A tribute to Perry Mason's overlooked receptionist, Gertie

The erstwhile Three Stooges star later owned a cat boarding house.

Della Street will forever be remembered as Perry Mason's trusty assistant, but she was not the only woman helping the defense lawyer fight the good fight. Let's not forget the woman at the front desk in his office, Gertie.

The character Gertrude "Gertie" Lade first appeared in the Erle Stanley Gardner novel The Case of the Rolling Bones, the 15th book in the Perry Mason series, originally published in 1939. In that book, Gertie was a switchboard operator, it being the late 1930s. The romantic Gertie enjoyed nibbling on boxed chocolates while reading romance novels at her desk.

The iconic 1957-66 Perry Mason television series starring Raymond Burr often mined content from Gardner's written works, and indeed Gertie made the leap from page to screen. She pops up in less than 20 episodes out of the total 271. But Gertie is hard to forget, largely due to the distinctive looks and personality of the actress who played her, Connie Cezon.

With her large eyes and arched eyebrows, Cezon had the look of Bette Davis and Betty Boop. The blonde primarily worked in Hollywood in the Fifties, and slapstick aficionados might recognize her from The Three Stooges. In the Shemp era, Cezon appeared in a few memorable Stooges shorts, getting a particularly juicy role in Corny Casanovas, in which she played a gold-digger engaged to all three Stooges. As each arrives at her pad, she proudly declares, "I knew you were coming so I baked a cake!" You can probably guess what happens to the cake. (Spoiler alert: It's all over her face.)

Cezan in ''Corny Casanovas,'' 1952

Cezan also owns a cat in that short, which would foreshadow her future career. But more on that in a bit.

Cezan made her first appearance on Perry Mason in the fifth episode, "The Case of the Sulky Girl." Her final appearance came in season seven, with "The Case of the Woeful Widower." She would not appear in the final two seasons. In fact, "Woeful Widower" would be her final screen appearance in total.

So what happened to Cezan? Her future was in felines.

Following her Hollywood career, the California native opened a cat boarding house cleverly called Connie's Kitty Kastle. She operated the pet-sitting business until 1994, after which she retired, sold her home, and moved into an apartment. The following year, she suffered a stroke, but lived in her apartment until 2004, when she died following surgery for breast cancer.

Her few other TV roles including small parts on The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin and Death Valley Days, but Perry Mason would be her longest, most widely seen role. And she never once had to take a cake in the face for Perry.

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jdiperri 5 months ago
The band NRBQ used the cake lyrics in one of their songs!
monkbotic 16 months ago
I boarded my cat at Connie’s Kitty Kastle regularly for many years from ‘81 to her retirement in ‘94. She was a very sweet lady who lived in a modest little house with the cat boarding facility in back that was right next to the Amtrak rails in Atwater Village. She always talked about her plans to make the place resemble a real castle some day and there were large painted castle panels, some already installed and some lying in wait, ready for when that day came. She referred to her cat guests as either king or queen, sticking with the castle theme. When you picked up your cat, she always gave a hand made thank you card with her drawing of your cat!
On her phone messages she would always end them with, “…and do have a purrrrfect day…” .
I would talk with her at length when I picked up my cat, but she never mentioned her part on Perry Mason, so this is great news to me, I’ll be watching for her! She did talk about her work with The Three Stooges a little bit, but she seemed most proud of her part in “Dead Ringer” (1964). She expressed the utmost respect for Bette Davis, but was too modest to mention that they had been good friends. I’m happy to see this article about Connie and also MeTv’s dedication to the personalities, big and small, that contributed to the quality of the programs that they exhibit. Thanks!
bapark39 35 months ago
Love Perry Mason and have watched all his episodes. Wish I could watch the shows on my I phone app for MeTV.
JHP 35 months ago
Perry Mason

seen every ep - 10x - and love them all

and thank you for Peter Gunn - the pre-Mannix

all great actors - cant believe Mr Burr lost his canuck accent
39 months ago
Never cared for the "ditzy" character on Perry Mason, nor the several "kooky" or "ditzy" clients that I'm sure the writers/producers thought were cute & endearing. I thought they were tired, tiresome caricatures.
jacko3 39 months ago
.. very observant fans .. GOD Love Connie 'Gertie' Cezon ....
Jeffrey 39 months ago
Hello. I never knew that about Connie Cezon, I have seen her in Perry Mason of course, But I have also seen her in the Three Stooges shorts, including ''Corny Casanovas''.
Dario 39 months ago
That line by Connie in that Stooges short that was quoted in this story was a pun-reference to the 1950 song by Eileen Barton, "If I Knew You Were Coming(I'd've Baked A Cake), which hit No. 1 in the spring of the that year. 🎂💿🎤🎶😁
Dario Dario 37 months ago
That should be "spring of that year." 😁
MadMadMadWorld 39 months ago
MeTV got her last name misspelled 2 times in the text, after getting it correct the first 3 times! Her surname is CezOn, not CezAn.
madvincent MadMadMadWorld 39 months ago
METV misspells everything
Very rough drafts
madvincent madvincent 39 months ago
The 3 stooges misspelled in their credits too 😬
Dario MadMadMadWorld 39 months ago
That's what happens when you hire millenials to do the job of both Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers. SHEESH!!!!! 🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄 😣😣😣😣😣 😡😡😡😡😡
MadMadMadWorld 39 months ago
If I remember correctly, Connie got shot in her butt--full of tacks, in the end of it, by Joe Besser in "Rusty Romeos" (Oct. 1957) and playing them for...Stooges! An appropriate ending for her in that short!
Mark091 MadMadMadWorld 39 months ago
Connie Cezon was very funny
With the 3 Stooges in
With Joe .
Mob39 39 months ago
Never watched Perry Mason. But I loved watching Matlock, Barnaby Jones, McMillan and wife, Colombo, Matt Houston, and Starsky and hutch.
Hobble10 39 months ago
Love watching perry mason show what makes it even sweeter is the classic cars, boy I wish I had a magic wand!
Hobble10 39 months ago
Me too!!!!!
Mike 39 months ago
Fun Fact:
Connie Cezon was known for doing a near-flawless takeoff on Bette Davis - which in its turn led to Davis striking up a friendship with Connie.
In 1964, Bette Davis made a movie called Dead Ringer, in which she played twin sisters, one of whom murders the other.
Bette arranged for Connie to get the job of being her body double for the split-screen shots.
In one scene, Bette has to change clothes with the twin just after the killing;
watch closely and you can see Bette undressing Connie (with the latter's face just out of the camera's range).
Next time Dead Ringer turns up on TCM, see if you can spot it!
stephaniestavropoulos Mike 39 months ago
DR can also be seen on Amazon.
Barry22 39 months ago
She was great in her 3 Stooges appearances.
JimBozarth 39 months ago
I'm 62 years old and I still watch Perry Mason daily and during this covid I'm watching 2 grand children and they love the tune and the 2 year old it puts him to sleep for his nap 😴. Perry Mason will live on for many more years
JimBozarth 39 months ago
I have all the seasons downloaded on my laptop and when I need background sound to help me fall asleep, Perry comes to the rescue. There is something about the mono-sound (I know that’s not what it’s called) that is very calming. It also generates such a nostalgic feeling from when I was young and my parents and grandparents would watch in the evenings. Comfort food-esque!
Perhaps the words you are trying to think of, are "white noise?!?!"
Perhaps the words you are trying to think of are "white noise?" PM has a comforting feeling to you like a favorite blanket or stuffed animal that you can curl up with to help relax and send you into Slumberville, while possibly noshing on your favorite "comfort food!"
stephaniestavropoulos 39 months ago
No, not white noise. I had to Google. Monaural sound. For some weird reason, that tone is very calming along with your very correct other description!
Hogansucks1 39 months ago
A somewhat nutty/fruitcake of a actor- personality wise. Sure fits the roll ! LOL 😂 Those eyes are a dead giveaway 😇
Dario Hogansucks1 39 months ago
Now that I've read your comment...you're right! She does have a nutty look to her! 😆😆😆😆😆
MrsPhilHarris 39 months ago
Love the Gertie character. I think Me usually edits her out.
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