Richard Diamond, Private Detective

I quickly finished listening to the extant programs of the Philip Marlowe old-time radio program and moved on to Richard Diamond, Private Detective which I can only characterize as bizarre. The program starred Dick Powell.

As you may recall Dick Powell had two distinct screen personae. One was the happy-go-lucky song and dance man of 1930s Busby Berkeley movies, e.g. 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933, but, unrecognized by many, Powell also turned in on of the very best portrayals of Philip Marlowe in the 1944 move, Murder, My Sweet.

Well, Richard Diamond had Powell giving us both of them. In the first 25 minutes of the program he’s the toughest of hard-boiled detectives in rough, even gruesome stories, sometimes verging into Mickey Spillane territory. Then in the last five minutes he goes over to his girlfriend’s, Helen Asher’s, apartment. Helen, played by the incomparable Virginia Gregg, presses him to sing and he does, usually a popular song from the 1920s or 1930s. The effect is a bit jarring.

There weren’t a lot of radio programs that translated successfully to television. The Benny program, Our Miss Brooks, Gunsmoke, a handful of others. Richard Diamond was one of them, running on television from 1957 to 1960, with David Janssen as Diamond and featuring, in its third season, the 22 year old Mary Tyler Moore as Sam AKA “Legs” (you only heard her voice and saw her legs or glimpses of her lips). Diamond on television bore little resemblance to the radio program.

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