The Perry Mason TV Show Book
The History of the Show

Plenty of Judges but No Jury

The picture of Perry Mason pleading his case to a panel of amazed jurors is a false one. True, each episode in some way involved a homicide, and most were resolved in court. But, contrary to popular belief, Perry argued most of his TV court cases in preliminary or "evidentiary" hearings, not jury trials. This was especially so after the first season. The reason? Economics, mostly. CBS knew that besides enhancing Perry's reputation, it could also save money not have to pay twelve extras to play jurors in every episode.

Just about every show had a judge, though. Nearly fifty actors (and two actresses) portrayed judges during the show's nine seasons. Actor S. John Launer was seen most often (thirty-three episodes), but Kenneth MacDonald is probably the most recognizable. MacDonald, who appeared in thirty-two episodes, is perhaps better know for the parts he played in The Three Stooges films. Stooge-o-philes will remember him as Ichabod Slipp, Dapper the gangster, and a host of other slimy characters. Grandon Rhodes, the judge in the first Mason episode, starred in fifteen more. Other actors frequently seen playing judges on the show include Willis Bouchey (twenty-two episodes); Morris Ankrum (twenty-two episodes); John Gallaudet (sixteen episodes) and Richard Gaines (thirteen episodes). Lillian Bronson appeared three times as a female judge; Fay Roope appeared in two shows. Only about a dozen episodes, for various reasons, featured no judges at all.

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The Perry Mason TV Show Book Copyright 1987 by Brian Kelleher and Diana Merrill. All rights reserved. Presented here by permission of the copyright holder. Commercial use prohibited. Web page Copyright 1998 D. M. Brockman. Last edited 04 Nov 2004.