6 little differences you never noticed in the Perry Mason pilot episode
"The Moth-Eaten Mink" was filmed months before the other episodes — and it shows.
The first episode of Perry Mason was not the first episode of Perry Mason. The masterful mystery series premiered on September 21, 1957, with "The Case of the Restless Redhead." Three months later, in the midst of its first season, the show aired "The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink." This unassuming episode holds quite an important place in the history of Perry Mason. The cast and crew made "Moth-Eaten Mink" half a year before the other episodes. This was actually the pilot episode of Perry Mason.
The cast and crew set about production of "Moth-Eaten Mink" in October 1956, nearly a full year prior to the show's debut. (To put this in perspective, "Restless Redhead" filmed in late March 1957.)
The gap in time is evident on the screen. There are many subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences. Overall, the show carries more of a film-noir feel, right down to Perry's fleeting fondness for wearing a stereotypical detective's hat.
Let's take a look at some other interesting differences from the other episodes you might have missed!
1. Perry doesn't have car.
Perry Mason showcases a fleet of beautiful vehicles. Both GM and Ford were sponsors. In "The Case of the Restless Redhead," the series premiere as you remember, Perry pulls up in a gorgeous 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner. He drives a convertible white Buick the next episode. So imagine how weird it must have been when the pilot aired in the middle of the season and suddenly Perry is taking cabs everywhere. That's right, he doesn't drive in "Moth-Eaten Mink." He takes a taxi everywhere!
2. Perry and Della hang out in a different restaurant.
Perry and Della love to enjoy a business meal in a restaurant. Clay's later become a favorite haunt for the legal eagles. In the pilot, however, they hang in a different joint, a more upscale place named Morey's. The waiters here wear white coats (with "Morey's Restaurant" embroidered over the breast). It does seem pretty fancy for day-to-day noshing, so perhaps they picked a cheap place moving forward?
3. Perry has a shorter hair.
In the pilot, Perry has a closely trimmed head of hair. You can see here how much shaggier he got in the subsequent episodes. Hey, pal, this is the Fifties! What are you, a hippie?
4. Paul is not quite a blond.
Speaking of hair, check out Paul's darker locks. He was practically a silver fox in later episodes.
5. There is a different lamp next to the sofa in Perry's office.
Perry's office remains one of the most iconic — and enviable — workplaces in TV history. With its abstract horse paintings, works of sculpture and leather-bound legal tomes, it demonstrates the success and education of the occupant. Take a close look at the lamp atop the end table that sits between his sofa and door. It has multiple orbs in "Moth-Eaten Mink." In subsequent episodes, the lamp has a spherical body.
6. It was the final acting role of Kay Faylen, first wife of Regin Philbin.
Perry's client (well, one of them) in "Moth-Eaten Mink" is Dixie Dayton, played by Kay Faylen, seen here. Oddly, this would be the final screen role for Faylen. Her father, Frank Faylen, played the dad on The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis. That is not her only connection to TV history — she also married Regis Philbin! Faylen and Philbin were married from 1955–68 and had a son and a daughter together.