Here is my list of the 5 Best Detectives of the Golden Age of Radio...
“America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator” started a long run 1949 on CBS starring Charles Russell as Dollar Edmund O’Brien, John Lund, Gerald Mohr, Bob Bailey, Bob Readick and finally Mandel Kramer would all play the “man with the action-packed expense account”. The show played until 1962 and with Suspense was the last shows from golden era. The Bob Bailey/Jack Johnstone era was considered it’s best run the show went from weekly 30-minute show to a 75-minute broken into daily 15-minute serial episodes. Bailey played Dollar less like a gumshoe Detective but more like true investigator. The most unique part of the show was the listing of expenses incurred during the investigation which made it unique to other shows of its kind.
Created by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Homes was pretty much the most perfect character to transition from novels to radio. Homes tended to explain things a lot talking to his friend Doctor Watson which pretty much how radio worked. Starting in 1935 and running until 1955 (though BBC would continue Sherlock radio stories for years and years to come) had many distinguished British actors but most famously Basil Rathbone as Homes and Nigel Bruce as Watson who played the characters in 16 movies. The series used the novels in the beginning but later ran out of stories so original plays were created. A format of Watson as narrator telling the thrilling exploits of his genius friend was adopted. Ever clever Homes was the intellectual Detective and always solved the mystery.
Starring movie star Alan Ladd Box 13 ran for a short time from 1948 to 1950, Ladd played Dan Holiday a retired newspaper reporter who was writing a novel he ran an ad reading “Adventure wanted-will go anywhere, do anything-Box 13”. This ad brought in all kinds of mystery and adventure. Ladd was a veteran radio actor and did a great job as Holiday. Less episodes then most on this list but all are top notch Detective stories.
Dick Powell was the perfect actor to play the wise cracking singing detective. Running from 1949 to 1953 (On NBC, ABC and CBS). Diamond was funny and less gritty as other detective shows of the era. Powell who was known for being song and dance man in movies brought the right flair to the character of very ex-cop. His relationship with girlfriend Helen Asher and Lt. Walt Levinson highlighted his sarcastic wit and made show less gritty and more lighthearted. The shows character was created by a young Blake Edwards (Pink Panther Movies) in first radio writing gig. Diamond often played the piano and sang each week which made the show different from other Detective series.
And #1 Detective show of old-time radio….
The Adventures of Philip Marlowe
Famously created by Raymond Chandler Phillip Marlowe ran on radio form 1947-1950 cast first by Van Heflin but famously switching to Gerald Mohr. Mohr was right actor for the role and his distinct voice was perfect for the character. The opposite from Richard Diamond this show was tough and hard-boiled detective, the lines ran like classic detective lingo. “Listen good” and “Get this straight Mister” this was an action show and Marlowe was a tough guy through and through. This was Detective story telling at radios very best!
Here is one of the very best shows for series!!!!
Let me know what do you think are these Top 5 is someone not on the list you think should be???
Give me your comments and look for future posts on LISTENING TO RADIO of other great detective shows!