Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: The Sea Legs Matter, Part One (CBS, 1956)
Tonight begins a classic enough further example as to why critics and fans of the long-running crime drama believe Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar was never better than in the year it was transformed into a weekly, five-part serial.
Wealthy Long Island sportsman Douglas Lanfair has died aboard the Sea Legs, his sumptuously-apportioned yacht, on which his widow (Virginia Gregg) has filed a lucrative insurance claim. But Dollar (Bob Bailey) learns the Sea Legs sinking wasn’t the first time Lanfair lost a boat, or recovered damages, after sailing through dangerous Central American currents.
Unfortunately, Dollar learns further that the widow seems just a little more interested in the yacht’s fate and the damages it merits than she seems stricken by her husband’s death.
First of five parts. Pat McCracken: Harry Bartell. Announcer: Roy Rowan. Music: Amerigo Moreno. Writer/director: Jack Johnstone.
FURTHER CHANNEL SURFING . . .
Bold Venture: The Voodoo Vendetta in Paradise; or, The Search for Tommy Reed (ZIV Syndication, 1951)—A killer (Betty Lou Gerson) cavorting with a disgraced physician (Len Barton) hires Slate (Humphrey Bogart) and Sailor (Lauren Bacall) to bury her murdered husband’s corpse at sea, then hits Sailor with a poison dart and invokes a Caribbean voodoo charm against her when they begin smelling some too-pungent facts. You can almost hear Bogie and Baby and even the murderers killing themselves to keep from laughing their way through this one. King: Jester Hairston. Native: Fuego. Additional cast: Unknown. Music: David Rose. Director: Henry Hayward. Writers: Morton Fine, David Friedkin.
Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network: Smelly Dave in Albany (Hmmmmm, 1959)—The great dead whale makes a tour appearance in the Empire State’s capital—or, does he?—with Arthur Shrank (Ray Goulding) reporting on the appearance at the state capitol building and comments from local radio manager George Perkins (Bob Elliott). Also, an episode of “Lawrence Fechtenberger, Interstellar Officer Candidate,” who remains in jail; and, Leslie Hoover’s new pet shop. Writers, if you wish: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.
The Whistler: Summer Thunder (CBS, 1945)—A contradictory pair of weather reports may factor in the net result of a dispute between a man pleased to be free from his uncle’s spectre and his wife, who thought he could reconcile to the uncle—who disinherited him when he married her. Cast: Unknown. The Whistler: Bill Forman. Announcer: Marvin Miller. Music: Wilbur Hatch. (Whistling: Dorothy Roberts.) Director: George W. Allen. Writer: Harold Swanton.
The Whistler: Borrowed Byline (CBS, 1947)—Six years too long in Calcutta, a disillusioned correspondent (Jack Moyles) jumps on a story with a lucrative side-action opportunity invovling Tibetan musk without telling his newspaper, a move that might mean financial security but might also mean the end of his newspaper career—and, his freedom. Additional cast: Ben Wright, Raymond Lawrence, Byron Kane. The Whistler: Bill Forman. Announcer: Marvin Miller. Music: Wilbur Hatch. (Whistling: Dorothy Roberts.) Director: George W. Allen. Writer: Joel Malone, Harold Swanton. (Note: May have been repeated at a later date.)
Suspense: You Can Die Laughing (CBS, 1961)—That could happen to businessman Herbert Willoughby (Ian Martin), who has a particularly juvenile taste for dumb humour and practical jokes, when he plans to jail his office manager Jack Holden (Larry Haines) for stealing from their company . . . which could expose Jack’s affair with Willoughby’s wife, Betty (Evelyn Juster), driving the pair to drastic measures that may backfire in an off-the-wall way. Jolly George: Lee Vines. Jean Rexford: Gertrude Warner. Bill Rexford: William Mason. Announcer: George Walsh. Music: Ethel Huber. Director: Bruno Zirato, Jr. Writer: Robert Arthur.
Gunsmoke: Tap Day for Kitty (CBS, 1955)—When some of the Long Branch girls have a little too much, too cruel sport at the expense of a somewhat scattered old man (John Dehner) looking for a new wife, the usually composed Kitty (Georgia Ellis) comes close enough to blows and impresses the old man the wrong way . . . but when the old man is shot, subsequently, Kitty can’t prove she was anywhere near the scene when it happened. Matt: William Conrad. Chester: Parley Baer. Doc: Howard McNear. Additional cast: Michael Ann Barrett, Virginia Gregg. Announcer: George Fenneman. Music: Rex Khoury. Sound: Tom Hanley, Bill James. Director: Norman Macdonnell. Writer: John Meston.
Tony Martin—Romantic crooner (b. Alvin Morris, San Francisco, 1913; d. West Los Angeles, 27 July 2012) in radio, film, television. Triggered by his early radio successes, Martin’s film career may have been compromised by his early taste for the ladies, at least until he married Alice Faye in the late 1930s. The couple eventually divorced (and Faye married Jack Benny sidekick and her future radio partner Phil Harris) after career conflicts and her larger film successes drove a wedge between them. Martin eventually re-married, to dance star Cyd Charisse; their marriage lasted six decades, until her death in 2008.
The singer survived a Navy scandal (he was accused wrongly of giving a car to a superior but discharged for unfitness) and switched to the Army successfully to serve in World War II. After the war, Martin reclaimed his career as a romantic singer on radio (he was once a feature on The Burns & Allen Show) and records, with several hits in the last of the pre-rock and roll years. He followed that with a long, successful career in clubs, ballrooms, and Las Vegas showrooms.
Martin and Charisse published a joint memoir, The Two of Us, in 1976. They had one son together; musician Tony Martin, Jr. died last year, at 60, following his own long illness. The elder Martin is survived by his stepson, Nico Charisse.