Few people know that as a child, Erle Gardner earned money by taking part in unlicensed boxing matches. He found loopholes in the California laws that made prizefighting a crime and so he benefited from the practice without worrying too much.
This was an unusual road to becoming a brilliant attorney, a more unusual one to becoming a writer. But then, Gardener is anything but ordinary.
Does Anyone Remember Seeing Gertie?
You often hear Della Street mention Gertie, the receptionist. You hear Perry Mason and Detective Drake speak of all the work Gertie needs to do. All well and good, save a minor problem. Who on earth is Gertie, and where was she for nine seasons?!
Many viewers claimed to have never seen her — a faceless, voiceless entity lost among the brighter stars in the Perry Mason galaxy. Gertie did appear on screen for 17 of the 271 episodes, played by the lovely Consuelo (Connie) Cezon.
Women in the Perry Mason Novels
Analyzing popular sensations like the Perry Mason franchise is a big ask. And when it involves studying women characters of the past, the path can be disappointing. But not with the Perry Mason novels. For books set in the 1930s, the women have incredible agency and voice.
Gardner gives equal weight to women’s opinions and aspirations. Della Street is undeniably the most significant person in Mason’s life and not as a love interest. Mason trusts her judgment and intuition. The cherry? Gardner doesn’t spend much time describing physical attributes — a brand of annoyance prevalent when male authors write about women characters.
Gardner Wrote Like a Literary Genius Possessed
Besides the novels that made him famous, Erle Gardner also produced a veritable avalanche of writing from 1920 onwards. He wrote everything – from travelogues and pulp fiction to novellas and science fiction! Among his fans were people like Albert Einstein, Pope John XXIII, and Harry S. Truman.
No other writer besides JK Rowling has seen such enormous success in book sales. The Perry Mason novels were a cultural sensation, with over 300 million copies sold to date.
Why William Talman Won in the End
In 1968, millions of Americans watched a commercial that would haunt them — at least, that’s what the creators hoped. It featured an emaciated William Talman – whose character (prosecutor Hamilton Burger) audiences had long pegged as a “loser.”
The short film by the American Cancer Society was an anti-smoking commercial. A message about smoking and losing from someone with an intimate experience of both. While filming it, Talman knew he was dying from lung cancer. Not one to go quietly into the light but laughing all the way, Talman ended with a wink saying, “Don’t be a loser.”