Just for fun, let’s break down the phenomenon of Perry Mason into numbers. Say a fan wanted to watch every episode of the Perry Mason show without any breaks from beginning to end. This would take approximately ten days straight!
If you thought that was fun, here’s another doozy. Raymond Burr holds one of the longest records for playing the same character in a TV show. Burr played Perry Mason for 36 years! The numbers truly offer a mind-blowing perspective into the show’s incredible impact.
Gardner Demanded Complete Creative Control
Before Burr immortalized Perry Mason on TV, three other actors played the role for theatrical films. Warren William was the first and arguably, the most successful with a four-film run. The second and third actors each received one film. Nobody was good enough.
When the series premiered 20 years later, Gardner ensured he retained complete creative control over characters and plot lines — he didn't want producers and executives to mess up his masterpiece again.
Casting Perry Mason
Gardner’s experiences with the big screen were horrendous, occasionally veering on the bizarre. When the opportunity for a Perry Mason TV show arose, a frustrated Gardner was determined to get it right. At least 50 actors auditioned for the coveted role of Perry Mason.
Gardner wasn’t impressed. This, until a man named Raymond Burr began reading for the part. Gardner instantly took to Burr’s delivery and persona. Despite everyone else’s objections, he refused to consider anyone else but Burr for the part.
Raymond Burr Couldn't Shake His Character Off
When you watch Perry Mason the series, it’s sometimes hard to tell when Raymond Burr ends and where Perry Mason begins. Burr stayed with the character for 271 episodes (each was an hour-long) and nine seasons! The show wrapped up in 1966, and Burr could finally break from the character — which he did, except destiny had more in store.
Burr returned after a two-decade-hiatus to star as Mason in a series of feature-length films for TV. The series consisted of 30 films, with Burr starring in 26 of them.
The Legacy of the First Perry Mason Novel
"The Case of the Velvet Claws" published in 1933, was the first of the Perry Mason novels. Deceit, death, and blackmail – the book had everything! Inside the pages was history in the making, although nobody knew it yet. The novel set the stage for the sophisticated Perry Mason, whose courtroom brilliance would take over people’s lives.
As the book amassed a loyal fan following, the entertainment industry wanted in on the action. Three years after publication, filmmakers adapted the novel for the big screen. Later, it appeared as an episode in season six of the TV series.