He was born Robert Bainter Bailey on June 13, 1913. His family was all about show business and he grew up around the theatrical community. He started off in radio during the 1930’s, working in the Chicago area. He had recurring roles in a few old time radio shows, such as, The Road Of Life, Scattergood Baines and That Brewster Boy.
In the early 1940’s, he tried his luck on the big screen in Hollywood and his first role was opposite Laurel and Hardy, in the movie, Jitterbugs. He was given another role in their next movie, The Dancing Masters, however, that role was not as big. He was uncomfortable in the comedic roles, so 20th Century Fox, started giving him roles as a dramatic actor instead. He did not have the looks and the appeal to be a matinee-idol or a Hollywood leading man, which limited the roles that he was offered. Frustrated, Bailey returned to radio.
His next role in radio was in the old time radio show, Let George Do It. Bob Bailey played the character, George Valentine from 1946 to 1954, when Olan Soule replaced him. The
show only continued for a few more episodes after Bailey left the show. Let George Do It was an extremely successful old time radio show that starred Bailey as private detective George Valentine. When the show first began, George was more like a bumbling private eye and the show tried to be a comedy. The character of George Valentine quickly turned into a more serious and tough, private detective. His secretary, Claire Brooks, nicknamed, “Brooksie,” went from being just his secretary, to a woman who had her heart set on Valentine.
George Valentine got his jobs by posting a want ad in the newspaper. The notice read:
“Personal Notice: Danger is my stock-in-trade. If the job is too tough for you to handle, you’ve got a job for me, George Valentine. Write full details.”
After Bailey finished, Let George Do It, he was cast as the lead role in Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, which CBS had revived because of its popularity. Some say that this was Bob Bailey’s best performance and that his portrayal of this character who had previously been played by John Lund and Edmund O’Brien, was the most popular and the most realistic. The shows that he did for Johnny Dollar, are the most sought after by collectors of vintage radio recording.
When the show relocated from California to New York, Bailey refused to relocate and lost the role. Bailey began writing TV scripts and had a very minor role in the film, The Birdman Of Alcatraz in 1962. Soon after this, Bailey retreated from Hollywood, as well as, his family and friends.
He struggled with alcoholism and his health steadily declined. He suffered a stroke early in the year of 1983 and died on August 13, 1983. Robert Bailey was 70 years old.