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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.


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


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


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.
++ Poor Perry: he was hospitalized in the 2-Hour Movies too: he had knee Surgery in "TCOT Musical Murder," where he said, "I lost my 1st 7 cases in Municipal Court. 2 were real embarrassments" to young protege Ken Malansky. Perry introduced Della as "my Associate." MeTV 2.19.15 re-airing. Mike Bedard 2.20.15.

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.
+Ray Collins played bank president Milton in "The Best Years Of Our Lives," which Bette Davis said was Hollywood's finest film ( reviews; it won the 1946 Best Picture Oscar). Mike Bedard 2.4.15
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.

Paul Drake on the witness stand: We didn't get to see Mr. Drake testify, but through the testimony of the police Lieutenant we learned that Paul had been questioned in court. Submitted by H. Mason 1/15/15

Michael Parks: Was the star of the 1969 - 1970 NBC television show Then Came Bronson. He is still active (at the date of this entry). He appeared in Django Unchained (2014) and Tusk (2014). According to IMDb he will appear in a few films that are to be released. Submitted by H. Mason 1/15/15

When this episode first aired in January 1963, Peggy Ann Garner was separated from her actor husband Albert Salmi. After Garner and Salmi divorced in March 1963, Albert Salmi married Roberta Taper in 1964. In 1990, Salmi murdered Roberta Taper, then committed suicide...MikeM. 11/23/2016

This is the fifth of seven PM appearances for Neil Hamilton, who was Commissioner Gordon on 120 episodes of the Batman television series...MikeM. 11/23/2016

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.

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.

Strange Business: Miss Givney left the office during Cal's visit without telling her boss. When the phone rang Mrs. Doyle answered by saying "Yes?" instead of with the business name. Miss Givney and Mrs. Doyle were both out of the office when Cal "borrowed" the car keys and went through the files. Miss Givney knew about the deal with Otis Instrument Company and Mrs. Doyle didn't. No wonder companies severed their relationship with the firm. Did Mrs. Doyle have any clients of her own? She didn't seem to have worked closely with her husband. What was in all those file cabinets? Submitted by H. Mason 1/15/15

This episode seems a little different in production quality and it may have been rushed but just a guess. The editing is not the usual style with continuity between some cuts with loss of continuity. Also, the camera "crosses the line" like in the jail sequence when the jumps between both sides of the line. In my opinion, Betty Davis did not age so well and her acting harsh and forced. I had admired her early work in 30's and 40's. She seemed to be a chain smoker too. The ending scene was interesting as she swats him as they leave for a big steak dinner. Submitted by Perry Baby 5/20/16

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