Paul Drake (character)

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Paul Drake
Perry Mason character
Bette Davis William Hopper Perry Mason 1963.jpg
William Hopper as Paul Drake in the CBS-TV series Perry Mason, with guest star Bette Davis (1963)
Created byErle Stanley Gardner
OccupationPrivate detective

Paul Drake is a fictional private detective in the Perry Mason series of murder mystery novels by Erle Stanley Gardner. Drake is described as tall and slouching, nondescript (as suits his profession), and frequently wearing an expression of droll humor. He is friend and right-hand man to Mason, a highly successful criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles.


Allen Jenkins played a variation on the Paul Drake character, referred to as Spudsy Drake, in two 1935 films based on Gardner novels, The Case of the Curious Bride and The Case of the Lucky Legs.

Eddie Acuff took over the Spudsy role in the 1936 film The Case of the Velvet Claws.

Garry Owen played the investigator, now known simply as Paul Drake, in 1936's The Case of the Black Cat, and Joseph Crehan took over in 1937's The Case of the Stuttering Bishop.


In 1957, the CBS television network launched a Perry Mason series based on Gardner's characters. William Hopper auditioned for both the Mason and Drake roles.[a][1] "He was perfect as Drake, and we got him," recalled executive producer Gail Patrick Jackson.[2]

"Paul Drake in the Erle Stanley Gardner books was an entirely different character," Hopper said in 1962. "I play him my way. Now I'm amused to read Gardner's new books. Paul Drake now comes out like me!"[3]

"Just as Raymond Burr will always be Perry Mason, Bill Hopper will always be Paul Drake," wrote Brian Kelleher and Diana Merrill in their chronicle of the TV series. "He defined the role."[4]:65

A running gag on the series, is that although Paul Drake is a "wolf" and nearly dates every woman that appears on the series, the only woman he does not date is Della Street whom he always respectfully refers to as Hi Beautiful.

In the short-lived 1973–74 revival, The New Perry Mason, Paul Drake was played by Albert Stratton.

In the successful series of Perry Mason television films that began in 1985, the Paul Drake character was part of the back story: his son Paul Jr. served as Mason's private investigator in the first nine films. Drake's son was played by William Katt, real-life son of Barbara Hale, who played Della Street both in the TV series and the TV movies.[5]


  1. ^ Kinescopes of Hopper's audition as Perry Mason, along with Raymond Burr's auditions for Hamilton Burger and Mason, were included as special features on the 2008 "50th Anniversary Edition" Perry Mason DVD set.


  1. ^ Galbraith IV, Stuart (April 10, 2008). "Perry Mason — 50th Anniversary Edition". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2015-05-07.
  2. ^ Bawden, James (April 29, 2014). "Dream Factory Time: Gail Patrick". Classic Images. Retrieved 2015-05-07.
  3. ^ Thomas, Bob (June 16, 1962). "Perry Mason's Aide Faces a Dilemma". Oakland Tribune (Associated Press).
  4. ^ Kelleher, Brian; Merrill, Diana (1987). "William Hopper as Paul Drake". The Perry Mason TV Show Book. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 57–66. ISBN 9780312006693. Retrieved 2015-04-07.
  5. ^ "Perry Mason (1985–1993), The Perry Mason Mystery (1993–1995)". The Classic TV Archive. Retrieved 2015-05-07.