Richard Diamond

During Dick Powell’s lengthy career, he had many stages. From the 1930s to 1944, he was known as a skilled singer and comic actor. He landed the film role Philip Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet, he starred in the first true hard-boiled Private Eye show Rogue’s Gallery, and then he spent many years playing a variety of hard-boiled characters in Noir films. In many ways, Richard Diamond was a perfect marriage of the two halves of Powell’s performing career before the next stage of Powell’s career which saw him as a creative force behind programs such as the Zane Grey Theater.

The series was unusual in that there are many episodes which featured hard-boiled fisticuffs and gunfights. Then the series shifts to Richard Diamond showing up at his girlfriend Helen Asher’s (Virginia Gregg) to serenade her as he softly sings and plays the piano and the two banter back and forth. It’s an unusual series that only Powell could make work.

Diamond was a former NYPD detective who served in the O.S.S. during the war before returning home to start his own private agency. His rates are quite exorbitant at $100 a day plus expenses. Compare this to Philip Marlowe’s $25 a day. He enjoys a good relationship with Lt. Levinson of the Homicide Squad while being a bane to the existence of the slow-witted Sergeant Otis.

The series aired for eighty episodes over NBC, fifty-one were sustaining (without a sponsor) and twenty-nine were sponsored to Rexall. The series jumped to ABC and was sponsored by Camel Cigarettes for sixty-five weeks. The series returned to radio in an unusual way as CBS aired reruns of the show as a summer replacement in 1953, which was very unprecedented for the time.

The character of Richard Diamond returned in 1957 with less of the comedy as a half hour detective program starring David Janssen (The Fugitive). The new series lasted four seasons and also featured appearances by a young Mary Tyler Moore.

Star Biography:
Dick PowellDick Powell (1904-63): Dick Powell is one of the most distinct leading men in the world of Old Time Radio Detectives.  Powell began his career as a song and dance man and then shifted to serious drama with his lead role as Philip Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet. 

Powell would also come to radio as a sleuth on three other occasions in stand-alone shows. He played the lead in Rogue’s Gallery as a detective that was knocked silly and encountered Eugor, a character in his subconscious that would help him solve whatever case he was on.

He parlayed that into the role of Richard Diamond, a laid-back, singing detective. He also played the police officer foil for his then-wife Joan Blondell’s private investigator in Miss Pinkerton, Incorporated.

In television, Powell was a pioneer, his Four Star Productions turned out memorable programs such as The Four Star Playhouse, Richard Diamond Private Detective (with David Janssen in the lead), The Zane Grey Theater, Burke’s Law, and the Dick Powell Theater.

Powell died far too young as a result of making The Conqueror, a classically bad film that featured John Wayne as Genghis Khan. The film was shot downwind from a nuclear testing site. He developed cancer along with nearly half the cast and crew and half the population of nearby St. George, Utah.  Powell succumbed to cancer in 1963.

Episode Log:

Christmas Episodes Played Out of Order:

New episodes will be posted every Wednesday. Log source: The Digital Deli FTP