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.

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The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink | Perry Mason Episode Deep Dive
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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!

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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.

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Salem 26 months ago
Perry Mason is the best show for repeats of all time, even once you have seen the episode, I watch it again and again to better understand the outcome
JeffPaul76 31 months ago
Concerning #6, about Frank Faylen, he played the Dad in The Many Loves, (not Lives), of Dobie Gillis.
rraynard 32 months ago
My wife says I'm a PM addict. Because I watch it twice a day 😀
DethBiz 33 months ago
And #7...no mention of Perry's illegitimate brother Grimes and ne-me-sees.
VenturaCapitalist 34 months ago
Frank Faylen (Herbert T. Gillis) was also in a lot of Noir movies.
Can anybody explain the wall treatment in Perry's office?? Is is some kind of wood, with big black blotches?
frances3agape 38 months ago
I can hardly wait to alert my BF about this!
She is such a huge PM fan and is watching this as we speak.
She watches MeTV a LOT but I cannot convince her to sign up for the emails.
AgingDisgracefully 38 months ago
Regis Philbin's real-life father-in-law was Dobie Gillis's TV father?
I'm having a David Crosby, "Oh wow, man. My head is going to explode!" moment.
(In fairness, this happens a lot.)
WOW - that is a Biggie trivia tidbit
MrsPhilHarris 38 months ago
Perry became a better dresser after a while.
Pacificsun MrsPhilHarris 38 months ago
So did Paul Drake!

But I digress 😉!
MrsPhilHarris Pacificsun 38 months ago
He did! Got snappier sports jackets.
Pacificsun MrsPhilHarris 38 months ago
What actually happens, is that the more popular a Show becomes, the budget increases. Thus more wardrobe variety! Sometimes the designer gets publicity in the credits, like Botany 500 for men's clothing.
MrsPhilHarris Pacificsun 38 months ago
Oh yes I remember seeing Botany 500 on old shows.
JeffPaul76 MrsPhilHarris 31 months ago
And he (Raymond Burr), Perry Mason, put on a LOT OF WEIGHT over the course of the series. He was pretty thin when it started, and a LOT HEAVIER by the end.
Filmnoirfan 38 months ago
Definitely one of the best episodes in the series
MikefromJersey 38 months ago
Excellent job, MeTV crew, now you are cooking with gas. You guys should sign your name.
When the author is noted as just "staff" it sounds as if you are serfs on a British manor
estate. It's also interesting to learn the styles and interests of whomever is penning
a given piece. For instance I would assume a Dobie Gillis fan had a part in writing
this Perry Mason bit.
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I did Hallowe’en comedies last night. Fell asleep to Abbot & Costello, woke up a few hours later to Jack Benny and finally this morning woke up to Burns & Allen. I had on OTR Halloweenholidaze. It has comedies, lots of mysteries, Inner Sanctum, Quiet Please, big band, etc. Lot’s of fun. Reminds me of when I was a kid a radio station played otr shows for 4 hours ever night. Love otr.
Love Phil Harris, an early rapper - That's what I like about the south.
Lol I never thought of him that way! 😀
JeffPaul76 MikefromJersey 31 months ago
Also called a Root Beer Float.
Srowsey 38 months ago
Did they ever show the receptionist Girdie in any episode?
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frances3agape texasluva 37 months ago
1) When I visit my elderly neighbors across the street, 90 pct of the time he is watching the GRIT channel. Most of the year it was always either Gunsmoke or Arness' How the West Was Won series.
2) Almost mentioned to you several times, my younger brother who has lived in Houston 20 years is visiting us
texasluva frances3agape 37 months ago
I am in the next county over near Dallas. Plano In Collin County. I am not a real Texan per say. Spent most of my life in San Diego. My work brought me here in 2004. So I'm now a 💁‍♂️ Texasluva. Good to have your brother visit.....
frances3agape texasluva 37 months ago
Jim doesn't like the heat, but says he can live anywhere as long as his family is there (as most of would)
10 years before meeting Hubby, he worked for a year or so in Dallas/Ft Worth. He HAD to return home so we could have our destined meeting!
Delmo MikefromJersey 29 months ago
I have the whole run of Perry Mason books. They have not been updated.
Tuckerpete 38 months ago
Regis Philbin not: 6. It was the final acting role of Kay Faylen, first wife of Regin Philbin.
Jeremy 38 months ago
I love this episode, I think, because of the ending where the crooked police officer threatens to kill Perry in cold blood in Perry's office when Perry got too close to the truth. "All they gotta do is half-believe me and...I'm home."
Mike Jeremy 38 months ago
Don't forget the real ending:
When Tragg shoots the Crooked Cop, and Mason says he'll phone for an ambulance:
Tragg: "Don't hurry."
I've read that this line was one reason that CBS didn't want this episode to be the MASON premiere.
Jeremy Mike 38 months ago
Oh, I remembered all right. I have all of the episodes on DVD.
CraigGustafson Mike 36 months ago
Read the book from which this episode was adapted. If you remember that "shot while resisting arrest" is detective movie/book code for executing somebody, the ending is jaw-dropping.
demode93 38 months ago
Keep them Perry Mason quizzes coming
cperrynaples 38 months ago
This episode will be on Wednesday at 11:30 pm!
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texasluva MrsPhilHarris 37 months ago
It's addictive. Played a couple last night and had to turn off because of sleep. The best way to find them on Youtube
1. Just type in What's My Line- A drop down box will show by years. 1952-1965 or so. Click on year and there will be a list you can cursor down to the one you want.
2. Put star name in along with WML and it should pull up the ones they are on. Some are on 2-3 times through the years.
Last night I did (2) of Fred MacMurray 1953, 1959 and (1) of Edward G. Robinson, 1953. Also the Trap kids singing group. Just about any star you can name back then will be on one time or another. Start with your favorite year or actors. Most are full shows. The star will be 3/4ths the way in or so. I've seen some in the past that were so funny. It's been a year or until last night to watch them. Also you can make a play list out of ones you like. Happy surfing.
🤣 That is sooo true!
MrsPhilHarris texasluva 37 months ago
Thanks! I am going to do that. Sounds like fun.
frances3agape texasluva 37 months ago
THANKS for sharing, Tex!
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