9/21/1957 - 9/4/1966 CBS 60
minutes Black and White - 271 total episodes
From the Erle Stanley
The New Perry Mason
9/1973 - 6/1974 CBS 60
Perry Mason Cast
Raymond Burr as Perry Mason Barbara Hale
as Della Street William Hopper as Paul Drake William Talman as District
Attorney Hamilton Burger Ray Collins as Lieutenant Arthur Tragg (1957-1965)
Connie Cezan as Gertie Lade (Mason's receptionist)
Erle Stanley Gardner wrote the original
Perry Mason books and formed a company, Paisano Productions for the TV version
of his character. Although he didn't write the scripts, he had approval and
stacked the production team with real lawyers to keep things
interesting. The formula was consistent. Perry Mason (Raymond Burr) got a
new client and the first half hour was about the crime. Paul Drake (William
Hopper) was sent out to investigate but rarely found anything close to a
smoking gun until the trial had begun.
Perry was assisted by his able
and loyal secretary, Della Street (Barbara Hale).
adversary was District Attorney Hamilton Burger (William Talman). Hard as
Burger tried, he couldn't beat Perry. Talman did not appear in every episode
and missed the 1960-1961 season due to a problem he had with police after a
Hollywood party where the partygoers were reportedly nude and stoned. Although
CBS fired him, Raymond Burr fought for and got his reinstatement.
most episodes, the real guilty party broke down under Mason's grilling
cross-examination. Or blurted it out from the spectator's gallery. Then Perry,
Della and Paul would recap the case, just in case we hadn't figured it
The heavy load the show placed upon Burr's shoulders began to take
its toll on the actor. The long hours forced him to live at the studio in an
apartment they made for him. The many lines of dialogue became impossible to
memorize and he read his lines off a Teleprompter.
The brought the show
back in 1973 with Monte Markam in the title role and with Sharon Aker as Della
and Albert Stratton as Paul. It only lasted a year.
But Perry Mason
didn't die there. He lives on in reruns and the many made for TV movies.
Ray Collins died in 1965 of emphysema, William Talman
in 1968 of lung cancer, William Hopper in 1970 of pneumonia, and Raymond Burr
died in 1993 of liver cancer.
Perry Mason Trivia
Raymond Burr wasn't the first choice for the role of Perry
Mason. Actually, he tried out for DA Burger. Fred MacMurray and Efrem Zimbalist
Jr were among those rejected on the way to the wiser choice of Burr.
Perry Mason Trivia
Actress Barbara Hale was married to actor Bill Williams who
starred in Buckskin. They had a son, William Katt who starred in Greatest
Actor William Hopper was the son of legendary gossip
columnist Hedda Hopper.