Erle Stanley Gardner may have quit his job as an attorney, but his love for the law remained steadfast. One sees it in every episode of Perry Mason, where legal themes dominate narratives and plotlines. For audiences, it was like being inside a real-life courtroom. Many consider it the frontrunner for exciting, (mostly) authentic legal drama. Well, barring some creative liberties.
However, one significant legal practice isn’t featured anywhere on the show – the sworn testimony. On the show, characters taking an oath never swore on the Bible or used “so help me God.”
The Real Difference Between the Show and the Books
Gardner had written eighty Perry Mason books while the show ran for nine seasons with 270 1-hour long episodes. The novels reveal little about the crime-solving lawyer’s background. And this is where the show digressed significantly from the novels. Gardner created new plots, characters, and background material for the television series.
The show debuted in 1957, and Gardner wrote over 30 new Perry Mason novels until he died in 1970. None of the novels contained the storylines he created for the series.
Art Imitates Life
Hasn’t everyone wanted to know more about Perry Mason? Particularly how he became lawyer extraordinaire? Mason’s past life may have enough intrigue for a prequel — just putting it out there! What we know from the books and show is vague at best. But one significant storyline provides a sneak-peek into Mason’s past.
In the "Case of the Misguided Missile," Mason reveals that he served in the Navy during World War II, stationed somewhere in the Pacific. What’s intriguing is that Raymond Burr also served in real life. Burr sustained injuries while in Okinawa and came back home.
"Perry Mason" was undoubtedly a phenomenon in the country. It was the first one-hour Hollywood series that aired every week on TV and the American audience just loved tuning in.
But, contrary to popular opinion, it wasn’t just a hit in the US. Most people don’t know that the show has aired in at least 58 countries! The show’s ‘whodunit’ premise was so appealing and universal that it worked in every single country!
One Actor Left the Show Midway
After the 1960 run of the show, Ray Collins’ (Lt. Tragg) appearances became scattered. Collins was extremely ill during this time. His illness prevented him from memorizing lines or showing up regularly on set. When it became clear he couldn’t carry on, Collins had to leave the show midway during season 7.
The show’s creators decided to keep Collins’ name on the credits. The decision hoped to partly keep his morale going and ensure he continued receiving medical and health benefits from the actors’ union. Collins sadly passed away in 1965.