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File:PerryMason 852.jpg

"Who can we get on the case?

We need Perry Mason

Someone to put you in place

Calling Perry Mason again"

Perry Mason is an iconic 1957-1966 CBS series descended from the radio drama of the same name and inspired by (and frequently dramatizing) the series of books by Erle Stanley Gardner. Perry Mason (Raymond Burr) is a skilled defense attorney who takes seemingly hopeless cases and turns them into victories. Aided by his secretary Della Street (Barbara Hale) and private investigator Paul Drake (William Hopper), he specializes in discovering the one fact that unravels the case against his client, and often ends up getting the true criminal to confess on the stand.

It got revived in 1973 as The New Perry Mason with a completely different cast, but the series lasted only one season. It was then revived again as Perry Mason Returns in 1985 with the surviving original cast plus William "The Greatest American Hero" Katt as Paul Drake, Jr. The success of this TV movie spurred the production of twenty-nine more Perry Mason TV movies between 1985 and 1994, with the last installment airing after Raymond Burr's death in 1993. (NBC made a few more TV movies without Raymond Burr before calling it quits.)

The series is very popular overseas -- a Turkish version (also called Perry Mason) was produced in 1983.

In an odd twist, the series made the jump from radio to TV twice -- and this instance was the second. The first time was in 1956, but at the last minute Erle Stanley Gardner withdrew his support for the project, and it was retooled into... the soap opera The Edge of Night. The attorney also inspired a song by Ozzy Osbourne.

Many episodes of the 1943-1955 radio series have fallen into the public domain in the United States, and can be downloaded courtesy of the Internet Archive.


Perry Mason provides examples of:

Notes

  1. For those wondering, in California, at least, the Grand Jury requirement can be waived for a pre-trial hearing in front of a judge
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