponsor and the network paid the bills. In 1950, the program was sponsored by Wrigley's Gum. The company would also sponsor the program from March 1953 to August 1954.