Johnny Dollar Let George Do It

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.

38 replies on “Let Yours Truly, Bob Bailey, Do It : Bob Bailey Old Time Radio Actor”

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

When I was a little girl the radio was in the kitchen and I remember the voice of Bob Bailey as Johnny Dollar. About a year and a half ago I started listening to satellite radio and I foud it again. It is no wonder that I remember that show. The writing is amazing and Bob Bailey is terrific! I plan my errands around when the show will be on channel 82. Love this show!

Omg, I just recently found Johnny Dollar and I love it! I have Sirius XM in the car and was always missing either the beginning or the end of the show because I had to leave. I recently got internet radio just to listen to Radio Classics so I could hear Johnny Dollar along with a couple of other programs. Too bad they didn’t make a tv series back in the 1950’s with Bob Bailey. Would have been even better.

I listened to johnny dollar as a kid…. now, 60 yrs later enjoy bob bailey as much as I did then””

When it comes to Johnny Dollar there is only one….Bob Bailey from my Hometown of Toledo,Ohio!!! Thanks Bob!!!

Became a fan when Sirus radio became a rider in my BIG truck. What a truly great radio voice and talented actor. The five episode series were the best and I still enjoy listening to them. God Bless you Mr. Bailey.

I recall listening to Bob Bailey as Johnny Dollar. I was intrigued by the show and the production music. It took me many years to discover the opening and closing theme and the incidental production cues in the show were from the Capitol Q library.

Like one of the previous bloggers….I would love to see Johnny Dollar as a TV series. Bob Bailey was head and shoulders above the other JD’s on the show. I am so sorry there are no more episodes. I’ve listened to all of them.

I love the Johnny Dollar radio series –with Bob Bailey. My all-time favorite is The Indestructible Mike Matter with a close second – The Clinton Matter. I thought about getting Sirius Radio for home – however I found a site that has all of the Johnny Dollar series in which I listen to everyday. Bob Bailey was excellent in his role.

to me you’re the best Johnny dollar and I like his other show. Tooo bad his life ended like that….Great radio voice.

Best radio voice of all! Heard someone else play the role of Johnny Dollar, but he wasn’t nearly as good as Bob Bailey. It’s good to know that so many people are coming to appreciate Bob’s talent. It’s like a great painter or writer who doesn’t receive recognition until after his death. I hope his family supported him during his final years. Reminds me of how “It’s a Wonderful Life” didn’t became an icon until 50 years after it was made after the director and the main actors were all gone.

“Yours Truly Johnny Dollar” is my favorite old time radio show, and of all the actors to portray Johnny, Bob was always my favorite. It was a good show with excellent stories and music, but Bob’s talent made it great. Thanks for the memories, Bob. You are the best.

I’ve been a fan of old Radio for years, my all time favorite is Johnny Dollar and the total best is by Bill Bailey. I would like to purchase his entire series but have not found it packaged as such. Anyone having knowledge where it could be obtained, please share with all of us. Would be most appreciated.

Johnny Dollar played by Bob Bailey is one series I look forward to on XM radio! Just love it!

how nice to have somewhere we radioheads can gather! i LOVE johnny dollar with bob bailey. i always did love radio far more than TV, for the most part. it would seem that in these days of such easy-breezy access to “air waves,” via uploading/downloading, someone would invent a way for those of us craving radio stardom to band together with a new set of mystery shows. i have no tech expertise, but would think a program like SKYPE would allow us to interact. we’d just need a soundman (whoops — soundperson) to throw whatever effects were needed into the mix, and finally edit/prep for “broadcast.” i welcome any feedback at all. wouldn’t it be great to carry on bob bailey’s tradition?

By far the greatest of all Old Time Radio voices and characters, Bob Bailey WAS Johnny Dollar, the Man with the Action Packed Expense Account. Do yourself a favor and listen to Bailey. The personification of Old Time Radio.

Bob Bailey is the definitive Johnny Dollar. The scripts were excellent and the quality of the cast outstanding. Tony Randall made the comment in his book that radio acting wasn’t real acting. I am reminded of that statement every time I listen to YTJD and think how wrong he was……………

I absolutely worship you Mr. Bob Bailey, you’ve been my co-pilot for years. Yours Truly. Tim Melton.

My husband and I drive an 18 wheeler. We love listening to Bob Bailey as Johnny Dollar and Let George Do It. Helps to knock down the miles.

I’m sure Bob Bailey never imagined in 1956 that his acting and voice would be so beloved by thousands in the year 2016.

I discovered classic radio a few years ago. Bob Baily and “Johnny Dollar” are far and above the best of classic radio. I feel like a kid again listening to the adventures of Johnny Dollar. Thank you so much for the memories.

Just went on a road trip with my 18 year old son…who now wants the Bob Bailey Johnny Dollar boxed set!

Great shows, they take me back to the Era and make me forget the problems of the day

I remember in the mid 50’s to the early 60’s listing to Suspense and Johnny Dollar on my bedside radio.We had TV then but always looked forward to Sunday night to listen to Johnny Dollar solve another suspicious insurance claim.Listen now on XM.

I grew up listening to “Johnny Dollar” with Bob Bailey…… Now, at 73, I like to listen to him again as the action-packed insurance investigator takes me back to the days of nostalgia….. Bob Bailey was th every best!

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