Alternate names: Barry Crane, Barrie Craig
Created by —
Barry Craig, Confidential Investigator is one of the few detective radio series that had separate versions of it broadcast from both coasts. Even the spelling changed over the years. It was first “Barry Crane” and then “Barrie Craig.” NBC produced it in New York from 1951 to 1954 and then moved it to Hollywood where it aired from 1954 to 1955. It attracted only occasional sponsors so it was usually a sustainer.
William Gargan, who also played the better known television (and radio) detective Martin Kane, was the voice of New York eye BARRY CRAIG while Ralph Bell portrayed his associate, Lt. Travis Rogers. Craig’s office was on Madison Avenue and his adventures were fairly standard PI fare. He worked alone, solved cases efficiently, and feared no man. As the promos went, he was “your man when you can’t go to the cops. Confidentiality a speciality.”
Like Sam Spade, Craig narrated his stories, in addition to being the leading character in this 30 minute show. Nearly sixty episodes are in trading circulation today.
A reader was kind enough to send us this plot synopsis of an episode. I certainly don’t intend to fill this site with details of every case every fictional P.I. ever had, but I think it will give you a good idea of what this show, and many other old-time radio detective shows, were like, and help newcomers eappreciate just how well-written and complex these stories often were (and remember, these shows were generally only 30 minutes long!).
I enjoy all your info, I thought I would include this little tidbit on one of the episodes.
Barry Craig — Confidential Investigator in “Death — The Hard Way,” starring William Gargan. Guest Stars: Patrick O’Neal, Eve Miller, Dan Tobin, Tol Avery. Directed by Blake Edwards.
Private eye Barry Craig (William Gargan) is hired by would-be public figure Peter Tilton (Dan Tobin) to pay off the debts owed by his wife (Eve Miller) to a casino, and he goes up against tough owner LaVerne Ellis (Tol Avery) to keep her out. When Mrs. Tilton and her cousin Paul Baker (Patrick O’Neal) turn up injured, their car run off the road, Tilton suspects that Ellis is responsible and is about to make a complaint to the state police and get him closed down, but Craig convinces him let the detective look into it.
But someone complains to the police, and Ellis is closed down and vows revenge on Tilton. When Tilton’s car is blown up with him in it, Ellis is the prime suspect, but Craig doesn’t believe it–he gets Ellis to confront Mrs. Tilton with a blackmail attempt, and gets her to admit the truth, that she and Baker, who are not cousins, set the whole thing up in an elaborate attempt to kill her husband and frame Ellis. Before Craig can get anyone to the police, however, Baker opens fire on them in the darkened casino. Best line–Craig tells a would be strong-arm man, “I’m a bad shot, but you’re a big boy.”
On William Gargan as a Detective (and an Actor)
If William Gargan brought an air of authenticity to his roles as a private detective, there were some good very reasons. His father was a bookmaker, so Gargan learned a lot about the gambling world and met a lot of interesting characters from across the spectrum of society. The main reason why Gargan was so convincing as a detective was that he was probably the only actor of his time who had actually been a private detective.
He first worked as a credit investigator and collection agent for a clothing firm. Once Gargan was shot at when he attempted to get a deadbeat customer to pay his overdue account.
Next, he worked for about a year as a private detective with a New York agency for “$10.00 a day and expenses.” Gargan did many of the usual detective jobs: guarding payrolls, tailing possible suspects, conducting stakeouts, and protecting clients with valuables. He was fired when he lost track of a diamond salesman he was supposed to be protecting.
As an actor, William Gargan had played Ellery Queen in three movies, before being cast as Kane. After he left Martin Kane, Gargan landed on his feet. He signed a million dollar, seven year contract with MCA for the radio show Barry Craig, Confidential Investigator on NBC. The final spelling used for his character’s first name, Barrie, was the same as that of Gargan’s oldest son. Gargan eventually got throat cancer, had a laryngectomy and campaigned vigourously (and rather ironically) against smoking for The American Cancer Society for the last twenty years of his life).
— Stewart Wright. For more on Gargan, see this excerpt from his autobiography.
- BARRY CRAIG, CONFIDENTIAL INVESTIGATOR
Approximately 190 30-minute episodes, broadcast weekly (58 episodes are available)
First Broadcast: October 3, 1951
Last Broadcast: June 30, 1955
Writers: Louis Vittes, John Roeburt
Directors: Himan Brown (New York); Arthur Jacobson and Andrew Love (Hollywood), Blake Edwards
StarringWilliam Gargan as BARRY CRAIG
with Ralph bell as Lieutenant Rogers
and John Gibson as The Bartender
Guest stars: Patrick O’Neal, Eve Miller, Dan Tobin, Tol Avery.
- “The Motive for Murder” (February 20, 1952 )
- “Blood Money” (August 24, 1954)
- “Hay is for Homicide” (August 31, 1954)
- “Ghosts Don’t Die in Bed” (September 7, 1954)
- “Death — The Hard Way”