Chicago Daily Tribune TV WEEK
February 13-19, 1960
ERLE STANLEY GARDNER SAID:
'THAT IS PERRY MASON!'
By LARRY WOLTERS
Erle Stanley Gardner, despite his countless Perry mason books, has never actually described his popular sleuth. Thus, when it came time to cast Perry Mason for TV, there was a certain difference of opinion as to what he should look like. Raymond Burr was considered for the role of Dist. Atty. Hamilton Burger, but he insisted on trying out for the title role, too.
After Gardner had seen Burr in the role, he said, "That IS Perry Mason!" Several million television viewers would agree in this judgment. After three seasons they couldn't possibly imagine anyone else outwitting the district attorney every Saturday night [channel 2 at 6:30].
Raymond Burr owns a beautiful home overlooking the Pacific at Malibu. He has a fine garden, raises a lot of animals, but rarely gets to spend any time there. The Perry Mason role is demanding. Each hour long show gives him a script comparable to a Shakespearean play to learn every week. So he sleeps in a bungalow on the studio lot and gets up about 4 a.m. to study his lines for the day.
All day he's on the stage and evenings he devotes largely to study, too. but on Friday nights or Saturday mornings he heads for home, 36 miles away.
Ray used to play heavies in movies. You may recall him from such pictures as "A Place in the Sun," Alan Ladd's "Cry in the Night," and Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window." He played heavy roles--and he was heavy--about 310. As Perry Mason, he tips the beam at around 210.