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#239: The Case of the
Original Airdate: 04/29/65
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
This strange episode begins when Della buys the diary of a drowned woman at an auction. After reading the entries, she becomes convinced the woman's death was not a suicide, as the authorities ruled at the time.
The mystery thickens as Perry gets involved and discovers that there is a kleptomaniac gorilla on the loose, one who is later suspected of murder.
Gavin MacLeod and Victor Buono are featured. Janos Prohaska plays the gorilla.
Starring Raymond Burr
in Erle Stanley Gardner’s
The Case of THE GRINNING GORILLA
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, Ray Collins
Directed by Jesse Hibbs
Teleplay by Jonathan Latimer
Arthur Marks \ Art Seid | Producers
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
Music Composed by Richard Shores
Music Conducted by Herschel Burke Gilbert
Victor Buono as Nathon Fallon
Charlene Holt as Helen Cadmus
Robert Colbert as F. A. Snell
Lurene Tuttle as Josephine Kempton
Gavin Mac Leod as Mortimer Hershey
Bartlett Robinson as Sydney Hardwick
Harvey Stevens as Benjamin Addicks
Robert Foulk as Sergeant Deputy
Jim Boles as Estate Guard
Tommy Farrell as Jefferson
Janos Prohaska as Gorilla
True Boardman as Morgue Attendant
Ted Stanhope as Waiter
Charles Stroud as Animal Regulation Man
Don Anderson as Deputy Sheriff
Director of Photography … John M. Nickolaus, Jr.
Art Direction … Lewis Creber
Assistant Director … Gordon A. Webb
Film Editor … Richard W. Farrell
Casting … Harvey Clermont
Makeup … Irving Pringle
Hair Stylist … Annabell
Wardrobe Supervision … Ed McDermott, Evelyn Carruth
Set Decoration … Carl Biddiscombe
Properties … Ray Thompson
Production Sound Mixer … Herman Lewis
Script Supervision … Marshall Schlom
Theme Composed by … Fred Steiner
Automobiles Supplied by … Ford Motor Company
Produced by the CBS Television Network in association with Paisano Productions
This is the direct adaptation of Erle Stanley Gardner's 1952 novel, ''The Case of the Grinning Gorilla". Most PM episodes were original screenplays 'based on characters created by...', but this is an actual ESG novel.
True Boardman makes his only acting appearance here on Perry playing the morgue attendant. Not only was True Boardman his real name, his father was also named True Boardman. True Boardman began his acting career at the age of 3 in 1912, and this was his first appearance since 1936. True Boardman is best known as a writer. At the time of this broadcast, he had already written two episodes of Perry, TCOT Ancient Romeo, and TCOT Lawful Lazarus. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 18 August 2009.
Lurene Tuttle makes her fifth of six appearances here as Miss Kempton. She was one of the great character actresses in films of the day, and a great favorite of Raymond Burr's She made memorable appearances in "Psycho" , "The Fortune Cookie" , and in the short-lived CBS sitcom "Father of the Bride"  She was wonderful in TCOT Substitute Face, from Season 2.
And Gavin MacLeod, whom millions remember as the Captain of "The Love Boat" in the 1970s.
Robert Colbert played Dr. Doug Phillips on "The Time Tunnel" SCI FI Classic from 1966-67. Mike Bedard 2.4.15
Uncredited Actors: Don Anderson is in uniform once again as a Sheriff’s deputy. I think he’s one of the men who hurry past Mason and his client as they escape the gorilla, and he’s definitely the deputy who steps out beside Paul Drake after overhearing the blurted confession of Fallon and Hershey. Submitted by FredK, 2 December 2010.
It’s quite a conincidence that bon vivant Victor Buono should play the personal assistant to a kooky anthropologist when later in Batman he would play an anthropologist himself—one who was hit on the head and thought himself King Tut reincarnated. Submitted by gracenote, 5/4/2011.
Sightings: As Perry grumpily requests Della to carry her own packages in the opening scene, a hatted Distinguished Gentleman (whom we’ve designated as #1) pops out of the phone booth. Submitted by gracenote, 5/4/2011.
Once again, Ray Collins receives billing for Lt. Tragg but makes no appearance. Submitted by gracenote, 5/5/2011.
Murder Method: Of approximately 34 victims that died by stabbing, Benjamin Addicks was the third known to have been killed with scissors (165 and 193). In many of the stories the instrument wasn't identified. Submitted by H. Mason 5/2/15
This is the only credited PM appearance for Hungarian-born Janos Prohaska, who made a career performing inside animal suits, such as the gorilla in this episode...MikeM. 3/1/2017
This episode is unusual for the very strongly implied homosexual relationship between Fallon (Victor Buono) and Hershey (Gavin MacLeod). Even to suggest such a thing on television was extremely rare in 1965. Submitted by FredK 2 December 2010. + Agreed. dwhite 1.21.13
I saw something similar in a UNTOUCHABLES episode. Philip Pine and Kevin Hagen played two mobsters who seemed a bit more than just brothers in the killing business. It seemed that way after their boss, played by Ricardo Montalban, ordered one to kill the other, fearing he might confess to an acid attack out of weakness. Submitted by MikeReese, 5/30/2016
It's clear that all those responsible were doing their best to make sure that Perry Mason didn't become a cliché of itself, as had The Twilight Zone a year earlier at CBS. These late-season episodes were full of unexpected things not seen usually. That bit with the chimpanzee around Perry's neck in the closing shot is one for the books. Reminiscent of the dog and Paul Drake in the closing shot of TCOT Howling Dog. Raymond Burr loved animals, and he and his partner Robert had a menagerie of their own at their ranch in Healdsburg. dwhite 1.21.13
This episode is different as of late with Perry and Della active with dialogue through the show from the opening shots to the end. Della, known as a good screamer in Hollywood, gets a good scream in. Also, Perry gets somewhat impatient several times with Della, Hershey. You do not hear Perry raise his voice like he did on this show. Perry Baby 11/23/13
+It seemed that Mr. Hershey got impatient and lost his temper with Perry. He slammed his hands on the desk because Mr. Mason insisted on seeing Mr. Addicks. Added by H. Mason 5/2/15
+ It's actually Mr. Fallon that's the initial recipient of impatience, w/ Perry raising both his voice and his (considerable) heft against him - though of course Buono could go buckle-to-buckle against Burr - and adding an exclamatory desk slam to boot. Submitted by Notcom, 052616.
After some stories where people were calling Mr. Mason directly at home (175 and 197) Josephine Kempton went through the night operator to talk to Perry. Submitted by H. Mason 5/2/15
Question: Did Fallon give the police the identity of the impostor? Submitted by H. Mason 5/2/15
Where are Gilligan and the Skipper? The mere fact that this episode includes a guy running around in a gorilla suit--and, worse still, that the guy in the gorilla suit is not Bob Burns-- makes it one of the worst episodes in the show's nine-year run. Submitted by BobH, 16 November 2016.
The gorilla scene ("do not stare at him") seemed a but absurd to me. Submitted by Perry Baby 12/28/16
In the original novel, the author of the threatening letters is the dead man's first wife, not his brother. Moreover, the novel ends with the killer attacking Perry in a gorilla suit with a razor and being shot dead by Paul Drake, an ending possibly lifted from CHARLIE CHAN AT THE CIRCUS and hence unusable for the TV production. Submitted by Red Chief on 17/4/2017.