Perry Mason was a CBS legal drama series that ran from September 21, 1957, to May 22, 1966. The title character, played by Raymond Burr, is a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who first appeared in Erle Stanley Gardner’s detective books. Gardner’s stories were used as inspiration for many of the episodes.
Perry Mason was the first weekly one-hour television series created in Hollywood, and it has gone on to become one of the most popular and profitable legal dramas of all time. It was only nominated for one Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Dramatic Series in its first season, but it swiftly rose to become one of television’s top five shows.
Burr received two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Barbara Hale received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Mason’s confidential secretary Della Street.
Perry Mason and Aaron Burr were named Favorite Series and Favorite Male Performer, respectively, in the first two TV Guide Award reader polls. In 1960, the American Bar Association presented the series with the first Silver Gavel Award for television drama.
Perry Mason has been broadcast in syndication in the United States and abroad since its cancellation, and the entire series has been released on Region 1 DVD. Netflix subscribers voted Raymond Burr as their favorite actor in a 2014 poll, with Barbara Hale coming in at number seven. The New Perry Mason, a 15-episode revival of the series in 1973 with a new cast, received mixed reviews.
In 1985, Burr reprised his role as Mason in a popular series of Perry Mason television movies, which aired on NBC. In total, 30 films were made, with Burr starring in 26 of them before his death in 1993. The production team for Perry Mason worked hard to ensure that the show was technically correct and appropriate for a legal and judicial audience.
Producer Ben Brady practiced law in New York before entering show business, story editor Gene Wang went to law school in Florida, and executive producer Gail Patrick Jackson studied law for two years before becoming an actor.