Do you remember these six actors who filled in for Raymond Burr on Perry Mason?
Mason's clients were in good hands when Raymond Burr couldn't be in court.
Though it was one of the first regularly-scheduled, hour-long legal dramas in television history, Perry Mason still holds up when it comes to courtroom dramas today.
The character will forever be connected to Raymond Burr, though others have played the role of the Southern California attorney.
In the series that ran from 1957-1966, Mason rarely lost a case and Burr rarely missed work. However, there were a couple of episodes Burr needed some other well-known Hollywood names to pinch-hit for him when he was recovering from various surgeries throughout the series.
Here are six actors who stepped in for Raymond Burr on Perry Mason.
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1. Bette Davis - The Case of Constant Doyle
Bette Davis was the first to fill in for Burr while he recovered from surgery in 1962. "The Case of Constant Doyle" sees Davis get special guest billing, playing the titular role in the episode. She seeks Perry's help in a case involving a young man somehow connected to her late husband. She reaches out to Perry for help. Burr's only appearance in the episode is brief one from a hospital bed. Davis' career was highlighted in the late '30s and early '40s with several Academy Awards for Best Actress. She had highs and lows during her career, one that spanned over five decades, but her one stop on Perry Mason was certainly a high point.
2. Michael Rennie - The Case of the Libelous Locket
Burr is featured once again from a hospital bed and his presence is small in this season six episode, as '40s British film star Michael Rennie steps in. One of the first big breaks of his career came in the 1945 musical I'll Be Your Sweetheart. Eventually, Hollywood came calling and Rennie was cast in the 1950 film The Black Rose which starred Orson Welles. He starred in the 1951 move The Day the Earth Stood Still. In "The Case of the Libelous Locket," Rennie plays a college professor named Edward Lindley, who helps one of his students after she admits she killed a man. Talk about an odd day at the job!
3. Hugh O'Brian - The Case of the Two-faced Turnabout
In this episode, Burr is out of his hospital bed and moving around, but is still only in a couple of scenes. In his place this time is Hugh O'Brian, playing the role of attorney Bruce Jason. With his stardom success from The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, O'Brian was a known name by the time of his Perry Mason appearance. In this plot twist style episode, O'Brian's character ends up being a material witness in his own case!
4. Walter Pidgeon - The Case of the Surplus Suitor
For the fourth straight episode in season six, a pinch-hitter was needed for Burr. Stepping up in "The Case of the Surplus Suitor" was Walter Pidgeon, known for his success in the film industry during the 1940s. He has two Academy Award nominations for best actor in Mrs. Miniver (1942) and Madame Curie (1943). In this episode, Pidgeon plays attorney Sherman Hatfield, who defends the niece of another attorney that's being blackmailed. Hatfield calls Mason, further inquiring about his new client. This allows for Burr to once again appear on screen in a limited roll.
5. Mike Connors - The Case of the Bullied Bowler
In this season eight episode which first aired in 1964, Raymond Burr wasn't seen on screen. Mike Conners had success in several films of the mid 1950s. Prior to his one episode fill-in on Perry Mason, which he played an attorney on vacation who ends up getting a case, Connors could be seen in The Silent Service and The Californians. He also starred in the one-season organized crime show Tightrope! The crime aspect of Connors' acting career continued in this episode of Perry Mason, where his character, Joe Kelly, challenges a corrupt Duchess causing trouble for a local bowling alley. A few years later, Connors landed his career-defining role on Mannix.
6. Barry Sullivan - The Case of the Thermal Thief
Next up, and still in season eight is "The Case of the Therman Thief," and actor Barry Sullivan. Sullivan played opposite Kirk Douglas in the 1952 drama The Bad and the Beautiful, a movie in which the aforementioned Walter Pidgeon also appeared in. Sullivan played Sheriff Pat Garrett for two seasons in The Tall Man, following his lead role as Capt. David Scott in the one season drama series Harbourmaster. In Perry Mason, Sullivan's character has to figure out who stole some expensive jewelry, a theft that led to a deadly outcome.
SEE MORE: 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.
Not "several" Academy Awards -- TWO.
"Rennie was cast in the 1950 film The Black Rose which starred Orson Welles."
Starring Tyrone Power AND Orson Welles.
"In this season eight episode which first aired in 1964, Raymond Burr wasn't seen on screen. Mike Conners had success in several films of the mid 1950s. Prior to his one episode fill-in on Perry Mason, which he played an attorney on vacation who ends up getting a case, Connors could be seen in The Silent Service and The Californians. He also starred in the one-season organized crime show Tightrope! The crime aspect of Conners' acting career continued in this episode of Perry Mason, where his character, Joe Kelly, challenges a corrupt Duchess causing trouble for a local bowling alley. A few years later, Conners landed his career-defining role on Mannix."
You've got it both as Connors and "Conners"; for the record, it's CONNORS (though, also for the record, it was actually Krekor Ohanian).
He kept his shooter on his waist, just above his butt crack.
It's on YouTube.
Perhaps she was foreshadowing Esterhaus?
I’ve been watching the Perry Mason movies and I started losing interest quickly. For some bizarre reason they are not in L.A. but in Denver. Miss Paul Drake, Burger and Tragg.
BTW, RIP Louise Fletcher, excellent actress. Who could forget Nurse Ratched. She was a defendant in a Perry Mason episode. She was also Kai Winn in Star Trek Deep Space Nine.