How much do you know about Perry Mason, starring Raymond Burr? Test your knowledge of television's most famous lawyer with TV Banter's 12-question quiz. Good luck.
1. What was the name of Perry Mason's chief adversary, the hapless district attorney who lost case after case against him.
A. Paul Lawson
B. Richard Hamilton
C. Hamilton Burger
D. Thomas Burger
E. Lawson Reed
2. What year did Perry Mason begin its run?
3. What was the title of the very first episode of the show?
A. The Case of the Sleepwalker's Niece
B. The Case of the Drowning Duck
C. The Case of the Sulky Girl
D. The Case of the Restless Redhead
E. The Case of the Runaway Corpse
4. Which of these female film stars made an guest appearance on Perry Mason?
A. Bette Davis
B. Loretta Young
C. Debbie Reynolds
D. Lauren Bacall
E. Jane Fonda
5. Who played Perry Mason's loyal secretary Della Street?
A. Barbara Bel Geddes
B. June Lockhart
C. Barbara Hale
D. Marjorie Lord
E. Abby Dalton
6. In which city did Perry Mason take place?
A. New York City
B. San Francisco, California
C. Boston, Massachusetts
D. San Diego, California
E. Los Angeles, California
7. Who played private investigator Paul Drake
A. Robert Culp
B. William Hopper
C. Peter Graves
D. James Garner
E. Brian Keith
8. What was Detective Paul Drake's pet name for Della Street? (This is your bonus question. If you answer it correctly, give yourself an extra point.)
A. Sweet Della
B. Dandy Della
9. Were all the episodes of Perry Mason filmed in black and white?
A. No, they were all filmed in colour.
B. Yes, they were all filmed in black and white.
C. Only the final season was filmed in colour.
D. The final two seasons were filmed in colour.
E. Only one episode was filmed in colour.
10. Erle Stanley Gardner, author of the Perry Mason novels, appeared in one episode of the TV series as a judge. What was the significance of that episode?
A. It was the final episode of the series.
B. Gardner collapsed and died of a heart attack the day after filming of the episode was completed.
C. It was the only episode in which Perry Mason lost a case.
D. It was the beginning of a feud between Gardner and Raymond Burr.
E. After that episode, Gardner became severely depressed and moved to Europe.
11. What is the name of Perry Mason's dramatic theme song?
A. Courtroom Melody
B. This is the Law
C. Park Avenue Beat
D. Lawyer's Theme
E. Fifth Avenue Melody
12. What was the name of the police homicide detective portrayed by Ray Collins?
A. Lieutenant Harry Craig
B. Lieutenant David Scott
C. Lieutenant James Ross
D. Lieutenant Arthur Tragg
E. Lieutenant Alfred Saunders
The hapless district attorney was Hamilton Burger. Burger was portrayed by William Talman. Talman, a heavy smoker, died of lung cancer on August 30, 1968 at the age of 53. It is interesting to note that he was the first Hollywood celebrity to film a non-smoking commercial. Knowing he was dying, Talman made two ads for the American Cancer Society and requested that it not be aired until after his death. To watch Bill Talman's second anti-smoking commercial, click on the link below.
Perry Mason premiered on September 21, 1957 on CBS and it ran for nine seasons. The final episode of the series aired on May 22, 1966. A total of 271 hour-long episodes of the show were produced. Only Raymond Burr as Perry and William Hopper as private detective Paul Drake appeared in all 271 episodes.
The first episode of the series was entitled "The Case of the Restless Redhead." In the episode, Perry's client claims she was chased by a hooded man near the same cliff where police had discovered the body of a man who had been shot and whose car had gone over the side of the mountain.
|Bette Davis as Constant Doyle|
Bette Davis appeared in an episode entitled "The Case of Constant Doyle. Bette played Constant Doyle, a woman who takes on a case involving a young man who knew her late husband and law partner. She seeks Perry's advice and guidance in the matter. "The Case of Constant Doyle" (Season 6, Episode 16) aired on January 31, 1963.
Barbara Hale played the role of Della Street, Perry Mason's devoted assistant. Barbara, who was born on April 18, 1922, recently turned 90 years old. She appeared in 270 of the 271 episodes of Perry Mason. Here is some more trivia: William Katt, who is best known for his starring role in The Greatest American Hero (1981-1983) is the son of Barbara Hale and her late husband, actor Bill Williams. Williams' real name was Hermann Katt and he died in 1992.
Perry Mason was set in Los Angeles, California. Mason's office was located in the Brent Building, Suite 904. His phone number was Madison 5-1190 (625-1190).
William Hopper played the role of Detective Paul Drake. Hopper, the son of legendary Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, passed away on March 6, 1970 in Palm Springs, California at the age of 55. While in hospital after suffering a stroke, he developed pneumonia. He then died of a heart attack.
|Paul Drake (William Hopper) with Della Street (Barbara Hale)|
Paul Drake's pet name for Della Street was "Beautiful."
Only one episode of the original Perry Mason was filmed in colour. It was "The Case of the Twice-Told Twist." (Season 9, Episode 21, Air date: February 27, 1966). In the episode, strongly influenced by Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, a gang strips Perry Mason's car (a Lincoln Continental). This gang of thieves entices a teenager to go along with them. Oh yes, the leader of the car stripping ring is named "Bill Sikes." Sound familiar?
|Gardner in 1966|
Erle Stanley Gardner appeared as a judge in the final episode of the series entitled "The Case of the Final Fadeout." Gardner was a lawyer who gave up his practice to devote himself to writing. In 1968, after the death of his estranged wife Natalie, he wed his long-time secretary Agnes Bethell upon whom he had based his Della Street character. He died in California at the age of 80 on March 11, 1970. Note. Dick Clark of American Bandstand fame guest-starred as a murder suspect in the "The Case of the Final Fadeout."
The name of the Perry Mason theme song is "Park Avenue Beat." It was written by the late Fred Steiner who died on June 23, 2011. Steiner also composed the music for The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show and was one of the team of composers for the film The Color Purple. To listen to the Perry Mason theme song, click on the link below.
The name of the police homicide detective in the series was Lieutenant Arthur Tragg. Due to illness, Ray Collins, who portrayed Tragg, appeared infrequently after the 1960 season. Collins died of emphysema on July 11, 1965. He was 75 years old at the time of his death.
* When asked why Perry Mason always won his cases, Raymond Burr jokingly replied, "But Madam, you see only the cases I try on Saturday." Yet many people wonder if Mason did indeed win every case in the series. CNN investigated the matter due to a statement made by Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
In 2009, Sotomayor declared that Perry Mason inspired her to seek a career in law. During her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings that year, she told Senator Al Franklin that watching the show made her want to be a prosecutor. When Franklin remarked that the prosecutor lost all but one case in the series, CNN decided to verify Franklin's statement. The cable news network discovered that the prosecutor actually won two cases against Mason and that Mason lost in some manor in at least three cases.
Here is what CNN research found:
May the record show that Perry Mason did lose three cases of almost 300 - a record many lawyers would envy, especially since he got one of his losses reversed on appeal. His losses were "The Case of the Witless Witness," "The Case of the Deadly Verdict" and "The Case of the Terrified Typist."
In "The Case of the Deadly Verdict," Perry's client, Janice Barton, is convicted of murdering her aunt and is sentenced to death. It isn't Mason's fault because Barton withheld the evidence needed to win the case. Perry, however, investigates and discovers the real murderer.
Mason also loses a civil case in "The Case of the Dead Ringer" partly because he is framed for witness tampering. He and his staff eventually prove his innocence and it is assumed that the verdict of the civil case is overturned or that a mistrial is declared.
* Raymond Burr died in Healdsburg, California on September 12, 1993. His kidney cancer had spread to his liver. He was 76 years old. Burr was born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada on May 21, 1917.
* William Talman was actually fired from the series in 1960 due to a scandal. The actor was a guest at a private party in Beverly Hills when it was raided by police on March 13, 1960. A morals charge was laid against him. Others at the party were charged with lewd conduct and vagrancy. Talman denied any wrongdoing and the judge dismissed the case against him and the others for lack of evidence. Nevertheless, there was a morals clause in his contract and CBS dismissed him. He was later rehired.
* From 1985 until Raymond Burr's death in 1993, NBC produced a series of Perry Mason television movies. Burr and Barbara Hale reprised their roles as Perry and Della. Barbara's son, William Katt played the role of Paul Drake, Jr. since William Hopper, the original Paul Drake, was deceased.
* In late 1962, Raymond Burr underwent minor surgery. As a result, there are four consecutive episodes in 1963 in which he only appears briefly. Several guest attorneys (played by Bette Davis, Walter Pidgeon, Hugh O'Brien and Michael Rennie) handle the case at hand.