Perry Mason (radio)

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Perry Mason
Perrymason-book-radio.jpg
Genre Daily Crime Serial
Running time 15 Minutes
Country USA
Language(s) English
Syndicates CBS Radio
TV adaptations The Edge of Night
Starring Bartlett Robinson,Santos Ortega, Donald Briggs, John Larkin (1947 - 1955) Gertrude Warner, Joan Alexander
Announcer Bob Dixon, Alan Kent, Richard Stark
Creator(s) Erle Stanley Gardner (original stories)
Writer(s) Irving Vendig
Director(s) Art Hanna, Carlo deAngelo, Carl Eastman, Hoyt Allen, Ralph Butler
Producer(s) Tom McDermott
Exec. producer(s) Leslie Harris
Recording studio New York
Air dates October 18, 1943 to December 30, 1955
No. of episodes 3000 [1]
Sponsor(s) General Foods, Tide
Podcast stream from Archive.org

The radio criminal serial Perry Mason, based on the novels of Erle Stanley Gardner, was broadcast on CBS Radio from 1943-1955. The series was adapted into Edge of Night which ran on television for an additional 30 years.

Adapting Perry Mason to other media[edit]

Gardner's literary success with the Perry Mason novels convinced Hollywood to try its hand, unsuccessfully, with some motion pictures. However, the Perry Mason radio show stayed on the air for 12 years. The radio series was geared more towards action than courtroom drama.

As Edge of Night (EON), it ran for another 30 years on television, but Gardner disliked the proposed daytime television version due to a lack of his own creative control,[2] ultimately withholding his endorsement of the daytime TV show, forcing the subsequent name change.

Radio cast[edit]

The actors portraying Mason switched frequently over the first three years of the show's run, starting with Bartlett Robinson, then followed by Santos Ortega and Donald Briggs, before settling on John Larkin, who played the famous attorney for the remainder of the broadcast, as well as the equivalent character on EON. Della Street, in turn, was portrayed by radio soap queens; Gertrude Warner, Jan Miner (Palmolive's "Madge" the Manicurist) and Joan Alexander (radio's Lois Lane).

(Cast in order of portrayal)[3]

Transition to TV[edit]

Radio's Mason has more in common, in all but name, with the daytime serial The Edge of Night than the prime time Perry Mason television show. As many radio serials moved to television, so was to be the destiny of Perry Mason. However, Gardner disagreed with the direction of the new show and pulled his support.[2] The sponsor, Procter & Gamble hired the writers and staff of the Perry Mason radio series, the show was retooled, and it became The Edge of Night. The characters and setting were renamed. Erle Stanley Gardner eventually aligned himself with the nighttime courtroom drama.[4]

The Edge of Night[edit]

Main article: The Edge of Night

The show was originally conceived as the daytime television version of Perry Mason. Mason's creator, Erle Stanley Gardner, was to create and write the show, but a last-minute tiff between him and the CBS network caused Gardner to pull his support from the idea. CBS insisted that Mason be given a love interest to placate daytime soap opera audiences, but Gardner flatly refused to take Mason in that direction. Gardner would eventually patch up his differences with CBS and Perry Mason would debut in prime time in 1957.

Perry Mason[edit]

Perry Mason is an American TV series that ran from 1957 to 1966. Perry Mason was played by Raymond Burr. The title character is a fictional defense attorney who originally appeared in detective fiction by Erle Stanley Gardner. The plot is essentially the same in each episode: Mason's client is put on trial for murder, but Mason is able to establish his client's innocence by dramatically demonstrating the guilt of another character.[5] The murderer nearly always breaks down and confesses to the crime in the courtroom, if not on the witness stand.

Two of the actors who at different times played Perry Mason on radio, Bartlett Robinson and John Larkin, played various other characters in several episodes of the 1957-66 Raymond Burr television version of Perry Mason.

Radio air-times[edit]

CBS Radio
Air Dates Time Slot
Oct. 18, 1943-March 31, 1944 2:45 p.m. ET
April 3, 1944-March 23, 1945 2:30 p.m. ET
March 26, 1945-Dec. 30, 1955 2:15 p.m. ET

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Larka, Robert (1979). Television's Private Eye: An Examination of Twenty Years Programming of a Particular Genre, 1949 to 1969. Christopher H. Sterling. New York: Ayer Publishing. p. p123. ISBN 0-405-11763-9. 
  2. ^ a b Totenberg, Nina (June 10, 2002). "NPR: Perry Mason".  Retrieved October 17, 2008, Listen to NPR story
  3. ^ Starr, Michael Seth (2008). "Enter Perry Mason". Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 83. ISBN 1-55783-694-9. 
  4. ^ Museum of Broadcast Communication. "Perry Mason". Retrieved October 17, 2008. 
  5. ^ Leitch, Thomas (2005). "Order in the Court". Perry Mason. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. pp. 28–29. ISBN 0-8143-3121-1.  "It is never enough for Mason to establish a reasonable doubt of his client's guilt; he must clear the client absolutely by pinning the guilt on someone else, almost always by extracting a confession."