You can find three actors who played Perry Mason in 'Perry Mason'

Raymond Burr was not the only Perry portrayer on the show!

Raymond Burr is most associated with Perry Mason, thanks to playing the ace attorney on television for 36 years, across nine seasons and 26 TV movies. But is he is hardly the only the actor to fill the role.

Erle Stanley Gardner introduced the character with his 1933 novel The Case of the Velvet Claws. Hollywood quickly came calling to adapt the pulp hero. The Case of the Howling Dog premiered in theaters a year later, with Warren William as Perry Mason. Dubbed "The King of Pre-Code" due to his ubiquity onscreen in the early sound era of the 1930s, William served as Perry in four films. Ricardo Cortez and Donald Woods would both briefly step in as the lead later that decade.

During wartime, Perry shifted mediums, becoming a staple of the radio. The Perry Mason radio program premiered in 1943 and would run for a dozen years. CBS Radio sandwiched the 15-minute episodes between soap operas. Gardner had sold the radio rights to Procter & Gamble, who slotted the show during the daytime. The author himself scripted some of the early stories. "As a soaper, I stunk," he admitted.  

A string of actors voiced Perry Mason in the first few years, beginning with Bartlett Robinson. Santos Ortega and Donald Briggs followed before John Larkin settled into the role from 1947–55.

And here is where things get interesting. Both Barlett Robinson and John Larkin became frequent guest-stars on the Perry Mason television series!

Robinson appeared in six mysteries, from "The Case of the Fraudulent Foto" in season two to "The Case of the Golfer's Gambit" in the final season. With his balding pate and mustache, he is an easy figure to spot. He was the murder victim in the first (pictured at the top of this post). Here he is chatting into a car phone in "The Case of the Frightened Fisherman."

Larkin, meanwhile, popped up in four episodes, "The Case of the Counterfeit Crank," "Greek Goddess," "Reluctant Model" and "Betrayed Bride." He was both an accused client ("Greek Goddess") and killer ("Counterfeit Crank"), seen here. 

For those who have never heard the Perry Mason radio program, these episodes offer a wonderful chance to imagine others in the lead role. Not only do you hear their voices, you see their mannerisms. Look at the images here and image them as Perry Mason!

For Larkin, it is not so big a mental leap. He was the star of The Edge of Night, the daytime television soap loosely on Perry Mason. His character on that show, a cop who becomes an attorney, was a thinly veiled facsimile of Perry. 

As for the other Perry portrayers, none of them were on Perry Mason. Donald Woods did turn up on an episode of Raymond Burr's Ironside, "The Gambling Game," giving viewers a chance to see two erstwhile Perrys together.

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MarkSpeck 48 months ago
John Larkin is probably more familiar to TV viewers as Brigadier General Wiley Crowe, from the first season of 12 O'Clock High. He only appeared in the first season for good reason--Larkin died midway through the first season. The producers used Harold Gould in a couple of subsequent episodes before deciding on Andrew Duggan as the new Brigadier General, Ed Britt.
AgingDisgracefully 48 months ago
Why not show the 1973-74 Monte Markham reboot? There are only 15 episodes, most with familiar faces as guest stars. Plus Harry Guardino and Dane Clark as Burger and Tragg, respectively. Looking back at the '70s could make for some good unintended comedy.
What could it hurt?
Mike AgingDisgracefully 48 months ago
As it happens, I've been able to find some '73 Markham Masons in the "collectors market".

They're actually fairly good shows.
The production staff came almost intact from the original series:
Executive producer Cornwell Jackson (Erle Stanley Gardner's longtime agent).
Producers Art Seid and Ernie Frankel.
Headwriter Orville Hampton.
Frequent director Art Marks.
Quite a number of others, both before and behind the cameras.

CBS's midyear cancellation was a panic move, pure and simple.
If The New Perry Mason had been accorded a full season, they might have found their own groove.
Or not … but a half-season isn't really enough, never has been, never will be.
lrivera 48 months ago
I love this show. I watch it religiously every night and most mornings. I’ve watched the movies where it’s years later with him and Della. No one can match Burr. I watched the HBO Perry and at first it threw me for a loop. I’m not going to spoil it for you guys. It’s a great show, I just couldn’t relate to the characters at first. I can’t wait for others to watch so we can talk.
Wiseguy lrivera 48 months ago
The problems with the TV-movies were that, after Raymond Burr complaining for years that they should do two-hour Perry Masons to do justice to the novels, they did not do one movie based on any of the novels, including the ones that were never adapted for the original series (perhaps they couldn't get the rights, but I never heard that, one way or another); the other problem was that in too many of them, the murderer was shown right away, but the REAL guilty party had HIRED that person, as if in the 1980s people were too lazy to murder someone on their own.
lucy 48 months ago
Raymond Burr will always be my Favorite ♥️ Perry Mason I have been in LovE with him even when he played Ironside and that smile you just knew awww I’m still in LovE with him still ♥️ I will never get tired of watching reruns My favorite ACTOR ♥️🥰♥️
MadMadMadWorld lucy 48 months ago
You may love him, but Raymond will never love you or any girl. He went the other way, if you get my drift. He couldn't be public with his other feelings because people did not look too kindly on that idea in the '50s and '60s.
lucy 48 months ago
I would Love to see a Perry Mason reboot I think it would be wonderful to give some one else a chance and make the movie more of a scary who done it movie 🎥
jeanetteacevedo 48 months ago
I love Perry Mason!!!! I’m looking forward to seeing the new creation as well.
MrsPhilHarris 48 months ago
Love Perry Mason. Have not watched the new one.
ELEANOR 48 months ago
Is it too much to ask that YOU proofread prior to publishing? Let's look at the following sentence and figure out what is wrong with it. "He was the star of The Edge of Night, the daytime television soap loosely on Perry Mason." Looking at it closely you will have figured out that it is supposed to be "... loosely BASED on ...." Try harder next time.
Jeffrey 48 months ago
Well, I never knew ANY OF THAT! Thanks for telling me (us.)
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