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EpisodePages/Show163

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#163: The Case of the
Lurid Letter
Original Airdate: 12/06/62

Summary Edit

From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
This is one of the few Perry Mason episodes that doesn’t involve a murder trial per se. Perry is on vacation in Placer Hill, but any hopes of relaxing are quickly ended when he becomes involved in a local scandal.

A local teacher is the target of a whispering campaign. Her supposed romantic antics with some of her young male students cause quite a stir among the locals.

Perry takes up her cause and gets her a public hearing. But when a local innkeeper is killed, the situation takes a more ominous turn and all eyes are on the teacher.

The scene is not a courtroom, but a board meeting in a high school gym. The testimony revolves around the death of a student some months before. Perry’s client is involved because she took an interest in the boy before his death.

Edgar Buchanan, Uncle Joe of Petticoat Junction fame, is featured as the homespun judge.

Credits Edit

Random actor from episode. Click for page of all available.

Opening

Starring Raymond Burr
in The Case of THE LURID LETTER
Based upon characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, Ray Collins

Trailing

Directed by Arthur Marks
Telplay by Jonathan Latimer
From a story “The Man with Half a Face” by Hugh Pentecost

Art Seid | Producer
Gail Patrick Jackson | Executive Producer
Jackson Gillis | Associate Producer
Samuel Newman | Story Consultant

Raymond Burr as Perry Mason
Barbara Hale as Della Street
William Hopper as Paul Drake
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg

Cast

Mona Freeman as Jane Wardman
Edgar Buchanan as Judge Edward Daley
Robert Rockwell as Everett Rixby
Kaye Elhardt as Doris Wilson
Ann Doran as Mrs. Cornelia Slater
John Durren as Pat Mangan
Thomas Lowell as Bobby Slater
Noah Keen as Dr. Stephen Grant
Mark Murray as Terry Wardman
Kelly Thordsen as Sheriff Watson
Chris Alcaide as Gus Wiler
Elizabeth Harrower as Mrs. Mangan
Cheryl Miller as First Girl
Judee Morton as Second Girl
Nancy Lee as Third Girl
Greta Granstadt as Mrs. Sommers
Harry Travis as Mr. Mangan

Uncredited Actors
Lee Miller Townsperson at Board Hearing
Don Anderson as Townsperson at Board Hearing

Crew

“Perry Mason”

Director of Photography … Robert G. Hager
Art Direction … Lewis Creber
Assistant Director … Gordon A. Webb
Film Editor … John D. Faure
Casting … Harvey Clermont
Makeup … Irving Pringle
Hair Stylist … Annabell
Wardrobe Supervision … Ed McDermott, Evelyn Carruth
Set Decoration … Charles Q. Vassar
Properties … Ray Thompson
Production Sound Mixer … Herman Lewis
Script Supervision … Cosmo Genovese
Theme Composed by … Fred Steiner
Automobiles Supplied by … Ford Motor Company

Perry Mason
Produced by the CBS Television Network in association with Paisano Productions

Trivia Edit

Anomaly: Edgar Buchanan is listed as Judge Edward Daley but the sign on his office window spells his name as Daily. [Mitch English]
+ Additionally, Mrs. Wardman addresses the Second Girl as Agnes, but she is not listed as such in the credits. Submitted by gracenote, 7/23/2011.

Thomas Lowell makes his first of two appearances on Perry here playing Bobby Slater. Thomas Lowell was born in 1941 with the birth name of Lowell Thomas. But of course once he became an actor, he would not use the same name as the famous newsman. Thomas Lowell had a minor career, his most famous role being Billy Nelson in the 60s action series Combat. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 2 September 2009.

Uncredited Actors: The schoolboard meeting seems to have been shot in an actual school gym with the spectators seated in real school-type folding chairs. Among the townspeople, both Don Anderson and Lee Miller can be seen. It was rare for Anderson to appear in episodes outside of Los Angeles. By this time Miller should have been recognizable as Sgt. Brice, and his presence must have been somewhat jarring to regular viewers. Submitted by FredK, 3 Nov 2010. - It also appears that the Distinguished Gentleman #1 is present in the gym during the meeting. His back is to the camera, but his distinctive "toupee" is pretty apparent. Submitted by Kenmore 1/04/2012

CARS. (1) Jane Wardman's white 1962 Mercury Meteor 4-Door Sedan, Lic No XCH 325.

There are too many fleetingly-seen background cars to list. At least four motorcycles, belonging to the local Toughies, await ID by a motorcycle enthusiast. Added by Gary Woloski, 6/29/13.

Although credited, Barbara Hale does not appear as Della Street in this episode, and neither does Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg. William Talman neither received credit nor appeared. Submitted by gracep, 1/15/2011.
+ LL was the 5th of Della's 11 absences. Barbara graduated from Rockford, IL HS in 1940 {IMDb]. Mike Bedard 3.18.15

Perry's Client: Perry did not have to defend Mrs. Wardman in a murder case. This was the third episode without court (episodes 6 and 14). Submitted by H. Mason 12/31/14

The Gavel: Judge Daley used a gavel at the school board meeting. The first time a gavel was seen and used since episode 80. Submitted by H. Mason 12/31/14

Mr. Buchanan: For the second time actor Edgar Buchanan was in charge of the proceedings in a small town and Perry solved a murder (see episode 50). Submitted by H. Mason 12/31/14

This is the first of three PM appearances for Mona Freeman, who was also a portrait painter...MikeM. 11/15/2016

This is the third of three PM appearances for Kaye Elhardt, who appeared in eight episodes of "77 Sunset Strip"...MikeM. 2/21/2017

Comments Edit

The closing credits state that this episode was based on the story “The Man with Half a Face” by Hugh Penetcost (a pen name for Judson Philips). The story appeared in the December 1958 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Are there other Perry episodes based on previous writings by other authors? Submitted by Ed Zoerner, 5/5/2009.

This is a very brave episode, handling controversy and rather grown-up topics (teacher-student affairs, sexuality, underage drinking, corruption, vigilantism) rather deftly. Furthermore, Perry Mason shows himself not only a true gentleman but a fine moral example, such as when he scolds the doctor for his wishy-washy statements to the board. Submitted by gracep, 15 January 2011.

This episode is shocking in another way. At my high school, if any student had spoken to any of my teachers the way those boys spoke to Mrs. Wardman, he would have been suspended and probably expelled, never mind any lurid letters. Could kids in the 1960s get away with more? Submitted by gracenote, 7/23/2011.

TCOT (Not So) Juvenile Delinquent: John Durren, who played Pat Mangan, was 24 when this episode was filmed, and - more to the point - he looked like he was 24, which tends to dilute the shock value of the episode. (Of course one could argue he had been held back a number of times - at least six of them, to be exact - but then he would no longer be "underage".) Submitted by Notcom, 021016. \\ Mrs. Wardman pointedly remarks that Mangan is hardly a boy, being old enough to be a soldier; how old would that have been in 1962?

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