Detective Mystery programs were some of the most popular shows on radio in the 1930's, 40's and 50's. Tough talking investigators to master detectives these shows left audiences guessing and always trying to solve the case before the hero's did. Here's my list of the very best Detectives of the golden age....
10) Lamont Cranston on The Shadow-Technically not a Detective series but Lamont Cranston solved most of the mystery through detective work and use his "special powers to cloud men's minds" to close the case.
9) Barry Craig on Barry Craig, Confidential Investigator- William Gargan starred as "Confidential Investagator" different from "Private Investigator" in the cases he chose to take...The show held together on the strength of Gargan performance.
8) Sherlock Holmes on Sherlock Holmes- The classic stories from Conan Doyle were brought to radio and have stayed until today in many different forms and with almost every famous English actor taking a swing at the role. The stories always told through the eyes of Dr. Watson with Holmes solving the impossible cases over and over again.
7) Pat Novak on Pat Novak for Hire- Jack Webbs performance is the backbone of this hard-edge detective series. The show had simple detective cases but was made famous for the great one-liners Webb's Novak got to say dozens of times each episode.
6) Randy Stone on Nightbeat- Frank Lovejoy starred as Randy Stone newspaper reporter and master sleuth who solved the crime and got his story both. Lovejoy is great and holds the series together.
5) Simon Templar on The Saint- Vincent Price is marvelous as Simon Templar much like Pat Novak and Richard Diamond, the show was held together with strong performance and great detective lingo.
4) Sam Spade on Adventures of Sam Spade- Howard Duff starred as the man for hire, Sam Spade based on the character from Maltese Falcon; a simple detective show with a hard as nails character; the show was powered by a great performance from Duff and strong direction and writing.
3) Phillip Marlow on Adventures of Phillip Marlow-One of the most popular detective series of it's time Marlow was played by Gerald Mohr and he made the most of a great voice and strong detective story writing. Marlow is consider as one of radio great detective characters.
2) Richard Diamond on Richard Diamond Private Eye- This show is simply charming and so is Dick Powell's performance. "Song and Dance" man of 1930's movie musicals Powell was an unlikely candidate to play Diamond put it was his great performance combined with his musical talents that made this show so good. Powell is smart, clever, funny, romantic and all together wonderful. Great supporting performances too!
1) Johnny Dollar on Yours Truly Johnny Dollar- Long running with multiple stars Johnny Dollar was at it's very best (Possibly one of the best series of all time!!) when Bob Bailey took over playing the "America's fabulous freelance insurance investigator" in the 1950's well written and directed, Bailey gave Dollar a soul but kept the character smart and believable. I like both the 15 minute serial years and the 30 minute weekly shows.
Here is one whole week of the 15 minute shows... Listen and see why many consider this one of the best series of the golden age of radio!!!