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 also adapted from a novel but had its name changed. The novel’s original name was “The Case of the Caretaker’s Cat.” It was Gardner’s least favorite among the six.
Casting Perry Mason
Gardner’s experiences with the big screen were horrendous, occasionally veering on the bizarre. When the opportunity for a Perry Mason TV show arose, a frustrated Gardner was determined to get it right. At least 50 actors auditioned for the coveted role of Perry Mason.
Gardner wasn’t impressed. This, until a man named Raymond Burr began reading for the part. Gardner instantly took to Burr’s delivery and persona. Despite everyone else’s objections, he refused to consider anyone else but Burr for the part.
Gardner Demanded Complete Creative Control
Before Burr immortalized Perry Mason on TV, three other actors played the role for theatrical films. Warren William was the first and arguably, the most successful with a four-film run. The second and third actors each received one film. Nobody was good enough.
When the series premiered 20 years later, Gardner ensured he retained complete creative control over characters and plot lines — he didn't want producers and executives to mess up his masterpiece again.
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!
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!