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Christmas on the radio: "The Missing Mouse Matter" from Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar

Friday 12/8/23

Between now and Christmas I thought I'd try and highlight some individual radio programs that one might happily partake of on their own or with the family. There's so much vintage Christmas radio out there to be experienced that can be so enjoyable right now.

I've written and talked much about the five-part episodes of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, which are up there with Gunsmoke and Quiet, Please as the best radio programs ever produced in this country. People like to say that jazz is America's only indigenous art form, but what often gets overlooked is the quality and invention of mid-century American radio.

In this list of the five best episodes of Johnny Dollar, one will find a Christmas five-parter that I listen to every holiday season--and not just at the holiday season--but for this entry I wanted to call attention to the single-part, half hour episode, "The Missing Mouse Matter" from December 23, 1956.

It's charming and cute but also funny in a smart way. You won't get anything cloying with Johnny Dollar. Bob Bailey is in the role that he made his own--he's to this character as Alastair Sim is to Scrooge--and this is an episode that has grown on me more and more over the years, and I always liked it to start.

The two older guys--as they test Dollar's faith regarding a mouse that supposedly sings--work really well together. One of them is Howard McNear, who played this particular character a number of times on Johnny Dollar and was, of course, Doc on the radio version of Gunsmoke.

This is a very hard episode not to like. Three festive cheers for Gulliver, I say.


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