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#15: The Case of the
Fan Dancer's Horse
Original Airdate: 12/28/57
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
Returning to L.A., Perry and Della witness an auto accident. The Mexican woman who was driving the overturned vehicle leaves behind some high-heeled shoes and ostrich plumes. Perry is delighted to find out that the owner of the feathers is none other than fan dancer Cherie-Chi-Chi. He is not so delighted to find out the trouble she is in.
Starring Raymond Burr
in Erle Stanley Gardner’s
The Case of Fan-Dancer’s Horse
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins
Directed by William D. Russell
Teleplay by Stirling Silliphant
Ben Brady | Producer
Produced by CBS Television in association with Paisano Productions
Gail Patrick Jackson | Executive Producer
Sam White | Associate Producer
Raymond Burr as Perry Mason
Barbara Hale as Della Street
William Hopper as Paul Drake
William Talman as Hamilton Burger
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg
Susan Cummings as Lois Fenton
Scott Elliott as Arthur Sheldon
Judy Tyler as Cherie Chi-Chi
Robert Bice as Faulkner
Minerva Urecal as Landlady
Hugh Sanders as John Callender
Sydney Smith as Judge Donahue
John Brinkley as Jasper Fenton
Connie Cezon as Gertie
Rusty Westcoatt as Sgt. Holcomb
James Nolan as Meeker
Herbert C. Lytton as Dr. Lambert
Production Supervisor … J. Paul Popkin
Director of Photography … Frank Redman, A.S.C.
Art Direction … Lyle Wheeler, Lewis Creber
Assistant Director … Art Marks
Editorial Supervisor … Art Seid, A.C.E.
Film Editor … Richard Cahoon, A.C.E.
Makeup … Mel Berns
Wardrobe Supervision … Dick James
Set Decorations … Walter M. Scott, Charles Q. Vassar
Properties … Ray Thompson
Recorded by … Alfred Bruzlin
Rerecording Mixer … Harry M. Leonard
Script Supervisor … Cosmo Genovese
This has been a CBS Television Network Production
Filmed in Hollywood by TCF Television Productions, Inc.
CARS: 1957 Ford Skyliner retractable, black, top down (Mason). Cameo: 1957 Mercury 4dr sedan. From The Cars by Greg Cockerill.
The front license plate on the car Perry and Della are in when they witness the overturned auto is: HGA 056; the car which stops and drives the Spanish-speaking woman away has a rear license plate: LJY 933...MikeM. 7/28/2016
The ad Perry places reads: IF THE "FAN DANCER" who lost certain property wishes to recover it, write P.O. Box #9052, L.A., Cal...MikeM. 7/28/2016
Perry makes the newspaper: Los Angeles Chronicle; City Edition; Final 9AM; MURDER SUSPECT APPREHENDED; LOIS FENTON CAUGHT ATTEMPTING ESCAPE IN LAWYER'S CAR; Attorney May Be Charged as Accomplice...MikeM. 7/28/2016
Phone Numbers: Perry’s office number, MA 5-1190, makes its second appearance. Perry gives the number to the hotel operator when he calls police headquarters from the detective’s room across the hall from the murder victim. It’s first used for Perry’s office in episode #17, TCOT Sun Bather’s Diary. Submitted by D. A. Supernaw, 6/30/05.
+ This is the appearance of what would be Mason’s phone number. The previous episode used MA 5-1199. Submitted by alan_sings 10/01/10.
+ When calling from room 510 of the Richmel Hotel, Perry uses the number MA 5-1190 to phone the police, so Paul Drake can report the murder. In the previous episode (TCOT Baited Hook), the very similar MA 5-1199 was used as the number of Tydings & Dawson. In later episodes, the phone number MA 5-1190 becomes Perry’s office number. Submitted by Charles Richmond 10/9/08. Edited by alan_sings 9 Oct 2010 and gracep 11/21/2010. Perry gives the number 5-1190 to the hotel operator as the police phone number. Why the producers decided to later use the same phone number for Perry's office is a mystery. cgraul 6.7.12
Judy Tyler (Cherie Chi-Chi) never got to see her work in this episode. She died in a traffic accident on 4 July 1957 shortly after filming this episode. Submitted by PaulDrake33, 21 June 2008.
+ Miss Tyler, who started her career as Princess Summerfall Winterspring on the Howdy Doody Show, had been on Broadway and had made two films before filming this episode: Bop Girl Goes Calypso and Jailhouse Rock. Submitted by Francis, 10 June 2011.
Pilot or not? I believe this is the 2nd Perry Mason episode filmed. It has an early script date, 20 March 1957. Plus Perry drives a 1957 Ford and wears a hat, both characteristics of the first set of episodes filmed. As an aside, it also shows a characteristic Perry Mason driving habit: Zooming up to a car and pressing hard on the brakes causing quite a bit of subsequent oscillation (up/down). Perhaps what I assume to be “normal” driving doesn‘t film well? Submitted by billp. 29 November 2009.
+ In an interview on the 50th Anniversary Edition DVD, series producer Arthur Marks identified this episode as the pilot episode. Submitted by alan_sings 9 October 2010.
+ I think Mr. Marks may be an unreliable witness. In the same interview, he says the “pilot” was directed by Ted Post, but William D. Russell is credited as Director for this episode. Marks also says he was 2nd Assistant Director for the episode but he is credited as Assistant Director, his initial job after signing on for the series. Ted Post is credited as Director of #13, TCOT Moth-Eaten Mink. See that episode for more information. Submitted by daveb, 11/1/10.
+ Could this be a “2nd Pilot,” then? Also this seeming confusion might bolster my hypotheis that this is the 2nd episode filmed. Submitted by billp, 12 November 2010.
++ This may be "incompetent, irrelevant & immaterial" to The Case Of The Pilot Episode, but Perry Mason associate Jackson mentioned here appeared in Episode 2: The Sleepwalker's Niece. Mike Bedard 4.9.15
+++ Moreover, the spice jar is missing from Mason's credenza. JohnK, 29 November 2015
We get a very nice view of Gertie's receptionist office early in the show, revealing a file cabinet with one drawer open, showing absolutely no files in it. cgraul 6.7.12
Uncredited Actors: This is another possible three-spot for Don Anderson. He’s one of the uniformed policemen with Lt. Tragg at the crime scene and later a courtroom spectator. He may also be a nightclub patron on the dance floor, but this is another sighting that’s difficult to be certain of. Submitted by FredK 30 September 2010.
Sightings: Carefully guarding the defendant is a police matron played by Distinguished Lady #2. A courtroom spectator when court reconvenes is Distinguished Gentleman #2. Submitted by gracenote, 8/28/2011.
Uncredited Actors: Prolific B-Western actor Dennis Moore (a.k.a. Denny Meadows) plays the amicable stablehand at Etondale Stables. He gets lots of lines, but no credit. Submitted by gracenote, 8/28/2011.
Character Names: Meeker’s first name is Sam. Faulkner’s first name is Frank. Submitted by gracenote, 8/28/2011.
The album cover may indeed be the one referred to above, but the music heard under the scene is definitely old Vienna. The record Lois is listening to when Perry enters is the Emperor Waltz, one of the most famous by Johann Strauss Jr., which Mason takes off the turntable and replaces. The new one begins with a melody from Strauss's Roses from the South and then veers off into Tales from the Vienna Woods. Submitted by FredK, 8 June 2012.
The music heard ending just before Mason enters the private booth is the same music heard on the pilot of The Twilight Zone "Where Is Everybody?" (broadcast 10/2/59) as Earl Holliman enters the deserted diner with the jukebox playing. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 6/14/12.
Syndicated cuts: Callender returns to Mason's office to tell him about a bullet wound and Mason repeats the description doesn't fit; Mason in room 511 after discovering the body then crossing the hall to room 510 where Drake and the operatives are; scene with Mason and Sheldon where Sheldon packs his things; Mason and the landlady discussing the key and registering and discovering the blood, feathers and hairs in room 5; Mason seeing a man watching him. Additional Hallmark cuts: Drake and Tragg in room 511 and Tragg checking room 510 for Mason; the judge asking Mason if wants to make an opening statement, Mason saying no; Dr. Lambert's testimony. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/18/12.
Name of the "Fan Dancer's Horse": Starlight. - Submitted by H. Mason 9/30/14
Among his many Pre-Acting jobs to support his mother & younger sister/brother, Raymond William Stacey Burr worked as a "Ranch Hand in Roswell, New Mexico" [IMDB Bio]. Mike Bedard 3.8.15.
Minerva Urecal: For information about the actress playing the part of the landlady at the boarding house see trivia notes for episode 231. Submitted by H. Mason 4/23/15
+ The landlady "Minerva Urecal" was in a Three Stooges short They Stooge To Conga where she played Marsha, the Nazi Housekeeper (uncredited). Submitted by HamBurger, 8/13/2017
Sgt Holcomb as a character makes his second appearance here (the first was TCOT Restless Redhead) but it's not the same actor as in that episode.
While “processing” this episode today, I was impressed by its high production values. There were many extras and elaborate sets. And, if I didn’t miscount, there were seven uncredited actors with speaking parts. daveb, 5/20/09. And an actual 12-person jury -- the expense of which was later cut from the series. cgraul 6.7.12
The courtroom set used for the trial scenes in this episode (and other early ones) was larger than the sets used later, so there were more spectator gallery rows as well as a jury box that needed to be filled with extras. And if my memory is correct (and it isn't always) the unbilled Spanish-speaking good Samaritan who helps at the accident later turned up as one of the villagers protected by the Magnificent Seven in that classic Western. Submitted by FredK 8 June 2012.
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg (my favorite character in the series) does his usual excellent job of communicating acerbic professionalism. cgraul 6.7.12
Oddly enough, while a good many bit players in this episode who spoke received no billing, Rusty Westcoatt as Sgt. Holcombe was in the cast list though he had no actual lines aside from an almost inaudible word with Tragg. Submitted by FredK 8 June 2012.
Random Musings: When Perry tells Della to fasten her seat belt, I presume he was speaking metaphorically, since as I recall cars typically didn't have seat belts in 1957. When he hands the accident victim his card, he says "I'm not looking for business, I just want to be helpful." Can you imagine any of today's ambulance-chasing lawyers saying that? This is especially funny since the MeTV Perry Mason broadcasts I'm watching typically contain several ads for ambulance-chasing lawyers ("Been injured in an accident? Pain and suffering? Great! This is a potential financial windfall for you! I'm lawyer Whiplash Willie. Call me! Don't settle for a tiny check. I'll get you a BIG check!"). I love that periscope thingy that Perry's gang uses to spy on the room across the hall. I guess peepholes hadn't been invented yet. I'm surprised Perry lets his client dress like that in court. It does make for some nice eye candy however, especially when she stands next to the other Lois Fenton. Paul seems to be enjoying the view. Speaking of Paul, once again we seem him in court slouching disrespectfully in his chair. C'mon Paul; sit up straight!. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 3-26-2014.
+The real Lois Fenton spends the entire episode in the same dress, at least until her fan dancing finale when she wears her . . . fans. Maybe the reason Perry lets Lois dress like that in court is because it's the only dress in her wardrobe. Submitted by BobH, 29 December 2015.
Perry warns his Female client that she may end up in TEHACHAPI if she doesn't start cooperating: "At the end of 'The Maltese Falcon' Humphrey Bogart turns to femme fatale & murderer Mary Astor and says, 'If you get a break you'll be out of TEHACHAPI in 20 years...I hope they don't hang you, precious, by the neck.'...The California Institution for Women, TEHACHAPI, was the Only Women's prison in the state of California," observes muse.jhu.edu ("Hard Times At Tehachapi: California's First Women's Prison" review). Mike Bedard 4.10.15
"You know, Paul, the Trouble with Lawyers is they're Too Skeptical," said Perry. Mike Bedard 4.10.15