Perry Mason on ME TV

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Post by Wildcat445 on Sun Dec 15, 2013 2:09 pm

ME TV is the greatest thing since TV Land 25 years ago. It's about all I watch. Like lots of other things, they just don't make them like they used to.

I watch Perry Mason each evening at 10:30, regular as clockwork. My mom hated the Della Street character, so we did not get to watch Perry Mason much when I was a kid. I sure have been enjoying it as an old guy, I can tell you that. The acting is kinda hokey by modern standards. Lots of actors who grew to prominence appeared on that show. Denver Pyle, who later played Briscoe Darling on the Andy Griffith Show and also played Uncle Jesse on the Dukes of Hazzard is a frequent bad guy on Perry Mason. The actor who played grouchy old Ben Weaver on Andy Griffith is a frequent actor on Perry Mason.

The shows currently on are from 1961. There are recurrent themes in Perry Mason. Lots of blackmail and blackmailers. Somebody gets murdered and someone gets accused of murder. Perry Mason always wins. Hamilton Burger always loses. Lt Tragg is always wrong. The main witness for the prosecution does not have clean hands. Everybody is wealthy. And......EVERYBODY smokes cigarettes. The only characters I have never seen smoking are Della Street and Hamilton Burger. In real life, Dennis Hopper (Paul Drake) and William Talman (Hamilton Burger) were chain smokers. Raymond Burr was an avidly anti-smoking, yet he lights up and takes a puff. I wonder if a cigarette manufacturer was a sponsor of the show?

The most interesting thing about Perry Mason show is the automobiles. In the 1961 shows, Perry Mason drives a fleet of cars. 1959 Ford Sunliner, 1960 Ford Sunliner, and a 1961 Ford Sunliner. Several different cars of each year, since the license numbers are different. Paul Drake drives his traditional black Ford Thunderbird. Same license number. Then it gets interesting. In all the 1961 shows I have seen thus far, the bad guy, the "who done it" guy has driven an Astro Blue Metallic, 1961 Buick Electra 225 convertible. Genuine California black plates with yellow lettering. The same car in every episode. (These shows are filmed in monochrome, so the Astro Blue is an educated guess.) The same car, with the same license number. Some of the characters in the episode will drive Invicta hardtops or LeSabre station wagons as well. Lt. Tragg is seen in one episode coming to the crime scene in an Invicta four door hardtop. Obviously, Buick was also a sponsor of Perry Mason. The only Buicks I have seen other than in the background have been 1961's. The credits at the end of the show always list Ford Motor Company as providing the cars for the show.

Last winter, they showed Perry Mason shows from my favorite year of all time, 1963. That was just an interesting year on many fronts, but I digress. In 1963, Buick was the major sponsor of Perry Mason. Perry Mason abandoned his white Lincoln four door convertible, and drove a white '63 Electra 225 convertible. All the characters drove Buicks, 1961's and 1963's mostly. Occasionally, older Buicks were seen, but mostly in passing or background shots. Even the cops drove Buicks. Lt. Tragg and Sgt Andy Anderson actually drove up to a crime scene in an Electra four door hardtop. Cops in real life never drove Electra patrol cars. Even the regular police cruisers on the show were either LeSabre Custom four door hardtops or four door sedans with the chrome over the doors. And equipped with full wheel covers and white wall tires. Buick apparently did not want the brand cheapened by showing real police livery on the show, and they did not figure that some old guy who was a Buick fan would critique their work 50 years hence. The only character on the show who never drove a Buick was the Paul Drake character. It is quite possible that the producers of the show figured that the traditional black T-Bird was such a part of the Paul Drake character that they exempted the character from driving a Buick. Oddly, I have yet to see a 1962 Buick featured on a Perry Mason episode. Wonder what's up with that? The credits at the end of the show list Buick Motor Division, General Motors Corporation as the supplier of automobiles for the show. Wonder what happened to Ford and the Perry Mason show in 1963.

I haven't seen many 1964 episodes of Perry Mason, but the few I have seen has Perry returning to a Lincoln convertible, the cops drove 1963 and 1964 Fords, and Buick is still a major contributor of cars. The bad guys still drive Buick. We have to remember that Bonnie and Clyde drove Ford V-8's, just to be fair. A really different feature for the time on Perry Mason shows was the cars had the front and back glass still in them and the bumpers and chrome trim was not dulled. The side glass was rolled down in all cases, perhaps this is why they used so many convertibles and hardtops in the show. It was fairly standard practice in that time to remove all the glass and paint the chrome on cars so it would not glare in the camera lens.

Regards

WC







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Post by 75X11 on Sun Dec 15, 2013 3:58 pm

If I remember correctly, Parliament cigarettes was a sponsor of the show. If you notice that there are sometimes cuts made to the show that are video cuts as opposed to film editing, those were the spots where a commercial was not inserted, but was a part of the show. They had to be removed for syndication.
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Post by Dr. Radio on Sun Dec 15, 2013 11:18 pm

You have waaaaay too much time on your hands WC! Shocked 

Just kidding! I love detail items like this for discussion.

RE: Smoking. I heard somewhere that statistics indicated something like 60% of the adult population smoked in 1960. I don't know what percent it is now, but obviously no where near that number!

RE: Automobile sponsors/suppliers. It's like any other vendor or supplier. Who ever wins the "bid" gets in. Buick willing to provide more cars with less hassle? Looks like FOMOCO is out of the picture for that season....

I think these early shows were a unique exception. You could have 2 different brands competing for attention by sharing the stage. Even just a few years later in the mid to late '60s and continuing thru the '70s, if a sponsor of the show was contributing, then they were the ONLY one "allowed". So in other words, if Chrysler was a corporate sponsor of the show, then only Chryslers were predominately "displayed" and you've have the bad guys driving Mopars, Mopars in the parking lot, Mopars being driven by the good guys, cops, etc.

There are some exceptions, just for variety, other makes and models would come into play just for realism. Hawaii 5-0 comes to mind where you'd see everything from Pintos to Chevelles to Marquis in the same episode.

Here's a question for you...............


I understand the big deal about California "Black Plates" in car collecting, but what year did "Blue Plates" start in the land of fruit and nuts? I saw an episode of Adam-12 and an "unmarked" Police green Plymouth had the blue plates... I was bit surprised with that not having the black plates...
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Post by 75X11 on Mon Dec 16, 2013 6:44 am

A few years after Perry Mason, William Talman made a anti smoking PSA after he found that his lung cancer was likely terminal. You can see it on YouTube. Speaking of car placement on tv programs, nearly each program produced by Quinn Martin had only new Fords and almost all used Fords and every so often a used other make. I remember "The FBI" (in color) was sponsored by Ford and always showed a current model T-bird tooling through washington at the close, in addition to the commercials.
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Post by exray on Mon Dec 16, 2013 7:37 pm

Dr. Radio wrote:

I understand the big deal about California "Black Plates" in car collecting, but what year did "Blue Plates" start in the land of fruit and nuts? I saw an episode of Adam-12 and an "unmarked" Police green Plymouth had the blue plates... I was bit surprised with that not having the black plates...

Apparently 1969. Check out this link.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle_registration_plates_of_California
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Post by Wildcat445 on Mon Dec 16, 2013 7:57 pm

Thank you for that information. I am not familiar enough with "the land of the fruits and nuts (!)" to be sure. I know black plates are the big deal. I had forgotten about blue plates.

Regards

WC

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Post by Wildcat445 on Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:37 pm

Last evening was the case of "The Tainted Trademark". The accused murderer was the actor who later played Lars, the owner of a sawmill on "Little House on the Prairie." I mentioned that I had not seen an episode of Perry Mason with a '62 Buick in it. This episode, dated 1961, had the accused driving a '62 Ford Custom and his girlfriend/squeeze/co-conspirator driving a '62 Electra 225 convertible. The cops had new '62 Ford cop cars, Sgt Andy Anderson drove a '62 Ford Galaxie four door hardtop and Perry Mason drove his '61 Lincoln four door convertible. This episode may have been during the 1962 season of Perry Mason, broadcast in the latter part of 1961. That would make it after September, when the new cars are traditionally introduced.

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WC

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Post by 75X11 on Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:10 pm

The show had a few older actors as cast members at different times. Kenneth MacDonald played the judge many times. You might recognize him from his appearances in several 3 stooges shorts. George E. Stone appeared as a court clerk . He had played Chester Morris' sidekick in the Boston Blackie series of films.
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Post by Wildcat445 on Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:43 pm

I forgot to mention. The accused not only had a new Ford to drive, but he also had a Philco 38-3 radio that got shown in several different shots.

The "Twilight Zone" had lots of famous actors on it, too. It comes on before Perry Mason here.

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WC

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Post by 75X11 on Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:16 pm

The Twilight Zone was a prestige engagement for any actor. for the new ones, it showed they had arrived. For the old, it showed they still had it. The material was always that good, but it had to be put across by a pro.
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