Let Yours Truly, Bob Bailey, Do It : Bob Bailey Old Time Radio Actor


Bob Bailey
was “born in a theater trunk” in Toledo, Ohio, to traveling-performer parents. Bob first hit the stage at the age of six. He began performing on the radio in Chicago, which was a hub of network production during the prewar years. Bailey appeared in a number of anthology productions originating from WGN and WMAQ, and worked on several of Arch Oboler‘s productions.

Bailey reached the West Coast soon after the WWII broke out. There was a shortage of male-talent because of the War, and Bob landed a standard one year contract with Twentieth Century Fox. He would appear in seven films for Fox. Of medium height and rather skinny, as far as the movies were concerned, Bob Bailey had a face for radio.

Fortunately for his career, he also had a voice for radio. Hollywood was gaining prominence as the center of radio production. ¬†Perhaps capitalizing on his Chicago connections, Bailey found occasional work on Oboler’s Everything For The Boys, Treasury Star Parade, Lux Radio Theater, and Arch Oboler’s Plays. In 1946, the door to stardom opened for Bailey with the Don Lee/Mutual network production of Let George Do It.

In Let George Do It, George Valentine was a departure from the typical hard-boiled detective of the time. A detailed and believable back story had been built up through the first season; Valentine had been a GI during the war. While he was overseas there was plenty of time to consider what he wanted to do (or more likely, what he DIDN’T want to do) when he got home. He took out a personal ad in the local paper:

Do You Have a Job That Needs Doing?

Let George Do It!

Danger is my stock in trade.

If the job is too tough for you to handle

You’ve got a job for me,

George Valentine

Write FULL details

Conceived as more of a professional problem solver than a detective, the program began as almost a situation comedy before it evolved into a not-quite-hard-boiled detective drama. Valentine always displayed a degree of GI ingenuity and out of the box thinking. Let George Do It had many of the trappings of the Detective genre. He always had an eye for a pretty girl; much to the consternation of his secretary and sometimes love interest Claire Brooks (Brooksie), played by Virginia Gregg. Brooksie’s kid brother was an occasional character; Sonny was none other than Eddie Firestone Jr., and often turned up just when Valentine needed a hand or an obscure piece of information.

As part of the Don Lee Network, Let George Do It was a popular program, but little known in the East for its first five seasons. By that time Bailey was ready to move on, and he found an opportunity in the reformulated version of CBS’s Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.

Johnny Dollar had been a popular detective program for several years, with different actors in the lead role. Dollar was an insurance investigator with an “Action Packed Expense Account” beginning in 1949. His various cases took Johnny Dollar around the world in search of insurance fraud. By the end of the 1954 season, Johnny Dollar was little different from the rest of the detectives on the air. In order to breathe new life into the show, production was turned over to Jack Johnstone, who had previously produced Buck Rogers and The Adventures of Superman. One of Johnstone’s first moves was to change the format from a weekly half hour to a five days a week 15 minute show. The new format allowed for week-long story arcs and greater character and plot development.

This was a excellent fit for the thinking-man detective persona Bob Bailey developed on Let George Do It. Of all the actors to handle the Johnny Dollar role, Bailey is the fan favorite. Unfortunately, the daily format only lasted for thirteen months before returning to weekly episodes (Johnstone continued to contribute scripts). By this time, the writing was on the wall for Radio Drama. CBS moved production to New York as a cost cutting move in 1960, but Bailey chose to remain in Hollywood.

Bob BaileyBailey made a few television appearances, and began writing for TV (he wrote “The Carmen Kringle Matter” Christmas episode for Johnny Dollar’s 1957 season). He would battle with alcoholism for most of his remaining years. He began to make a recovery with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous when a massive heart attack left him partially paralyzed. He would spend most of the his remaining ten years in a convalescent home, renewing his relationships with friends and family.

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10 Responses to Let Yours Truly, Bob Bailey, Do It : Bob Bailey Old Time Radio Actor

  1. Terence Dillon says:

    According to a recorded Feb.1982 interview with Bailey’s daughter, Roberta Goodwin, the cause of his paralysis was not a massive heart attack, but was a stroke. He was at a convalescent home in Lancaster, California at that time and was doing relatively well. He would die about a year and a half later.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Love “Johnny Dollar” on old time radio. Excellent radio voice.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve listened to dozens Johnny Dollar episodes in my car. They’re so well done, and Bailey is so listenable, that I’ve been late for appointments because I had to wait in my car for the show’s climax.

  4. Lane says:

    I wished Bob Bailey would’ve made more movies.. Especailly some Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar movies. I love the radio programs though. It’s a necessary break from all the bad stuff in the news today.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Love listening to Johnny Dollar such a well done show what a great voice Bob Bailey had. He was the true JD!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    bob baily the best there ever was…

  7. Anonymous says:

    Bob Bailey was the best Johnny Dollar – I listened to a number of episodes on WBBM Radio in Chicago. I now have access to all of the episodes online, and I’m sad that I’m getting down to the end of the Bob Bailey era.

  8. tim best. says:

    im a long haul trucker,and enjoy each case Johnny gets into.it helps to take care of a lot of routine miles.thanks Johnny,and 10.4.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Listend to almost every episode with Bob Bailey in yours truly jonny dollar. I truly enjoyed his character and became a fan almost 50 years later! God bless you Bob.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thanks to “Radio Classics” my husband and I have discovered Bob Bailey and Johnny Dollar! What a joy to listen to and such an iconic journey into the 50′s! Too bad it hasn’t been resurrected to TV in a similar way to Mad Men! Thanks to all involved in creating a new audience for a classic radio gem! Maureen & Steve

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