Perry Mason

Created by Erle Stanley Gardner
(1889-1970)

PERRY MASON is Raymond Burr as a Defense Attorney, right?

Not a P.I., right?

Well, sorta. In the first ten or so books by pulpmeister Erle Stanley Gardner, Perry comes off as a particularly hard-boiled lawyer/detective, throwing his weight around, breaking and entering, and other private eye shenanigans, not above keeping a bottle of whiskey in his desk or roughing up a suspect or two — one of Gardner’s long line of corner-cutting heroes

As Doug Bassett pointed out on Rara Avis once upon a time, “The first Mason, The Case of the Velvet Claws, in particular, is certainly hard-boiled. Mason is definitely seen as a sort of Sam Spade-like character, willing to twist the law to serve his own higher ideals of justice. I like Gardner’s work generally — he’s a wonderfully readable author — but later books are much tamer, ‘medium boiled’, if anything.”

Gardner was one of the leading writers for Black Mask, the legendary hard-boiled crime fiction magazine. Although Mason never appeared in its pages, Gardner published a six short stories starring a crusading defense lawyer named Ken Corning who fought against injustice in a corrupt city, serving as a rough template — and some say a trial run — for Mason.

In fact, Gardner created a slew of characters for the pulps, private eyes and otherwise. Many claim, however, that his greatest creation was the mismatched pair of Bertha Cool and Donald Lam. And even if one argues that Mason isn’t really a private eye, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the novels do feature one of the most enduring fictional private detectives of all time, even if he is always playing second fiddle to his famous client. I’m referring, of course, to Paul Drake, whom reader Frank Patterson has quite rightly taken me to task for overlooking.

FILMS

It certainly didn’t take long for Perry Mason to hit the silver screen. The first novel, The Case of the Velvet Claws, appeared in 1933, and the first film, The Case of the Howling Dog (based on the fourth novel of the series — that’s how fast Gardner wrote) appeared in 1934, starring Warren William as a rather dashing attorney with a definite eye for the ladies, who knew his way around a courtroom. In these early films, Mason was quite similar to the Mason of the books. He was tough, thoroughly professional, and more-or-less honest (though not always exactly ethical). Warner Bros did six films between 1934 and 1937, and while the first four, all with Williams, were decent, grade-A entertainment, the last two were done on the cheap.  Ricardo Cortez got to play Mason once, as did Donald Woods, in the final Warner flick, The Case of the Stuttering Bishop.

RADIO

Nearly everyone is familiar with Mason and his ten year run on CBS television starring Raymond Burr. But radio’s Perry Mason was very different. The 15-minute episodes aired Monday to Friday on CBS at 2:15 pm, sandwiched between The Second Mrs. Burton and Lone Journey, sponsored by “the new Tide, the amazing washday miracle.” In other words, it was a soap opera!

Like most soaps, it ran a very long time, from October 1943 to December 1955. Numerous actors played Mason over the years, including Barlett Robinson, Santos Ortega, Donald Biggs, and John Larkin. His secretary, Della Steet, was voiced by Gertrude Warner, and later, Jan Miner and Joan Alexander. It wasn’t written by Gardner (although he got royalties for every show), so various other script writers handled this task, including Ruth Borden and Irving Vendig. The organist was William Meeder.

Perry wasn’t in the courtroom a great deal, as he was usually knocking down doors with Lt. Tragg and arrresting bad guys–in other words, he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, much closer in fact to Gardner’s early novels than the sanitized courtroom figure of Burr’s TV persona. But since this was a soap, there was little time wasted on male action. In a typical episode, Mason and Tragg are trying to capture Killer Bill Barker and, as they knock on his door, the announcer breaks in with: “But let’s join Lt. Tragg’s wife, Harriet, as she says to her neighbor, Martha….” The next twelve minutes have Harriet and Martha discussing whether Martha should remarry after the death of her husband in the war. And we only get back to Mason and Tragg only for the lead-in to the closing Tide commercial.

TELEVISION

The first attempt to bring Mason to the small screen was to just continue the radio show which had just ended its run in December 1955. However, the show’s producers, Proctor & Gamble, couldn’t reach a deal with Gardner, so a writer from the radio show, Irving Vendig, created their own version of Mason, dubbed him Mike Karr, and called it The Edge of Night.

And wouldn’t you know it? That sucker ran for almost thirty years, from April 2, 1956 (it was originally broadcast live!) until December 28, 1984. Long-time fan James Reasoner dubbed it “the mystery soap opera,” and he wasn’t kidding–let the other shows have their doctors and convoluted family sagas–Edge’s main characters were cops (good and bad), DAs, detectives, lawyers, killers and enough wrongos to last an amazing 7420 episodes. In 1980, when, in honor of its 25 years on the air, it was even given a special Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America.

As James recalls,

“I don’t know the entire history of the series, but by the time I was watching it, mystery novelist and Edgar winner Henry Slesar had been hired at the head writer, and he continued in that job for many, many years, often writing almost every episode with assistance from only one or two staff writers. The plots tended to move a little faster than on most soaps, and there was nearly always an unsolved murder or two driving the action. And action there was, with a minimum of sitting around talking. The characters were almost always in motion. The cast expanded to bring in more doctor characters, but hospital scenes were more than balanced out by smoky, jazzy moments in the local watering hole, the Blue Moon Café, run by the somewhat shady Johnny Dallas. And if you were lucky, at the end of an episode you got the full-length version of the show’s theme song, which had a definite noirish, wet-streets feel to it.”

The next attempt to bring Mason to television came a year later and was slightly more successful. You may even have heard of it. Raymond Burr starred as Mason in Perry Mason, in one of the all-time great detective shows. It ran for nine seasons, from 1957-1966 on CBS, and firmly established Mason as one of America’s most beloved crimefighters, and turned Gardner into arguably the most successful American mystery novelist of all time. And just like in the books, the early episodes had Mason cutting a few corners on behalf of his clients.

The shows success even inspired a short-lived revival, The New Perry Mason, starring Monte Markham, but it just didn’t click with viewers, and only lasted one season. Markham wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t Burr.

Raymond Burr finally relented, and returned as Mason in in 1985, along with Barbara Hale once more as Della in the appropriately tiled Perry Mason Returns, the first of a seemingly endless string of popular made-for-television movies which ran until 1995.

And then in 2020, HBO announced that they were launching their own Perry Mason, an ambitious eight-part prequel, starring Matthew Rhys as a down-and-almost-out private eyes on his way to becoming a lawyer.

COMICS & COMIC STRIPS

Although Perry was a smash hit in books, on radio, and especially TV, that success never quite translated into comics, although several people took a whack at it.

In January 1944, Book-of-the-Month published two “comic strip” adaptations of the Perry Mason novels The Case of the Black-Eyed Blonde and The Case of the Crooked Candle, adapted by Nevil Shute and drawn by  Stephen Grout.  The Book-of-the-Month was a syndicated feature that ran in numerous periodicals from 1942-47, and also adapted Fountainhead, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Lost Weekend and much more. But these weren’t really comics–they were more like illustrated adaptations, with each daily panel boasting three comic-style illustration, with three columns of story below.

Mason’s first appearances in bona fide comics were two comic book adaptations of Gardner novels in the late forties, in two issues of David McKay’s Feature Books (issues 49 and 50, for those of you keeping scores). The Case of the Lucky Legs (1946) was adapted by Vernon Greene and The Case of the Shoplifter’s Shoe (1947) was drawn by Paul Norris. Although both are extremely collectible now, at the time they barely drew any notice.

A few years later, an attempt was made to bring Perry Mason to the comics page of newspapers, with mixed results. Drawn by Mel Keefer and Charles Lofgren, and probably scripted by Gardner himself, it was difficult to adapt the intricate court cases into the comics media, although the strip does have its moments. Alas, it lasted less than two years.

And finally, in 1964, with the television show a certified hit, Dell Comics released two issues of Perry Mason Mystery Magazine, with photo covers of Raymond Burr as our man Mason.

* * * * *

NOVELS

   

  • The Case of the Velvet Claws (1933) Buy this book Kindle it
  • The Case of the Sulky Girl (1933) Buy this book
  • The Case of the Curious Bride (1934)
  • The Case of the Howling Dog (1934)
  • The Case of the Lucky Legs (1934)
  • The Case of the Caretaker’s Cat (1935)
  • The Case of the Counterfeit Eye (1935)
  • The Case of the Sleepwalker’s Niece (1936)
  • The Case of the Stuttering Bishop (1936)
  • The Case of the Dangerous Dowager (1937)
  • The Case of the Lame Canary (1937)
  • The Case of the Shoplifter’s Shoe (1938)
  • The Case of the Substitute Face (1938)
  • The Case of the Perjured Parrot (1939)
  • The Case of the Rolling Bones (1939)
  • The Case of the Baited Hook (1940) Buy this book | Buy the audio Kindle it!
  • The Case of the Silent Partner (1940)
  • The Case of the Empty Tin (1941)
  • The Case of the Haunted Husband (1941)
  • The Case of the Careless Kitten (1942) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • The Case of the Drowning Duck (1942)
  • The Case of the Buried Clock (1943)
  • The Case of the Drowsy Mosquito (1943)
  • The Case of the Black-Eyed Blonde (1944) Buy this book
  • The Case of the Crooked Candle (1944)
  • The Case of the Golddigger’s Purse (1945)
  • The Case of the Half-Wakened Wife (1945)
  • The Case of the Borrowed Brunette (1946)
  • The Case of the Fan-Dancer’s Horse (1947)
  • The Case of the Lazy Lover (1947) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • The Case of the Lonely Heiress (1948) Buy this book | Kindle it!
  • The Case of the Vagabond Virgin (1948)
  • The Case of the Cautious Coquette (1949)
  • The Case of the Dubious Bridegroom (1949) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • The Case of the Negligent Nymph (1950)
  • The Case of the One-Eyed Witness (1950)
  • The Case of the Angry Mourner (1951)
  • The Case of the Fiery Fingers (1951)
  • The Case of the Grinning Gorilla (1952)
  • The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink (1952)
  • The Case of the Green-Eyed Sister (1953) Buy this book | Kindle it!
  • The Case of the Hesitant Hostess (1953)
  • The Case of the Fugitive Nurse (1954)
  • The Case of the Restless Redhead (1954)
  • The Case of the Runaway Corpse (1954)
  • The Case of the Glamorous Ghost (1955) Buy this book
  • The Case of the Nervous Accomplice (1955)
  • The Case of the Sun Bather’s Diary (1955)Buy this book
  • The Case of the Demure Defendant (1956; aka “The Case of the Missing Poison”)
  • The Case of the Gilded Lily (1956) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • The Case of the Terrified Typist (1956) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • The Case of the Daring Decoy (1957)
  • The Case of the Lucky Loser (1957)
  • The Case of the Screaming Woman (1957)
  • The Case of the Calendar Girl (1958)
  • The Case of the Footloose Doll (1958)
  • The Case of the Long-Legged Models (1958; aka “The Case of the Dead Man’s Daughters”)
  • The Case of the Deadly Toy (1959; aka “The Case of the Greedy Grandpa”)
  • The Case of the Mythical Monkeys (1959)
  • The Case of the Singing Skirt (1959)
  • The Case of the Waylaid Wolf (1959)
  • The Case of the Duplicate Daughter (1960)
  • The Case of the Shapely Shadow (1960)
  • The Case of the Bigamous Spouse (1961)
  • The Case of the Spurious Spinster (1961)
  • The Case of the Blonde Bonanza (1962)
  • The Case of the Ice-Cold Hands (1962)
  • The Case of the Reluctant Model (1962)
  • The Case of the Amorous Aunt (1963)
  • The Case of the Mischievous Doll (1963)
  • The Case of the Step-Daughter’s Secret (1963)
  • The Case of the Daring Divorcee (1964)
  • The Case of the Horrified Heirs (1964)
  • The Case of the Phantom Fortune (1964)
  • The Case of the Beautiful Beggar (1965)
  • The Case of the Troubled Trustee (1965)
  • The Case of the Worried Waitress (1966)
  • The Case of the Queenly Contestant (1967)
  • The Case of the Careless Cupid (1968)
  • The Case of the Fabulous Fake (1969) Buy this book
  • The Case of the Crimson Kiss (1970)
  • The Case of the Crying Swallow (1971)
  • The Case of the Fenced-In Woman (1972)
  • The Case of the Irate Witness (1972)
  • The Case of the Postponed Murder (1973)
  • BY THOMAS CHASTAIN
    The series was continued after Gardner’s death in a few books written in the eighties by Thomas Chastain, who created New York eye J.T. Spanner.
  • The Case of the Too Many Murders (1989)
  • The Case of the Burning Bequest (1990)

SHORT STORIES

  • “The Case of the Crying Swallow” (August 1947, The American Magazine)
  • “The Case of the Crimson Kiss” (June 1948, The American Magazine)
  • “The Case of the Suspect Sweethearts” (May 1950, Radio and Television Mirror; as Della Street’)
  • “The Case of the Irate Witness” (January 17, 1953, Collier’s)

FILMS

  • THE CASE OF THE HOWLING DOGBuy this DVD set
    (1934, Warner Brothers)
    Black and white
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Directed by Alan Crosland
    Starring Warren William as PERRY MASON
    with Helen Trenholm as Della
    Also starring Mary Astor, Allen Jenkins
  • THE CASE OF THE CURIOUS BRIDE Buy this DVD set
    (1935, Warner Brothers)
    Black and white
    Based on the novel by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Directed by Michael Curtiz
    Starring Warren William as PERRY MASON
    with Claire Dodd as Della
    Also starring Errol Flynn
  • THE CASE OF THE LUCKY LEGS Buy this DVD set
    (1935, Warner Brothers)
    76 minures
    Black and white
    Based on the novel by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Directed by Archie Mayo
    Starring Warren William as PERRY MASON
    with Genevieve Tobin as Della
    Also starring Patricia Ellis, Lyle Talbot, Allen Jenkins, Barton Maclane, Peggy Shannon, Porter Hall
    Supposedly the best of the Perry Mason films from Warners, with the emphasis on charm and action rather than courtroom histrionics.
  • THE CASE OF THE VELVET CLAWS Buy this DVD set
    (1936, Warner Brothers)
    Black and white
    Based on the novel by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Warren William as PERRY MASON
    with Claire Dodds as Della
    Also starring Eddie Acuff, Wini Shaw
  • THE CASE OF THE BLACK CAT Buy this DVD set
    (1936, Warner Brothers)
    Black and white
    Based on the novel The Case of the Caretaker’s Cat by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Directed by William McGann
    Starring Ricardo Cortez as PERRY MASON
    with June Travis as Della
  • THE CASE OF THE STUTTERING BISHOP Buy this DVD set
    (1937, Warner Brothers)
    Black and white
    Based on the novel by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Directed by William Clemens
    Starring Donald Woods as PERRY MASON
    Also starring Joseph Crehan, Edward McWade, Linda Perry

RADIO & AUDIO

  • PERRY MASON
    (aka “The New Adventures of Perry Mason”)
    (1943-1955, CBS)
    15-minute episodes, daily
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Writers: Ruth Borden, Irving Vendig
    Organist: William Meeder
    Starring Barlett Robinson as PERRY MASON
    (also played by Santos Ortega, Donald Biggs, and John Larkin)
    with Gertrude Warner as Della Street
    (later, Jan Miner and Joan Alexander)
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE SULKY GIRL | Buy this show
    (2008, Sirius XM Satellite Radio)
    115 minutes
    Based on the novel by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Dramatized for Audio by M.J.Elliott
    Directed by Jerry Robbins
    Produced by Seth Adam Sher
    Executive Producer: Mark Vander Berg
    Starring Jerry Robbins as PERRY MASON
    with Diane Capen as Della Street
    and J.T. Turner as Paul Drake
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE VELVET CLAWS Buy this show
    (2009, Sirius XM Satellite Radio)
    91minutes
    Based on the novel by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Dramatized for Audio by M.J.Elliott
    Directed by Jerry Robbins
    Produced by Seth Adam Sher
    Executive Producer: Mark Vander Berg
    Starring Jerry Robbins as PERRY MASON
    with Diane Capen as Della Street
    and J.T. Turner as Paul Drake
    Also starring Leigh Berry, Sam Donato

COMICS & COMIC STRIPS

 

  • BOOK-OF-THE-MONTH
    (1942-47, King Features)
    A syndicated feature that ran in numerous periodicals, althoguh they weren’t really comics–more like illustrated adaptations, with each daily panel boasting three comic-style illustration, with three columns of text below.

    • THE CASE OF THE BLACK-EYED BLONDE
      (January 1942)
      Based on the novel by Erle Stanley Gardner
      Adapted by Nevil Shute
      Drawn by  Stephen Grout
    • THE CASE OF THE CROOKED CANDLE
      (January 1942)
      Based on the novel by Erle Stanley Gardner
      Adapted by Nevil Shute
      Drawn by  Stephen Grout
  • FEATURE BOOKS
    (1937-48, David McKay Publications)
    Two issues featured Perry Mason adaptations

    • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE LUCKY LEGS
      (1946, Feature Books #49)
      Based on the 1934 novel by Erle Stanley Gardner
      Art by Vernon Greene
    • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE SHOPLIFTER’S SHOE
      (1947, Feature Books #50)
      Based on the 1938 novel by Erle Stanley Gardner
      Art by Paul Norris
  • PERRY MASON
    (October 16, 1950-June 21, 1952, Universal Syndicate)
    8 story arcs
    Written by Erle Stanley Gardner? (it’s possible-he liked to have a hand in things)
    Artists: Mel Keefer, Charles Lofgren

    • “The Case of the Innocent Thief” (October 16, 1950)
    • “The Case of the Nervous Horse” (November 2, 1950)
    • “The Case of the Missing Husband” (February 13, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Constant Cricket” (May 15, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Curious Cop” (last arc, ended June 21, 1952)
  • PERRY MASON MYSTERY MAGAZINE
    (1964, Dell Comics)
    Two issues
    These two tie-in issues with the TV show featured Raymond Burr on the cover.

COMIC STRIP COLLECTIONS

  • Four Cases of Murder (1989, Malibu) Buy this book
    Collects four of eight story arcs from the syndicated strip from the fifties.

TELEVISION

  • PERRY MASON
    (1957-1966, CBS)
    271 episodes
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Writers: Jonathan Latimer, Samuel Newman, Jackson Gillis, Gene Wang, Robert C. Dennis, Seeleg Lester, Orville H. Hampton, Ernest Frankel, Milton Krims, Maurice Zimm, Robb White, Robert Leslie Bellem, Stirling Silliphant, Helen Nielsen
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    Also starring Barbara Hale as Della Street
    William Hopper as Paul Drake
    and William Talman as Hamilton Burger
    With Ray Collins, Karl Held, Wesley Lau, Richard Anderson, Lee Miller, Dan Tobin

  • PERRY MASON
    (aka “The New Adventures of Perry Mason”)
    (1973-1974, CBS)
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Monte Markham as PERRY MASON
    WithSharon Acker as Della Street
    Albert Stratton as Paul Drake
    and Harry Guardino as Hamilton Burger
    Also starring Dane Clark, Brett Somers, Connie Cezon
    A short-lived attempt to recapture the Mason magic. It came, we saw, it went away…
  • PERRY MASON RETURNS
    (1985)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Premiere: December 1, 1985
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Written by Dean Hargrove
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William Katt as Paul Drake, Jr.
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE NOTORIOUS NUN1985)
    (1986)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William Katt as Paul Drake, Jr.
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE SHOOTING STAR
    (1986)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William Katt as Paul Drake, Jr.
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE LOST LOVE
    (1987)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William Katt as Paul Drake, Jr.
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE SINISTER SPIRIT
    (1987)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William Katt as Paul Drake, Jr.
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE MURDERED MADAM
    (1987)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William Katt as Paul Drake, Jr.
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE SCANDALOUS SCOUNDREL
    (1987)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William Katt as Paul Drake, Jr.
    PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE AVENGING ACE
    (1988)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William Katt as Paul Drake, Jr.
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE LADY IN THE LAKE
    (1988)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William Katt as Paul Drake, Jr.
    Last appearance of William Katt as Paul Drake, Jr.
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE LETHAL LESSON
    (1989)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
    First appearance of William R. Moses as law student Ken Malansky, who becomes Perry’s new investigator, replacing Paul Drake Jr.
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE MUSICAL MURDER
    (1989)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE ALL-STAR ASSASSIN
    (1989)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE POISONED PEN (1990) (TV MOVIE)
    (1990)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE DESPERATE DECEPTION
    (1990)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE SILENCED SINGER
    (1990)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE DEFIANT DAUGHTER
    (1990)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE RUTHLESS REPORTER
    (1991)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE MALIGNED MOBSTER
    (1991)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE GLASS COFFIN
    (1991)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE FATAL FASHION
    (1991)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE FATAL FRAMING
    (1992)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE RECKLESS ROMEO
    (1992)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE HEARTBROKEN BRIDE
    (1992)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE SKIN-DEEP SCANDAL
    (1993)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE TELLTALE TALK SHOW HOST
    (1993)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
    Perry and Della kiss!
  • PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE KILLER KISS
    (1993)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William Katt as Paul Drake, Jr.
    The last appearance of Burr as Mason, and his last film.
  • A PERRY MASON MYSTERY: THE CASE OF THE WICKED WIVES
    (1993)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Paul Sorvino as ANTHONY CARUSO
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William Katt as Paul Drake, Jr.
    Due to contractual obligations, the series carried on as a “Perry Mason Mystery,” with Paul Sorvino stepping in to play attorney Anthony Caruso.
  • A PERRY MASON MYSTERY: THE CASE OF THE LETHAL LIFESTYLE
    (1994)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Hal Holbrook as WILD BILL MCKENZIE
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • A PERRY MASON MYSTERY: THE CASE OF THE GRIMACING GOVERNOR
    (1994)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Hal Holbrook as WILD BILL MCKENZIE
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • A PERRY MASON MYSTERY: THE CASE OF THE JEALOUS JOKESTER
    (1995)
    Made-for-TV movie
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Starring Hal Holbrook as WILD BILL MCKENZIE
    With Barbara Hale as Della Street
    and William R. Moses as Ken Malansky
  • PERRY MASON
    (2020, HBO)
    8-part mini-series episodes
    Premiere: June 21, 2020
    Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
    Writers: Ron Fitzgerald, Rolin Jones, Sarah Kelly Kaplan, Eleanor Burgess, Steven Hanna, Kevin J. Hynes, Howard Korder
    Directors: Timothy Van Patten, Deniz Gamze Ergüven
    Showrunners: Ron Fitzgerald, Rolin Jones
    Executive producers: Matthew Rhys, Robert Downey Jr., Susan Downey
    Art Direction by Chris Farmer & Robert W. Joseph
    Starring Matthew Rhys (and his stubble) as PERRY MASON
    with Juliet Rylance as Della Street
    Chris Chalk as Paul Drake
    and Shea Whigham Pete Strickland
    Also starring Tatiana Maslany, John Lithgow, Nate Corddry, Gayle Rankin, Lili Taylor, Stephen Root, Robert Patrick, Matt Frewer, Gretchen Mol,
    Set in 1930s Los Angeles, HBO’s decided to focus on Perry BEFORE he became a hot-shot criminal lawyer, when he was hardluck private eye, recently divorced and haunted by his wartime experience. The show looked very good, but WTF? This show was originally going to star Robert Downey Jr., but he bailed to be Iron Man (although he remained executive producer), and then it was to be written and produced by Nic Pizzolatto, but he left to work on the third season of True Detective. Which left it in the allegedly capable hands of Ron Fitzgerald and Rolin Jones.

DVD & VIDEOS

  • 50th Anniversary Edition | Buy this DVD set
    For those who aren’t (yet) fanatics, here’s a great solution: this 50th anniversary set collects a dozen episodes, and fills out the set with a the 1985 TV-movie revival, Perry Mason Returns, screen tests, assorted interviews with Barbara Hale, producer-director Arthur Marks and CBS executive Anne Nelson, and Raymond Burr, plus promo clips and a photo gallery. It won’t be enough for dedicated fans, still seething over the glacial-like release schedule of the complete series, but it’s a good introduction to the series.
  • The Original Warner Bros. Movies Collection | Buy this DVD set
    Rounds up all six Warner Bros. flicks from the 1930s, starring Warren Willima, Ricardo Cortez and William clemens as Erle Stanley Garder’s slick-as-spit criminal defense attorney.

FURTHER INVESTIGATION

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith, Jack French and James Reasoner. And thanks to Ed Collins for the tip, and Fred Salter for the heads-up.

 

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