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.
The Case of the Missing Sworn Testimony
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.”
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.
Being a Crossword Celebrity
Most people expect to be solving crossword puzzles instead of finding their names in one. Not Erle Stanley Gardner. He’s a crossword celebrity! Gardner’s name has had one the highest ratio of mentions in a crossword puzzle – 5:31!
This was not just any crossword puzzle but the one in "The New York Times." In addition, Gardner’s name has appeared more often than others across different newspaper sections since 1993. How does one make it into a crossword puzzle, you ask? An uncommon name like “Erle” and an unusual combination of letters might help!
The Longest Syndication Run in the History of All Time
The show made television history with a format that practically became a new canon – the legal drama. What’s more, the original show has one of the longest syndication runs in TV history. The show ran for 48 years on the Oregon Live station.
In September 2014, Portland’s KPTV-TV finally pulled the plug on the show after almost half a century. Fans can still catch the series on other platforms, however. A few online streaming platforms still carry the original show. And if all else fails, there’s always DVD!