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!
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.
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.
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!
Six Films, Five Novels
Five of the original Perry Mason novels were adapted into theatrical films. Warren William starred in the first four, which featured "Velvet Claws", "Curious Bride", "Howling Dog", and "Lucky Legs." The next was "Stuttering Bishop" starring Donald Woods.
"The Case of the Black Cat", the sixth film starring Ricardo Cortez was the only one without a connection to the Perry Mason novels. Unsurprisingly, it was Gardner’s least favorite among the six.