The CBS TV series was undoubtedly the best adaptation of the excellent “Perry Mason” books. With Raymond Burr as the lead actor, the landmark show created waves and television history. However, Perry Mason was making a splash long before the silver screen. The books first received a new lease on life as a radio show.
From 1943 to 1955, listeners tuned in to “Perry Mason” – a 15-minute radio crime series that aired on CBS Radio every day. CBS Studios and Gardner teamed up later to create the wildly successful primetime TV show.
Fans Weren't Big on Law
In the show, Perry Mason's winning streak was legendary, almost fantastical. That's because, if one must be a stickler about it, several elements in the show were hardly accurate from a legal standpoint. Fans without any legal knowledge adored Mason regardless.
One fan approached Raymond Burr, who plays Mason, and asked how the lawyer never lost any cases. Burr famously quipped, “But madam, you only see the cases I try on Saturdays.”
Career Making Moments
In the ‘50s, Saturday meant only one thing: an hour of immersion in the lives of Perry Mason (Raymond Burr), Della Street (Barbara Hale), Paul Drake (William Hopper), and Lt Tragg (Ray Collins). "Perry Mason" catapulted the actors’ careers.
But the roster of famous names didn’t end with the star cast. The series featured at least 1,903 iconic actors such as Adam West, Barbara Eden, Robert Redford, Leonard Nimoy, and Burt Reynolds. The show helped put these names on the map.
The Muse for Della Street
No discussion about Perry Mason is complete without Della Street – his secretary. On more than one occasion, the savvy Della helps Mason save the day. She’s dutiful, loyal, and stunning! Despite plenty of will they/won’t they, the two never got together, and fans moved on to a new question. Who inspired the character of Della Street?
Gardner had three secretaries working for him. They also happened to be sisters. He married one of them (Jean), who people believe was the muse for beautiful, razor-sharp Della Street. The two never admitted it, however.
The Origin Story of Perry Mason
Before penning a detective fiction masterpiece, Erle Stanley Gardner was a lawyer — a bored, disillusioned one. Despite a passion for the law, his job left him uninspired. Gardner quit and began writing fiction for pulp magazines, bringing several characters to life in some of his early works.
Among his recurring characters was a lawyer named Ken Corning. Corning was as sharp as he was good-looking — a crusading attorney, an accomplished detective too. Sounds like someone we know? Ken Corning’s character provided the archetypal image of the now-legendary Perry Mason.