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.
What Erle Stanley Gardner Considered His Greatest Achievement
Was there anything Gardner couldn’t do? He was an attorney, filmmaker, and author whose best work found space everywhere – from film and shows to books and radio. But more than any of his works for TV or publishing, Gardner was most proud of The Court of Last Resort – an organization he founded to help people detained or jailed without cause.
Gardner rallied like-minded lawyers, former police officials, and private investigators to review and reverse wrongful convictions.
A Parting, Bittersweet Kiss
The TV movies achieved something the original show never did – a moment of romance between Perry Mason and Della Street! The penultimate film called “The Case of the Killer Kiss” ends with the two sharing a lovely kiss. Has this been the longest wait in the history of on-screen relationships? Probably.
The kiss ultimately proved bittersweet. The film was the last time the two appeared on screen together. By then, Raymond Burr was clinging to life after years of illness. Burr tragically passed in 1993, the same year the film was released.
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’s Unusual Ways
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.