This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.
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Paying (the voice of) Johnny Dollar
by Stewart Wright © 2016
(From Radio Recall, June, 2016)
During a Spring, 2013 research trip, a West Coast archivist showed me several hundred uncatalogued CBS Radio internal memos. Most of these memos were regarding payrolls for specific episodes of various series including Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. I spent several hours going through these memos during two research trips.
Among these CBS Radio Payroll Memos were copies of those dealing with nearly all of the fifty-five multi-part Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar shows of the October 03, 1955 through November 02, 1956 run. These memos provided information on how much certain cast and crew members received for their work on the series during this time frame. In this article, I am focusing on what the lead actor, Bob Bailey was paid.
There were two rates at which a lead actor could be paid: sustaining and sponsored. A sustaining show was an unsponsored show for which the network paid for all show costs. Pay for actors on a 'sustainer" was lower. On a sponsored show, the provider(s) of good or services paid the production costs including the actors' salaries. Pay on a sponsored show was quite a bit more lucrative for the star(s).
For most of the 1955-56 multi-part episode run, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar was aired by CBS on a sustaining basis. Bob Bailey was paid a total of $300.00 for a 5-part "Matter" which was recorded during a single-day session. For the sustaining, six-part "The Kranesburg Matter" (aired August 24, 1956 through August 31, 1956), Bailey was paid $360.00. All six parts were recorded during a single-day session.
The sustaining, nine-part "The Phantom Chase Matter" (aired October 15, 1956 through October 19, 1956, October 22, 1956, and October 24, 1956 through October 26, 1956), was recorded in two day-long sessions. As this "Matter" was produced during two day-long recording sessions, Bailey was paid the sustaining rate for two complete multi-part shows, $300.00 for each recording session, for a total of $600.00.
Only seven of the 280 fifteen-minute Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar segments were sponsored. Remember those terrible commercials for the giant, inflatable animals and Santa Claus? For the fully sponsored, five part, "The Amy Bradshaw Matter," which aired on November 21, 1955 through November 25, 1955, Bailey was paid $500.00. For the partially sponsored "The Henderson Matter," which aired on November 28, 1955 through December 02, 1955, of which only the first two of the five parts were sponsored, Bailey was paid a total of $380.00 for the five part "Matter."
I will leave it to the readers to determine the total amount Bob Bailey received for his work in these multi-part Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar "Matters." With the information I have provided, it should not be too hard.
I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Klaudia Englund of the Special Collections Department at the Grant R. Brimhall Library in Thousand Oaks, CA, for bringing many Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar related CBS documents to my attention. These documents have shed much new light on one of the most enduring series of the Golden Age of Radio.