9 details you likely missed in the first Perry Mason episode

Changing hair color, oddly familiar horses and an Oscar record holder can be found.

Perry Mason premiered on September 21, 1957. Though it remains the pioneering pinnacle of legal dramas, the show was a risky proposition at the time. We'll get into that in a bit.

The characters would have certainly been familiar to mystery lovers, however. Erle Stanley Gardner published his first Perry Mason novel back in 1933. A series of Hollywood films quickly followed. The Case of the Restless Redhead was one of the more recent books at the time, published in 1954, which is perhaps why CBS opted to lead with it as the premiere tale in the television series.

The episode might stand out as different in some ways. Notably, Perry wears plaid for much of the episode. 

Here are some other little things you might not have noticed!

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1. This woman appeared in more Best Picture Oscar nominees than any other actor.

When Perry visits Magnum Studio midway through the mystery, pay close attention to the actors flooding out of the door. An elegant woman is the first to exit the building. She is Bess Flowers, dubbed "The Queen of the Hollywood Extras." Over her four-decade career, Flower appeared in 23 films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. That's a record. Frequently, she was uncredited. You can even find her in Rear Window, the Hitchcock classic with Raymond Burr!

2. Lee Miller pops up three times.

Lee Miller is best known to Perry Mason fans as Sgt. Brice. The police officer appears in more than 100 episode, beginning late in the first season. However, before he became Brice, Miller can be found in several roles in the series premiere! Right off the bat, spot him sitting next to the window in the opening credits. Later, he's the plainclothes cop holding in the Villa España pillowcase by the roadside late at night. Finally, he plays a courtroom spectator in the climatic scenes! He's sitting in the second row on the aisle behind the defense.

3. "Pencil Mustache Man" makes his first of many appearances.

Perry fanatics have nicknamed several of the extras who appear throughout the series in courtroom scenes. It's a pretty steady batch of extras filling the benches. Sitting in the back row by the door, behind Lee Miller, is an extra commonly referred to as "Pencil Mustache Man." He can be seen in more than 90 episodes of the show! Sometimes, he's even in restaurants, too. Alas, the man's real name is not known. Perhaps he's friends with Mr. Schwamp of Mayberry?

4. The "Restless Redhead" was the "Black-eyed Blonde" later that same season.

The casting director must have taken a shine to Whitney Blake, who plays Perry's client Evelyn Bagby in the premiere. Just 36 episodes later, late in season one, she returned to play another titular Perry client, the "Black-Eyed Blonde," Diana Reynolds. Yes, they changed her hair color. Fun fact: Blake went on to become the creator and writer of the hit Seventies sitcom One Day at a Time.

5. Perry drove a convertible.

Perry has no shortage of sweet rides. In the first episode, he drives a black 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner. It was a brand-spanking-new model at the time, first produced by Ford in 1957. It is hard to tell, but the car had a retractable hardtop. Perry leaves the top up in this episode. It was only the second car in history to be mass-produced with a retractable hardtop. Perry was cutting edge. The model only sold for two years.

6. Perry's office decor came from a hit Hepburn movie earlier that year.

The furniture in Perry's office is quite distinctive. He appears to truly appreciate horses, both in sculpture and painting. Look for a two-headed horse bas-relief hanging on the wall of the interior office in the suite. Believe it or not, the same piece is hanging in a luxury office in the 1957 film Desk Set. The Spencer Tracy-Katherine Hepburn computer comedy (yes, it is about computing in the 1950s) features an executive character named Mr. Azae who presides in a stunning office. Not only are Perry's horses on his wall, but the light fixture above Mr. Azae's desk also dangles over the table in Perry's office! Would it surprise you to learn that the same man, Lyle R. Wheeler, served as art director on both Desk Set and Perrry Mason?

7. This character was much bigger in the books.

Sgt. Holcomb (Dick Rich) is a cop with a key role in the premiere. Oddly, he never shows up again, as Lt. Tragg (Ray Collins) primarily fills that role (though both are in "The Restless Redhead"). Holcomb has a much bigger role in the Erle Stanley Gardner novels, appearing in numerous mysteries. Perhaps the show producers felt he was one character too many?

8. You can thank the Purex company for Perry Mason.

A bevy of cleaning products appears throughout the closing credits — SweetHeart soap, Blue Dutch Cleanser, Trend Liquid Detergent and Beads-o'-Bleach. All of them were products of the Purex corporation — some recently acquired. Purex had only purchased the SweetHeart brand in 1956. Yes, indeed, Purex was a key sponsor of Perry Mason. (Does that make it a soap opera?) And we are thankful for their patronage! As hard as it is to believe, Perry Mason struggled to find financial support. Why? It was the first hourlong television show in primetime with continuing character. Yes, ever. Everything on TV up to the point had been anthology series along the lines of The Alcoa Hour. Finally, Purex agreed to sponsor some of Perry Mason — oddly, only the odd-numbered episodes from 1 to 25.

9. Oops! They left Barbara Hale's mark in the shot.

When Tragg enters Perry's office, you can see a black "T" taped to the floor. This is an actor's mark for Barbara Hale, noting where Della should stand in the frame after preparing drinks. It is a mistake.

 
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daniel 2 months ago
Ya wanna know my favorite character on "Perry Mason"? It isn't Perry, Della, Paul, or a police officer. It's that "incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial" District Attorney, Hamilton Burger! I love it when he objects and hurls these insults at Perry! It's very funny to watch Burger get had, again, and again, and again...
Katina 4 months ago
This is awesome! I love Perry Mason. He made me want to become an Attorney! I have to finish school tho! Lol.
Jorgal74 5 months ago
The Sundance channel is starting Perry Mason in June... and for all of us die hard fans, that's great news!
lucirush 5 months ago
Whitney Blake was also the wife and mother in "Hazel." Starring role after Shirley Booth in that series.
lorinews 5 months ago
Not to diminish MeTV but FETV (82 on Dish) has Perry on at 1 and 2 PM PST and 5 and 6 PM PST if you want even more Perry Mason- and who doesn't?
MadMadMadWorld lorinews 5 months ago
Not me! You can O.D. on P.M.! :)
Rubyredjewel lorinews 1 month ago
I'm on the east coast. Here on FETV (Fios ch 245) Perry Mason comes on at 4-6 and then again at 8-10.
LauraD 5 months ago
The best... loved Perry Mason
jacko3 5 months ago
.. without a doubt, one of the best television shows ever made...
MadMadMadWorld jacko3 5 months ago
The distinctive and memorable theme song is also one of the best! Interestingly, that same starting year (1957) spawned two more memorable shows and their theme songs: "Maverick" and "Leave It To Beaver." All three are among the finest shows of their genre (detective, western, and sitcom), and still shown in reruns not only on MeTV, but on other networks around the world.
Hari 5 months ago
There is a reboot of Perry Mason being made now. It takes place in the 1930's as when the original books took place.
lucirush Hari 5 months ago
It might be interesting to the younger generation. People my age recognize only Raymond Burr as the REAL Perry Mason!!
LauraD Hari 5 months ago
I am not too fond of remakes.. however if they are actually keeping it an the era of 1930's at least say good luck.
MadMadMadWorld lucirush 5 months ago
Just as George Reeves is recognized as the only Superman! The Adventures of Superman would be a great addition to MeTV, as an action-packed sci-fi adventure series. Wish that show, The Donna Reed Show, and other memorable '50s series would be added instead of the tired, same old '70s Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days, and Mama's Family series. I love the '50s and '60s shows (and theme songs) much more than almost all of the '70s shows.
Jon MadMadMadWorld 20 days ago
I think SUPERMAN is currently being rerun, along w/ BATMAN and THE GREEN HORNET, on MeTV's sister channel H&I (Heroes & Icons).
MadMadMadWorld Jon 18 days ago
Which I don't get on my cable system, and I never heard of H&I before you mentioned it. So it does me no good!
CraigGustafson 5 months ago
Lieutenant Tragg replaced Sergeant Holcomb in the novels. Holcomb was a bullying lunkhead. Tragg was written to give Mason a worthier adversary. In his earliest appearances, he's the Perry Mason of the homicide squad.
Kimberly 5 months ago
Hi I love this program I watched it with my grandma back in the day,it's so nostalgic for me.
Asil 5 months ago
All that needs to be said is I love Perry Mason. Not so much for Ironsides.
Wiseguy Asil 5 months ago
Ironside - no s.
MaryHelen 5 months ago
alas! you forgot to mention whitney blake was the mom in the comedy series hazel!
NancyPeters MaryHelen 5 months ago
Also, Whitney Blake was the real life Mom of Meredith Baxter Birney!
Wiseguy MaryHelen 5 months ago
Just because something isn't mentioned doesn't mean they "forgot." They don't have room to mention every little fact, especially if it's irrelevant. Also, Hazel is on Antenna TV. Why mention the competition if you don't have to?
MaryHelen Wiseguy 5 months ago
nope tey frgot doesnt mattere different station these are reruns!!!!
Jon NancyPeters 20 days ago
So she was a real Mrs. Baxter at one time. :)
SteveThames 5 months ago
Luv the show and the back story; would luv to see discussion of the fern fatales; I’m going with joi Lansing from a season 1 episode; my antenna literally melted 😳😁
WitchyWoman1 5 months ago
I love Perry Mason! I grew up watching the show and am delighted it is back on the air. My husband and I are glued to the screen whenever there are long/wide shots of the cars. We have fun trying to identify the make model and year, especially of Perry's Lincolns.
LadyBug2020 5 months ago
I have been watching Perry Mason, at night, for over ten years. The Perry Mason show is my go to cocktail before I go to sleep.
lucirush LadyBug2020 5 months ago
Mine, too, Ladybug! And my wakeup call in the morning!!!
Katina LadyBug2020 4 months ago
mine too!
Hilary 5 months ago
One other bit of trivia ,if you watch 2 other CBS shows-“Gunsmoke” and “Have Gun Will Travel”, listen carefully and you will recognize much of the background music-as it is what was played during the early episodes of my fav “Perry Mason’. CBS must have had a tight budget and shared.
Wiseguy Hilary 5 months ago
CBS had what was known as "The CBS Music Library." Anytime a score was composed for a series episode (be it Gunsmoke, Perry Mason, Twilight Zone, etc.) it could be then reused on that program or any other CBS owned program-usually without crediting the original composer. Often on Perry Mason you can hear music composed for The Twilight Zone including the pilot episode "Where Is Everybody?" on Mason episodes "the Watery Witness" (broadcast just a week after the Zone pilot), "the Frantic Flyer" and "the Wary Wildcatter." Music composed for "The Invaders" (starring Agnes Moorehead) can be heard in "the Glamorous Ghost." The final season of The Wild Wild West and the first season of Hawaii Five-0 (1968-69) shared much music many times on the bumpers which ended acts on both series.
wsl 5 months ago
We on the west coast love to watch Perry Mason, but the episodes are broadcast at 11:30 pm PST and it's difficult to stay up and watch it. We hope that at some point Perry will be shown at a more reasonable time in the evening so those who have to get up early for work, can enjoy watching it, too. 😊
terioake wsl 5 months ago
I hope they do the same for you out west as we have in Michigan. Perry comes on at 9 a.m. EST and again with a different episode at 11:30 p.m. EST
918Mama wsl 5 months ago
Here in good old Oklahoma, which is in the central time zone, Perry comes on at 10:30. We find it hard to miss Perry but if we stay up for the entire show, it’s hard to get up for work the next day. Why don’t they remove Hogan’s Heroes from the lineup and put Perry on at 9:00pmCT ? Twilight Zone could be on at 10:30pmCT and Hitchcock could follow.

I’d also like to see Mannix replaced with something else for those nights I’m up that late. Maybe MeTV would consider my suggestions? Thanks.
Jorgal74 918Mama 5 months ago
Remove Hogans Heroes? You must've bumped your head 🤣🤣 DVR's work great if something is on at an inconvenient time, record! Just a suggestion.
Katina 918Mama 4 months ago
noooo I love Mannix! I'd like them to swap out Barnaby Jones with McMillian & Wife
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