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EpisodePages/Show169

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<< Prankish Professor | Episodes | Libelous Locket >>

#169: The Case of
Constant Doyle
Original Airdate: 01/31/63

Summary Edit

From The Perry Mason TV Show Book (Revised)
After Cal Leonard (Michael Parks of Then Came Bronson) is caught climbing the fence at Otis Industries, he tells the police to get Joe Doyle, a local attorney, to help him. But Doyle died two months before, so his widow—Constant Doyle, played by Bette Davis—who is also a lawyer, arrives to defend Cal instead.

For some reason, Lawrence Otis is a little too ready to drop the charges against young Leonard, and Constant Doyle is puzzled.

Constant gets a second crack at defending Cal, who can’t seem to stay out of trouble these days. He is charged with murdering his cousin. She gets her nose rubbed in the dirt when she digs for evidence and finds some very distressing news about her late husband.

Credits Edit

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

Opening

Starring Raymond Burr
With special guest star Bette Davis
in The Case of CONSTANT DOYLE
Based upon Characters Created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins

Trailing

Directed by Allen H. Miner
Written by Jackson Gillis

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

Cast

Bette Davis as Constant Doyle
Michael Parks as Cal Leonard
Peggy Ann Garner as Letty Arthur
Frances Reid as Miss Givney
Les Tremayne as Lawrence Otis
Neil Hamilton as Fred McCormick
George Mitchell as Desk Sergeant
Jerry Oddo as Steven Arthur
John Dennis as Police Lieutenant
Willis Bouchey as Judge
Dick Wilson as Prisoner
Marc Romaunt as Kid
Dorothy Edwards as Waitress
Gil Perkins as Watchman

Uncredited Actors
Don Anderson as Courtroom Spectator (spotted by gracep, 1/25/2011)

Trivia Edit

Burr’s Absense: This is the first of four consecutive episodes that Raymond Burr will miss due to injury. He will be replaced by Bette Davis, Michael Rennie, Hugh O’Brien, and Walter Pidgeon. Submitted by PaulDrake33.
+ It was an operation, not an injury! The Appleton Post-Crescent newspaper for 11/6/62 reported that the network said that Burr “will enter a Los Angeles hospital for minor corrective surgery in December” and that “the company must make several shows during his convalescence without the star.” See the Comments section below for more about this incident. Burr is seen briefly in all four episodes “recuperating.” Submitted by daveb, 1/26/2011.

Dick Wilson makes his only Perry appearance in a small part as a prisoner. Dick Wilson was well known by baby-boomers as Mr. Whipple, the man who was forever telling women shoppers, “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin.” Submitted by PaulDrake 33.

Peggy Ann Garner makes her only Perry appearance here as Letty Arthur. Peggy Ann Garner is most famous for her role as Francie Nolan in the motion picture A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. In fact, she was awarded the Juvenile Oscar for 1946 for her performance. Submitted by PaulDrake 33.

This episode is at the present (September 2009) available on YouTube for viewing. Submitted by PaulDrake 33.

This is one of only three episodes titled “The Case of…” rather than “The Case of the…”. The other two are “The Case of Paul Drake’s Dilemma” and “The Case of a Place Called Midnight”. Submitted by Kenmore, 9/24/10.

Sightings: Several courtroom regulars appear in this episode. On the prosecution side, the Little Old Lady in a Hat sits in the first row, the Pencil Mustache Man in the back row. And on the defense side, Quiet Old Man #1 sits in the back row. Submitted by Kenmore, 9/24/10
+“Miss Carmody” is seated behind Letty Arthur during courtroom gallery closeups. Submitted by alan_sings, 3 Oct 2010.
+ Be sure to check out all of these favorite frequent faces on the Who Is That? page. Submitted by gracep, 11/25/2010.

Tragg does not appear in this episode, despite receiving credit. Submitted by gracep, 1/25/2011.

Being a lady lawyer in the 1960s was challenging and uncommon. By 1970 only 3% of lawyers in the United States were women. Submitted by gracenote, 7/24/2011.

Jailhouse Comics. The Prisoner in the cell next to Cal is improving his mind by reading Ace Comics CRIME MUST PAY THE PENALTY! Issue #42, December 1954 (seen at 1:17). Flip pages to the back cover ad for the "DELICIOUS KELPIDINE CANDY PLAN!" or see it here. The "After" portrait ("THIS CAN HAPPEN TO YOU") looks just like Della! Added by Gary Woloski, 7/26/13.

Paul reads the Registration Form of a '63 Buick 'wagon parked by Lawrence Otis' mailbox (19:56):

  • AUTOMOBILE REGISTRATION________Z? . . ?
  • NAME . . . Mrs. Constant Doyle________Code....54
  • ADDRESS REGISTERED OWNER . . . 104 Cheviot
  • Licence No...YGG-922_______Engine No 4J200525
  • Make....Buick_________________Type....Le Sabre
  • First Sold......12/8/62_____________Fee $....87.43
  • Date Issued...??/12/62 (Dec 12, 1962 assumed)
  • . . . . Constant Doyle

At the Sheriff's Office the front plate is seen to be a 1956-Pattern "yellow-plate" (see Licence Plates primer). The number on the plate is just off-screen but the form's "YGG-922" is entirely consistent with the form's "Sold" & "Issued" dates, with the episode filming in Dec '62 and with the imminent real-world issuance of the 1963 black-plate. And maybe it's a fluke, but "4J200525" seems to be just one numeral short of being a valid Buick engine number! Scroll down to "Serial Numbers" here and find: "4" = 4400 Series V-8 LeSabre; "J" = Year 1963; "2" = Southgate Assembly plant, California; "00525x" = Production Number. See Comment on Address, below. Added by Gary Woloski, 8/3/13.

CARS. In the opening scene, there is a spurious movement of background cars between shots which you can ignore (it's a production goof, see Comments section below). The Cast Cars are:

  • (1) a light-color Ford Model A Roadster STREET ROD w/ top down, driver Kid(?), pulls up to the gate of the Otis Industries compound to extract Cal in the opening scene. It's the same car as Car(2) in Ep#150: compare windshield frame, driver's-side radio antenna, hubcaps, tires.
  • (2) Constant Doyle's medium-color 1963 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon w/ factory roof-rack. Parked outside Seaview Sheriff's Office and later beside Lawrence Otis' mailbox. This is the First 1963 Model-Year Buick to appear in the series (and the first '63 General Motors car). The first-overall '63 car was a Ford in ep#167.
  • (3) Paul drives his black 1962 Thunderbird Convertible to Lawrence Otis' house with the car's white top UP (It really pours in these winter episodes!).

Background Cars. (a) A light-color 1963 Buick LeSabre Convertible with white top up is parked foremost in the Otis compound in the background of the opening scene but only after Cal climbs back over the fence to the outside. Before Cal hops the fence it's hidden behind a '63 Buick station wagon.

  • (b) A 1963 Ford 300 or Galaxie, POLICE B&W with roof-mounted siren and flasher is parked outside SEAVIEW SHERIFF's Office as Constant leaves after seeing Cal in his cell.
  • (c) Also parked outside the Sheriff's Office is a white 1962 Mercury Meteor, "S-33" or "Custom" model, only right-rear side & tailfin seen. A Moiré effect should appear on your video screen over the "washboard" trim appliqué on the bottom of the quarter panel behind the rear wheel. This car returns in the next episode where it's seen to be a '62 Meteor Custom 4-Door.

Seen through the windows of Constant's car in the dark and rain at 19:38, Paul's TBird appears to have a grill with vertical slots, somewhat like a '63 TBird. But it's just a trick of the video process: Paul has a few more miles to put on his old '62 TBird yet! Added by Gary Woloski, 8/9/13.

Comments Edit

There is some uncertainty why Burr was “missing” from this episode and the following three. The Perry Mason TV Show Book (1987) says he was “in the hospital for minor dental surgery.“ The Ona L. Hill biography Raymond Burr (1994) says “he went into the hospital on December 10, 1962 for major surgery.” She goes on to say, “He had been diagnosed with potentially cancerous intestinal polyps, which turned out to be benign. A part of his intestines was cut away and a Dacron tube inserted.” I recall hearing from somewhere that, in later years, Burr denied cancer rumors about himself. Perhaps this explains the differing stories? The Hill story is supported by newspaper articles of the time. However, one article (Newport, R.I., Daily News, Feb. 11, 1963) says Burr “has been quoted as saying that they [the polyps] were cancerous.” It goes on to say “he has declined any further statements beyond declaring that he was fortunate in all regards.” Does anyone have any additional information? Submitted by daveb, 6/28/09.
+ Yes, but not reliable. Burr appeared on a later talk show and, while demurring at specifics, stated he had a physical difficulty which, while not serious, prohibited him from being able to stand or move comfortably. Not much help, is it? Submitted by CGraul, 9/5/2011.

These four "guest lawyer" episodes were the only episodes from the first six seasons not available in the original 195-episode syndication package of the 1970s. Other episodes not available were all but 4 episodes of the 7th season ("Deadly Verdict" was not shown), the entire 8th season and 16 episodes of the final season ("Dead Ringer" and "Twice-Told Twist" weren't shown but "Final Fade-Out" was). It wouldn't be until the mid-1980s until the other 76 episodes would be shown when TBS bought the rights. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 6/15/12.

Disappearing Station Wagon, Opening Scene. Just before Cal climbs the fence to get out of the Otis Industries compound, a '63 Buick station wagon is prominent in the background inside the fence. However, when Cal lands outside the fence the station wagon is gone, leaving a '63 Buick Convertible foremost in the background. The viewer can better understand the positioning & identity of the cars by observing the shadows cast on the wall to their Right in the first shot. I suggest that:

  • The scene was filmed at the studio lot, where the new Buicks for this and the next few episodes had recently been parked.
  • The first shot with the Watchman and the Street Rod approaching the gate had been filmed before someone noticed that it didn't make any sense for the car cast as Constant's to be shown inside the Otis compound.
  • The station wagon was then moved, leaving the Convertible foremost for the subsequent filming.

Unfortunately, the final version has ended up with consecutive shots showing anomalous placement of background cars (drawing attention to the original slip-up). Added by Gary Woloski, 8/10/13.

Constant's Address, shown on her Car Registration as "104 Cheviot" is reminiscent of the address "104xx Cheviot Drive" shown on the Car Registrations of previous characters John Addison (ep#9) and Donald Evanson (ep#95). As far as I can determine, the only "Cheviot" residential street in Los Angeles is "Cheviot Drive". Street Numbers on Cheviot Drive run between 10000 and 10600, so "104 Cheviot Drive" would apparently be bogus. The full 5-digit street number for Addison and Evanson can be seen on the videos. Added by Gary Woloski, 8/10/13.

Possible Perry Mason connection. It is a well known fact that in the mid 1930's, Bette Davis was dissatisfied with the mediocre roles offered to her by Warner Brothers. She turned many of them down. I read once (but can't find it now) that one of the roles offered to her, and refused, was that of Della Street in the Perry Mason movies! Bette as Della??? More research needed. Submitted by Bill-W2XOY on 08/15/2013..

On the 50th Anniversary Edition the second part (non-actor credits) of the closing credits are missing from this episode (also on The Case of the Bountiful Beauty). Also the title is mis-identified as The Case of the Constant Doyle. Were these errors repeated in the season sets? Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 12/15/13. + Answer: YES & NO. On the Season 6 Vol 2 set, the 2nd half of the end-credits is missing (they end after "Watchman.....GIL PERKINS") but the title in the opening credits is correct ("The Case of CONSTANT DOYLE"). Gary Woloski.

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