Perry Mason's ''Candy Queen'' was in Barbara Hale's first-ever movie decades earlier
Hale and Nancy Gates have a history together going back to their youth.
Barbara Hale's career trajectory as an actor involved a lot of luck and being in the right place at the right time. The Chicago girl moved to Hollywood in 1943 — and landed a film role within 24 hours! Within her first day in Tinseltown, the former model was whisked onto the set of Gildersleeve's Bad Day.
The movie was a sequel to The Great Gildersleeve film series, a hit comedy based on a popular NBC radio program. One of the earliest spin-offs, The Great Gildersleeve expanded upon Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, a character from Fibber McGee and Molly. A sort of predecessor to Family Affair (not to mention Melissa & Joey and The Mick as two recent knockoffs), the plot revolved around Gildersleeve taking care of his orphaned niece and nephew, Marjorie and Leroy Forrester.
Anyway, Gildersleeve's Bad Day featured a newly arrived Hale. Alas, she did not play Marjorie. She was uncredited, a mere "Girl at Party" alongside Marjorie. Hale had one line in the movie, but it was enough to launch her career.
Here's where it gets interesting. Nancy Gates portrayed Majorie. The teenager's first credited role had been as Majorie in The Great Gildersleeve. She had recently turned 17 when the flick hit theaters. Hale was 21 at the time. Jump forward two decades and you will find Gates and Hale together again. They reteamed on Perry Mason, of course.
Perry Mason represented Gates three times as a client! You can find her seeking legal help in "The Case of the Crooked Candle," "The Case of the Woeful Widower" and "The Case of the Candy Queen." As Della Street, Hale was right alongside to help prove Gates' characters' innocence every time.
The funny thing is, Gildersleeve's Bad Day had been a courtroom comedy with the title character on jury duty. It all comes back to the courtroom.
That is not the only weird parallel between Gates and Hale.
After her slim screen debut in Gildersleeve's Bad Day, Hale immediately landed a far meatier role. Months later in 1943, she scored a huge gig next to Frank Sinatra in Higher and Higher. That would be her first credited screen role, cuddling up with Ol' Blue Eyes.
Well, Gates also played the female lead in a Sintra film, 1954's Suddenly. From the courtroom to the Chairman of the Board to the courtroom again — Gates and Hale likely had stories to share.