Raymond Burr rallied the cast of Perry Mason to put on a show to raise money for a local school

They rehearsed for the charity show between shooting their Perry Mason scenes.

Everett Collection

Perry Mason was a no-nonsense criminal defense lawyer who stopped at nothing to prove his clients' innocence. While both Perry Mason and Raymond Burr had hearts of gold, Raymond Burr's was much more on display. Case in point: the Ramona School.

The 1994 book Raymond Burr: A Film, Radio and Television Biography by Ona L. Hill describes Burr's drive to improve his community. The Ramona School, a local school in Los Angeles, was in trouble. "During filming of a Perry Mason episode," the book says, "Raymond heard about the school needing money for repairs. He recruited the rest of the cast in order to do a play to raise funds."

Still juggling their shooting schedule, the cast found time to help out the school. "The cast rehearsed The Happiest Millionaire between filming their scenes. The play was put on for two nights, netting $17,000 for the group of nuns. The cast worked for free. The only money used was for the expenses of putting on the show."

The book doesn't give the year that this happened, but a 1962 issue of the Liverpool Echo mentions the show. If we adjust inflation from 1962, that means the cast raised around $175,000 for the school in today's money.

The Echo article notes that the nuns never forgot what Burr did for them and their school. "Faithfully every Saturday evening, the nuns have an early meal so that they will be free in time for the Perry Mason show on television."

Until — the unthinkable happened. A special drama presentation replaced Perry Mason! This was inexcusable to the nuns, who got together to address this grave injustice. "Normally the nuns are only allowed to make one telephone call a week," the article said, "but the Mother Superior decreed that an exception should be made on this special occasion. Two lines formed in front of the two coin-in-the-slot telephones in the school as each nun, her 15 cents clutched firmly in her hand, waited her turn to place a personal call to CBS Television and complain about the absence of Perry Mason."

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13 Comments

George58 5 months ago
Great story. Kudos to to Raymond Burr & cast for doing this. I wonder if the nuns complaints worked? I do have a question METV. Why is the Perry Mason shown at 11:30pm (Perry Mason LOL) 65min? It's on at 11:30pm & ends at 12:35am? Why the extra 5min? Is it because there are more commercials? Just curious. I read an article where it stated that some Perry Mason episodes ran longer than others & when shown in syndication , some stations edited them to fit on a 60min time slot.
Wiseguy70005 George58 5 months ago
All the episodes within a season are around the same length. As years went by the episodes got shorter. Sometimes higher-rated series get extended so they can show more commercials during the high-rated series. If you ever notice today a network program running a minute longer than usual it's to show another minute of commercials sold at a higher rate. The following program is shown at a minute shorter time.
Runeshaper 5 months ago
Raymond Burr and the rest of the cast were AWESOME both on and off the screen.

Also, those are some really cool nuns.
justjeff 5 months ago
Side note: I always find it funny to see money amounts "adjusted for inflation". What the money would be in today's inflated dollars is unimportant. We all know that if you made $17,000 in 1962, you couldn't buy squat now. The purchasing power of the US dollar is pennies compared to back then...
cperrynaples justjeff 5 months ago
Yes, and have you noticed in most of their estimates they simply multiply by 10? It's not that cut and dry, people!
JeffPaul76 justjeff 5 months ago
Yeah, Chuck Woolery in his commercial for United States Money Reserve, states that a contestant on Wheel Of Fortune, in 1976, won $12,450 in cash and prizes, & then he opens up his wall safe, where he has $12,450 in cash, & $12,450 in gold and says that cash is worth less now than it was in 1976, and the gold is worth 10 times the amount or $135.000 as of the taping of the commercial.
justjeff JeffPaul76 5 months ago
Well, he's not totally incorrect. The price of an ounce of gold in 1976 was $124.80. The current price is $1923.69. However, according to one website $1 in 1976 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $5.40 today... so $12,450 in 1976 dollars would buy you what $67,178.80 buys today... and about 100 ounces of gold in 1976 would cost $192,369.00 in today's market...
PhilK justjeff 5 months ago
It is important because, as you know, $17,000 would not go far today on building repairs, but $175,000 would. It is to give you a sense of what could be done with an equivalent amount of money in modern days.
teire 5 months ago
Great story, love that there are nuns in it.
Snickers 5 months ago
What a cool thing for the cast to do.
Suzies1952 5 months ago
What show was it that they replaced perry mason for? I guess they put Perry’s mason back on?
cperrynaples Suzies1952 5 months ago
Many times a show would be preempted for what they used to call a "spectacular"! Perry proably came back the following week!
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