Are you a fan of the classic legal drama TV series Perry Mason? It was easily one of the best TV shows produced in America and one that displayed heroism, intelligence, and class – qualities that we all crave to see in modern TV shows.
If you’re a huge fan of the show, you know exactly what we’re talking about. If you’ve never seen the show, we highly recommend it! But even if you’re the biggest fan of Perry Mason, there are probably many details that you didn’t know about!
Do you know how the show got its start? Do you know where Perry Mason got his unique name? And did he ever lose a case?
Watch this video to learn about the huge details you missed in Perry Mason…
HOW PERRY MASON BEGAN…
Erle Stanley Gardner was an American lawyer who practiced in California. He began his career as a typist at a local law firm. He began his journey as a lawyer working to assist impoverished persons, including many immigrants, who had not received a fair trial or had been wrongly imprisoned.
This inspired Erle to start The Court of Last Resort – which would later become the name of one of his novels. This was an organization to help those who had been wronged by the justice system. It paved the way for other similar organizations such as The Innocence Project and Centurion.
While he enjoyed his legal career, he soon realized he needed to find another outlet to express his ideas. He found this outlet in writing. He began writing short stories for pulp magazines and introduced American readers to a fascinating slew of characters, including detectives and attorneys.
These characters included Cool and Lam, Doug Selby, and Alphonse Baker Carr. Then, in 1933, he published his first novel featuring the character, Perry Mason.
That’s when his life changed….
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MEET PERRY MASON
The first Perry Mason novel was called The Case of the Velvet Claws. The novel became an instant success, and it was clear that Perry Mason was a character that would have a long lifespan. It was clear that audiences wanted to follow Perry Mason’s journey.
Erle Gardner continued to write novels and short stories featuring Perry Mason. In total, he wrote 80 stories featuring the character.
But fans wanted more than novels and short stories. Throughout the 1930s, Perry Mason became a featured character in several Hollywood films. Perry Mason later became a popular radio series that ran from 1943 to 1955.
In 1957, Perry Mason hit our TV screens. The character was played by Raymond Burr, and he soon became the best actor who brought Erle Gardner’s character to life. Perry Mason became one of the most popular TV shows in America. The series ran from 1957 to 1966 and is still popular among anyone who loves mystery and courtroom drama.
But even diehard fans of Perry Mason may have missed a few huge details about the show. If you love the show, you’ll want to know about these details. If you haven’t watched Perry Mason before, then these fun facts will intrigue you and should convince you to watch the show!
Let’s explore some of these details…
While we can’t imagine the Perry Mason TV series without Raymond Burr. In fact, he was the first choice for Producer Gail Patrick Jackson. Raymond Burr managed to beat out hundreds of other talented actors for the role.
But, he also had to lose weight to play the role! Raymond Burr was 60 pounds overweight and knew he had to slim down to play Perry Mason. He went on a crash diet so that he could play the role!
Now, that’s dedication! In fact, Raymond Burr loved the role so much and it seemed that no one could replace him. There were a few episodes where he wasn’t in the show due to the fact that he needed to have surgery. This didn’t lead the producer to replace him with another actor. There was even one episode where he phoned in for a cameo!
Raymond Burr was known to have an imposing figure but a calm demeanor. This made him perfect for the character of Perry Mason. Fans of classic cinema will also know Raymond Burr from his role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window.
For newcomers to Perry Mason, you’ll want to see the show just to witness one of Hollywood’s finest character actors at his best! We’ll likely continue to see new iterations of Perry Mason, but no one can play the character like Raymond Burr!
HOW DID HE GET A NAME LIKE PERRY MASON?
The name Perry Mason is rather unique, and many fans have wondered how Erle Gardner came up with it.
Early in his writing career, he created a character named Ken Corning. The character was a mix of an attorney and a detective. These stories were an interesting mixture of mystery and courtroom drama.
It was clear that this would be the character that would make Erle Gardner a household name. It was this character that resonated with audiences more than Erle’s other creations. He expanded upon this character and eventually changed the name to Perry Mason.
The name came from the Perry Mason and Co. publishing company which published the magazine “Youth’s Companion” which Erle subscribed to during his childhood. One wonders if the publishing company was aware that their name would get used to create one of the most memorable characters in American literature.
This unique name worked well. The name Perry Mason is now synonymous with heroism, intrigue, and legal expertise. How many characters can you name with such endearing qualities?
The Perry Mason character and stories continue to live on. The most recent adaptation is in the HBO series, which serves as a prequel to the original TV show.
ERLE GARDNER’s INVOLVEMENT
So, did the creator of Perry Mason have any involvement in any of the adaptations?
Warren William was the first actor to play the character in four films. Next, Ricardo Cortéz played him in The Case of the Black Cat. Later, Donald Woods played the character in The Case of the Stuttering Bishop.
Erle Gardner was vocal about his impressions of the adaptations. He didn’t care for Ricardo Cortéz’s portrayal of Perry Mason. He felt Donald Woods did a better job but that he wasn’t the best fit either.
When Raymond Burr landed the role, Erle Gardner was satisfied. While diehard fans will always say that Raymond Burr was born to play Perry Mason, it’s comforting to know that Erle Gardner also felt the same way.
The original Hollywood adaptations made Erle Gardner realize that he needed to have more creative control over future adaptations. He was actively involved with the Perry Mason TV series and even made a cameo appearance in the final episode.
No doubt the show’s success was partly due to the writer’s involvement. His creative control helped make the characters and plotlines more intriguing.
We can only hope that future adaptations can live up to the high expectations that Perry Mason fans have.
WHO WAS ON THE SHOW?
Apart from Raymond Burr, who were the other notable names featured on Perry Mason?
The show helped launch the career of Barbara Hale, who played Della Street – the character she’s most remembered for. William Hopper, who originally auditioned for the lead role, played Paul Drake.
The show also featured many cameos from famous actors and actresses such as Walter Pidgeon, Hugh O’Brian, and Bette Davis! It also featured many fledgling talents who later became huge stars. These included Burt Reynolds, Barbara Eden, Ryan O’Neal, Adam West, Leonard Nimoy, James Coburn, and Robert Redford! Talk about a lineup!
The show and its character were so popular that many stars vied for a spot in an episode. We expect to see more major talents in future adaptations. The current HBO series is produced by Robert Downey Jr., who was originally thinking of playing the lead role.
DID PERRY MASON EVER LOSE A CASE?
If you’ve watched Perry Mason, you’ve admired his ability to win even the most complex of cases. You’ll admire the fact that he was able to bring justice to those who needed it the most.
But, this begs the question: did Perry Mason ever lose a case?
It was rare to see Perry Mason lose a case. However, there were three incidences against him. In the episode “The Case of the Witless Witness,” Perry lost the case! He received a judgment against a client in a civil law trial.
There were two especially harrowing cases where Perry’s client was determined to be guilty. In “The Case of the Terrified Typist,” he was able to save his client from a guilty verdict.
In “The Case of the Deadly Verdict,” Perry’s client receives the death penalty after being found guilty.
But! He saves the day and manages to prove his client’s innocence. No doubt the inspiration for this story must have come from Erle Gardner’s legal career.
Perry Mason was one of the most intriguing TV series produced in America. The character remains one of the most fascinating characters in American media. If you’re a diehard fan of the show, you probably appreciate it more now that you know these huge details! If you’ve never seen the show before, there’s no better time to start!
Are you a fan of any of Perry Mason?
Do you feel the show still holds up today? Or do we need to promote it for newer audiences to discover?
Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
And if you’d like to catch up on Perry Mason or watch the show for the first time, you can stream all the episodes on Paramount +. Click the link in the description to sign up today! EDITORS NOTE: NOT SURE IF THIS IS NEEDED
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