Classic Television: Perry Mason

Raymond Burr 1917-1993

Raymond Burr was primarily known for Perry Mason and Ironside television series. The Canadian actor originally tried out for the job of Hamilton Burger, who was the district attorney for Los Angeles, but ended up playing the lead role of Perry Mason.

Burr had portrayed a criminal in the Alfred Hitchcock class Rear Window in 1954, as he was the mysterious neighbor that Jimmy Stewart’s character watched from his wheelchair by the window of his apartment.

The radio version was broadcast from 1948-1955. Radiogoldindex.com lists 246 episodes in the radio version. Perry Mason became a television series two years later in 1957 and it was on television till 1966. It was interesting how the stories developed, then the show would end in a courtroom, as Mason would almost always win his cases.

Some interesting Perry Mason trivia from imdb.com:

When Burr was unable to act because of illness actors like Mike Connors, Bette Davis and Hugh O’Brian would replace him.

Only one episode was filmed in color, with the rest being filmed in black and white.

Erle Stanley Gardner, the author of the Perry Mason series appeared in the final episode as a judge.

1957 Ford Skyliner

 

Mason drove a 1957 Ford Skyliner¬†during the first season. He also drove GM cars during the first season driving a Cadillac, when he wasn’t driving the Skyliner. Some of the other characters also switched from Ford to GM cars, in different episodes.

All 271 episodes were titled “The Case of………, depending on the title of that episode.

Juries were seldom used in the episodes, so most of the courtroom scenes were from preliminary hearings, in order to save hiring 12 extras as jurors.

This morning I watched the episode named “The Case of the Melancholy Marksman” on the Hallmark Movie Channel and it was like old times watching Perry Mason in action.

It reminded me of television at its best, as I got caught up in the story and it kept my interest till the final courtroom scene was over.

Burr would go on to star on Ironside from 1967-1975, then in 1985 would appear as Mason in Perry Mason TV movies till 1993, the same year he died.

Perry Mason can be seen at various times on the Hallmark Movie Channel.

 

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