Perry mason Raymond burr

1- History

Erle Stanley Gardner was an enormous success with his novels Perry Mason. On the only American territory, the writer sold more than 100 million books and it was translated in many languages. It was thus very natural that he wants to give "life" to his character. In the Thirties, Gardner turned initially to the cinema and his hero was carried six times on the large screen.
The experiment is a catastrophe and Gardner will always have a bad memory of it. He then will turn to the radio and will transform the adventures of Perry Mason into radiophonic serials. Diffused on network CBS as from October 18, 1943, at a rate of five days per week during fifteen minutes, they will gain a sharp success during the twelve years of their diffusion.
John Larkin, Bartlett Robinson, Santos Ortega and Donald Briggs lent their voices to Perry Mason. Joan Alexander and Jan Miner lent their voices to Della Street.

In 1955, Gardner receives several enticing offers of television, which decides him to carry his hero on the small screen. But, cools by the cinematographic experiment, he prefers to base his own house of production (Paisano Productions) in order to keep a total control on his character. He calls upon a friend, Cornwell Jackson and with his wife, Gail Patrick Jackson, who will become respectively producer and producer executive. Gail was coed in right, which is a good point for the project, and Gardner appreciates her sufficiently to propose the role of Della Street to her, which she will refuse. Ben Brady, a lawyer, was engaged to help to structure the scenarios which were to then pass in the hands of Gardner to be approved before the launching of turning.

2- The casting

Raymond burr Cornwell Jackson launches out in the difficult task of the recruitment of the actors, most problematic being of course to find that which will play the part Perry Mason. Raymond Burr, noticed in film of Alfred Hitchock "Rear Window", presents himself for the hearing of the character of Hamilton Burger (he wanted to also present himself at that of Perry Mason but did not obtain profit of cause). Erle Stanley Gardner, which is present during these hearings, reacts as soon as he sees the actor: for him, Raymond Burr is Perry Mason. Cornwell and Gail, initially savagely opposed to this choice, will have to line up in the opinion of Gardner who stick not.

The future will prove that writer was right to insist…

Compared to the novels, the character corresponds rather well, especially at the physical level (Gardner describes Mason like a broad strapping fellow of shoulders to the powerful glance) but, on the personal level, there is a large difference: in the novels, the relation Perry-Della is unambiguous. In the series, they are just friendly.

Barbara Hale

For play the part Della Street, the faithful secretary of Mason, the producers call upon Barbara Hale. Initially model, she begins with the cinema in 1943 in westerns and, in 1950, she begins her career with television. Her face will remain definitively associated with Della Street.

In the novels, Gardner did not really describe Della, one knows just that she is about pretty young woman. She is entirely devoted to Mason, as in the series, but the producers did not wish to adopt the same tone as that of the novels. With the screen, Della and Perry are good friends, without more.

William Hopper
William Hopper offers his size imposing to the character of Paul Drake. Before Perry Mason, William had a long career, playing in many films or series TV.
He dies of a pneumonia in 1970 at the 55 years old.

His character is only who corresponds perfectly to the novels of Gardner, that it is on the level of the physique or the behavior. Paul is a disillusioned strapping fellow, working very often for Mason (for the greatest misfortune of his stomach) and appreciating vautrer in one of the armchairs of the office of lawyer. He is likely on several occasions to lose his licence of detective, because of the methods in extreme cases of legality of his employer.

William Talman
William Talman play the part District Attorney Hamilton Burger, eternal adversary of Perry Mason. Before the series, William played in many other series of which Climax!

His physique sticks perfectly to the role of the D.A, even if he has nothing to do with the character of Gardner. In fact, they is happy because the man described by the writer in his novels is a little too caricatured. Enough large, large with a bull neck, he is put easily in anger and, at least once by audience, becomes red like a peony. He hates Mason savagely and goes, on several occasions, to place himself cantilever with the law to try to make him stripe bar. It was a little too much and the producers played prudence, transforming Burger into character more sympathetic (he goes even until lunching with Mason), which will however not be enough: the DA will find the character insulting bus being baited systematically on the innocent ones.

Ray Collins
Ray Collins play the part lieutenant Arthur Tragg, of the murder division, which often inquires into the murders of which Mason is occupied, when he is not him which discovers the corpse. When he arrives on the turning of the series, Ray is 70 years old and has behind him long and prolific career of actor. He dies during the series, in 1965, of the continuations of a disease.

It is the character who sticks less to the novels of Gardner. In the latter, lieutenant Tragg has the same age as Mason (40), he is rather large, hefty and of a character go-ahead type. He tests admiration for Mason and preferred to have him "in his camp" but does not hesitate to come to him to assistance when he knows that he is right. In the series, the character is much more non-chalant (age obliges) but compensates for this defect by a humour squeaking of most pleasant. The relation Tragg-Mason is more cordial than in the novels even if the two men remain adversaries.

Perry mason

The hard core of the series (of left on the right):

William Tallman (Hamilton Burger). He dies in 1968.
Ray Collins (Lieutenant Arthur Tragg). He dies in 1965 (replaced by Wesley Lau in the role of lieutenant Andy Anderson, himself replaced by Richard Anderson in the role of lieutenant Steve Drumm in 1966)
Barbara Hale (Della Street)
Raymond Burr (Perry Mason)
William Hopper (Paul Drake). He dies in 1970, followed a few days later by Erle Stanley Gardner.

3- The filming

CBS buys the series and signs a contract with the Paisano productions: 500 000 $ plus half of the profits and a total control on the series for Gardner and his team. Each episode will cost 150 000 $ (to go up to 300 000 $ at the ninth season) and will be diffused in more than one hundred country.
The actors profited from a significant room for manoeuvre for play the part their characters, those being not very thorough in the novels of Gardner. Raymond Burr studies the penal procedures and the law in order to control his role well and gives him a personal language to refine his character. During new the years of Perry Mason, Raymond will go away on several occasions for reasons from health. In December 1962, he is operated intestines and six episodes will be turned without him, of the guest-stars coming to assistance with Perry Mason to replace him. Raymond reinstates the casting in March 1963. Wounded to the ligaments of the shoulder in an accident of helicopter in Vietnam, he will have to carry a splint for three months, his costumes being adapted for the occasion so that that is not seen too much.

Certain scandalmongers estimated that the good agreement which reigned on the plate was not used a work as quality. Raymond Burr held so that everyone is satisfied and took initiatives in this direction. Opposite a photograph where one can see, in background, a full rack of mugs with coffee; each member of the casting having to it his. At the time, the tradition wanted that each season is followed of a banquet… for Perry Mason, it is each episode which was thus celebrated.
But it was not right a question of good mood… for proof the case of George E. Stone, an actor veteran, who occupied in many episodes a chair in the court. he never moved, did not have anything to say. He was very sick and with blind half.
So certain people were of a serious naturalness, he was not the case of William Talman and Raymond Burr. Very fond of delicacies of jokes in all kinds, they did not stop making some between-them but also towards Barbara Hale, their privileged "target". The two men did not hesitate to tighten the elbows: when William was dismiss by CBS for "moral reason", Raymond badgered the chain until he was reinstated.

The series was very criticized by the districts attorneys and the lawyers who considered it not very realistic and, especially, which gave false ideas to the public, posing problem during true judgements (sworn trusted the series). Currently, the American courts encounter a similar problem with the series "C.S.I". But criticism also came from the interior: William found that his character made too much "eternal losing" and Raymond considered that several scenarios were drawn by the hair, himself having a little evil to follow the intrigue (what was noted by Gardner).
The series was a true success and it arrived until the fifth place of the Nielsen index. For this reason, CBS used it as war-horse and, to counter his competitors, changed several times its day of programming, which finished by him being prejudicial. In fall in the audiences, the series was stopped in 1966.

Perry Mason and Della Street

4- The return

Raymond Burr William Katt and Barbara Hale

But CBS knows that the series has an enormous potential and, in 1974, wants to give Perry Mason on the agenda. But Raymond Burr, occupied by the series Ironside, is not available. New a casting is put in building site with Monte Markham in the role of famous lawyer but the series makes a flop and will last only 15 episodes. For the public, Perry Mason can have only one face… and it is that of Raymond Burr, who will take again the role in 1985, accurately followed by Barbara Hale in that of Della Street. William Katt, the son of Barbara, will play the part Paul Drake Jr, the son of the late detective, in episodes 1 to 9. William R. Moses will play the part Ken Malansky, the Perry Mason assistant, in episodes 10 to 24. The series will add up 26 episodes, the last having been turned in 1993, little time before the death of Raymond Burr, and will gain a sharp success. Then, the series will be prolonged with The Perry Mason Mystery where one finds Barbara Hale and William R. Moses. There will be four episodes: one with Paul Sorvino in the role of Anthony Caruso and three with Hal Holbrook in the role of Wild Bill McKenzie. It stops in 1995.


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