#165: The Case of the
Polka Dot Pony
Original Airdate: 12/20/62
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
When two girls lay claim to the same long-lost $200,000 trust fund, Perry must defend one of them for murdering a man who said he had evidence indicating the other girl was the rightful heir.
Starring Raymond Burr
in The Case of THE POLKA DOT PONY
Based upon characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins
Directed by Jesse Hibbs
Written by Robert C. Dennis
Arthur Marks | 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
Wiliam Talman as Hamilton Burger
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg
Wesley Lau as Lt. Anderson
Jesse White as Burt Renshaw
Virginia Field as Angela Renshaw Fernaldi
Burt Metcalfe as Richard Campion
Ben Cooper as James Grove
Vivi Janiss as Margaret MacDonald
Melinda Plowman as Maureen Thomas
Eilene Janssen as Maureen Franklin
Jonathan Hole as Edward Link
Byron Foulger as Pop--Leverett Thomas
John Warburton as Mr. Campion
Doris Packer as Mrs. Campion
Morris Ankrum as Judge
Freeman Lusk as Man
Vince Townsend, Jr. as Court Clerk
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
Produced by the CBS Television Network in association with Paisano Productions
Goof: In an office scene near midway, Perry reads a newspaper, whose headline “Ranch Foremen Held in Beauty’s Death,” magically changes when he hands the paper to his client. See here. Submitted by Christopher Graul, 5/27/2005.
+That paper came from episode 106 TCOT Red Riding Boots. Lt. Anderson held the same paper in Della's office before it changed to the paper that seemed to say "CAMERA STORE OWNER MURDERED". The paper with Maureen's photo was never fully visible, but it seemed to have been made specifically for this episode. Added by H. Mason 1/8/15
Dorris Packer makes her only appearance on Perry here playing Mrs. Campion. Dorris Packer was known as the principal, Mrs. Rayburn, of the grammar school that Beaver Cleaver attended. She was also the mother of Chatworth Osborne on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Submitted by PaulDrake33, 9 September 2009.
Eilene Janssen makes her only appearance on Perry in this episode as Maureen Franklin. Eilene Janssen was a prolific child actress, beginning at the age of 2. Ms. Janssen had the distinction of appearing in the very first televised episode of the long running favorite "Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet". Unfortunately, she did not find acting success in her adult years, retiring at the age of 25 shortly after this appearance. Submitted by PaulDrake33, 18 September 2014.
Location: This episode features the Burbank Airport about 5 minutes in and you can see the exterior of the terminal and parking lot. I confirmed this with Les Copeland, president, of the Burbank Aviation Museum. Burbank Airport is now called Bob Hope Airport and has a slightly different facade. It is also featured in episodes #39, #99, #165, #220 and #258. Posted by Eric Cooper, 25 May 2010. Some pictures here.
+ I've confirmed by the positions of cars and people that this shot, at 3:35-3:40, is the last five seconds of the nine-second panning-shot which opens Ep#99. Two vehicles of interest are seen in this 5 secs:
- (a) a 1953-1958 General Motors TDH-4801 LA city bus on the main access road and,
- (b) a medium-color 1960 Mercury Montclair 4-Door Hardtop, immediately in front of the flag pole flying the US flag. This was actually Car(1) in ep#99.
"LOCKHEED AIR TERMINAL", the airport's official name from 1940 to 1967, is written over the passenger entrance doorway. Added by Gary Woloski, 7/6/13.
Burt Metcalfe would go on to produce M*A*S*H. Submitted by gracep, 1/20/2011.
Lt. Tragg, played by Ray Collins, appears in the credits only. Submitted by gracep, 1/20/2011.
Sightings: A few favorite faces turn up in the courtroom today. Pencil Mustache Man lurks in the shadows in cutaways to the defendant. Distinguished Gentleman #1 peers over other spectators from the second row. Lastly, after a long absence and with a little more makeup than usual, Distinguished Lady #1 makes an appearance behind Mrs. Fernaldi. More here. Submitted by gracep, 1/20/2011.
While Perry and his client discuss whether she should take the stand, the African-American Couple takes their seat in the back row on the prosecution side. You can see them, out of focus, over Perry's shoulder in the CU of him that follows. Submitted by JazzBaby, 3/26/2019.
CARS. In the opening shot Burt Renshaw arrives at BOLTON HALL in his
- medium-color 1960 Ford Galaxie 2-Door Sedan.
At 6:11 "Pop" Thomas visits Renshaw's "PROJECTO CAMERAS" shop. A light-colored convertible, with white top up, can be seen through the storefront window parked on the street. The Right Front corner has a very unusual profile. What is this mystery car? Added by Gary Woloski, 7/6/13.
+ The 'mystery car' is probably a 1962 Dodge Dart 440 Convertible. LouV 2/25/17.
+ Thanks Lou!!! I think you've got it! It seems obvious now that a shape like that HAD to be from Chrysler Corp. See Right-Front profiles here & here, top up here. Gary Woloski, 2/28/17.
This is the only PM appearance for Melinda Plowman, who appeared in eight episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet...MikeM. 11/17/2016
This is the only PM appearance for Vivi Janiss, who was married to Bob Cummings from 1933-1945...MikeM. 2/23/2017
+ Janiss has speaking mannerisms and facial expressions very similar to those of Virginia Field. jfh 07Feb2023
This is the first of two PM appearances for Byron Foulger, who was married to Dorothy Adams, who also had two PM appearances...MikeM. 3/15/2018
Something about the court procedure in this show always puzzles me. I interned at a courthouse in the early 2000s. I remember there was something called a Discovery whereby both the defense and prosecution HAD to share whatever evidence they had before the case went to trial. I know that most of the court cases in PM are pre-trial hearings, but there seems to be something unconstitutional about the prosecution keeping key evidence from the defense, literally locking up witnesses so the defense can't question them, and forcing the defense attorney to go into court blind. The locking up of the witnesses blows my mind. The state IS allowed to do that if they think the person will flee. But it seems Burger does it to keep Perry from questioning them which is an abuse of power. How do they have the right to do that? In previous episodes they literally jailed some of the witnesses even though they were not charged with a crime. Our system is set up where you are innocent til proven guilty. Why do they even allow the suspect to have an attorney if they are not given access to any of the evidence or witnesses? Pretty much all Perry is allowed to do is object and then maybe put on a defense if he can even get access to any of the evidence. If Burger is so confident that he's right, why wouldn't he let Perry get access to the evidence? If it was a solid case, even Perry's "tricks" wouldn't change who did it. And Burger always acts put upon when Perry tries to get at the truth. To my mind, he should have been fired years ago or at least gone to jail for contempt based on his long record of racing to prosecute on flimsy, circumstantial evidence, or obviously planted evidence, his poor/harsh treatment of even his own witnesses, and behaving like an all around jerk to the judge, Perry, and even family members of victims. He's not really a good lawyer. In these later seasons, William Tallman chose to behave even more like a petulant jerk delivering all his lines with a smarmy attitude. He openly insults Perry in court even though the judges routinely tell him to stop. Why isn't he censured by the State Bar? Submitted by DellaMason on 11/25/23
Second consective show with an equine title. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 9 September 2009.
+ . . . and, only four shows back, we had Show 161: The Case of the Stand-In Sister, where there were also two girls and a $200,000 trust fund! OLEF641 3/12/21
Sorry for being critical, but I have to say that the four episodes with Virginia Field, including this one, are amongst my least favorite Perry episodes. I don't understand why they kept asking her back--I just don't care for her acting! Ed Zoerner, 8/10/11
+Virginia Field--Mystery Mom: She is in six episodes. In three of them (36, 165, 205), the plot involves whether or not her character is another character's mother. Submitted by Duffy, 10-24-2014.
+ + Before judging too harshly, please watch one or two of Virginia Fields' movies. Perhaps the Perry directors are responsible for her over-the-top performances. jfh 22Dec2022
Mrs. Fernaldi and Campion have similar taste in art - the same calypso prints hang on either side of their apartment doors. The baby in the photo has very dark eyes - one of the Maureens has dark eyes, the other very light eyes. Wouldn't that be an important clue? DOD 12/05/18
Can't recall another episode in which there is so much activity in Della's office.
+ I agree. Della's Office, Home of the Half Empty Shelving. Submitted by catyron, 0428.2018
PaulDrake mentions this is the second consecutive show with an equine title. It is also the second consecutive show where a character's name is said wrong. In the Case of the Fickle Filly, Della uses the wrong last name for a character in a scene where Perry uses the name correctly. Here early on in a scene between Jesse White and Ben Cooper, Cooper gets on the phone with Virginia Field who plays Mrs. Fernaldi. Twice Cooper refers to her by that name in his conversation with White, then only a few moments later during the phone call he then makes to her, he incredibly refers to her as Mrs. Renaldi. Again apparently no one seemed to notice as the show was ready for presentation.Submitted by PerryDixon 10/14/13
A Sign of the Times? It seems odd that the gate to the orphanage wasn't locked. There was nothing to prevent the children from wandering off, or kidnappers or child molesters (or nosy investigators) from getting in. Also, incredibly, the orphanage director leaves Burt Renshaw alone in the record room. I don't know if such lax security was typical of that time, but surely today such an institution would have much tighter security. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 11/7/2013 (revised 10-26-2014.)
+ Where were the other employees? I was bothered by the unlocked gate and the fact that Mr. Link had to go to the gate from an interior upper floor. Burt Renshaw was left alone in the room with the records because he bribed Mr. Link. Added by H. Mason 1/8/14
+ I just think it was a filmed at an estate. The exterior shots seems much to nice for an orphan home. Jonathan Hole plays another slimy character. Submitted by Perry Baby 5/5/16
+ That made no sense, even for the era in which it was filmed! Submitted by catyron, 04.28/18
You Have the Right to Remain Silent? Perry, Lt. Anderson, and Maureen Thomas are in Perry's office. Lt. Anderson states he wants to question Maureen downtown about the murder. Does that mean she was being "detained"? (He didn't say she was "under arrest.") Perry says, "On what evidence"? Anderson shows a photograph. When she blurts out something incriminating, Perry interupts her and says, "Maureen, the Lieutenant forgot to warn you that anything you say may be used against you." (Maureen gives Perry a "now you tell me!" look). This episode was made in 1962, four years before the famous Miranda Supreme Court decision which led to the Miranda Warning ("You have the right to remain silent...") that you hear all the time on Dragnet (another one of my favorite shows). This situation occurred in several previous episodes of Perry Mason. Would anyone know what rights people being questioned or arrested had pre-Miranda? Evidently they were at least supposed to be warned about self-incrimination. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 11/7/2013.
+ Good points. The Valparaiso University Law Review, Summer 2006, has the article "A History of Miranda and Why It Remains Vital Today" by Roscoe C. Howard Jr.and Lisa A. Rich (248k PDF here). From the article: "American jurisprudence regarding the admissibility of confessions prior to the mid-1960s was based primarily on establishing the 'voluntariness' of the confession." Maureen T.'s statement sounded voluntary to me. Also, there is a well-known YouTube video here, "Don't Talk to Police", featuring Regent University School of Law Professor James Duane and police detective George Bruch. (Adrian Colley's useful Table of Contents is in the comments.) They convince me that, with or without a Miranda warning, people can easily incriminate themselves. lowercase masonite, 2/23/16.
I am not an expert, but I think the Miranda case just made it a requirement of police to notify people of their rights. They may or may not have been formally required to do so and up to that point, no one had challenged in court the lack of the warning as a violation of rights. --yelocab 29APR19
Question: Was Maureen Thomas charged for not reporting the murder? Submitted by H. Mason 1/8/15
The Italian branch of the family Hearing Mrs. Fernaldi's name frequently mentioned made me think of this book, popular during my childhood (and first appearing about the time of this show); was one of the writers also a reader ?? Queried by Notcom , 022417.
At one point Perry asks Paul to look in the orphanage records for a baby dropped off 19 years ago, about 1 1/2 years old. Later in court Perry tells Maureen that it's important to prove that she's Angela's daughter. In reply Maureen asks Perry "Mr. Mason, can you remember back when you were 4 years old?" That seems to imply that she last saw her mother when she was four. Submitted by Kilo 8/7/2018.
+Maybe not. It was the pony she was referring to when she was four, not her mother. Submitted by Wick 6/2/2022
++ and Perry repeats the question to Della later in his office, "Della, can you remember ... when you were four years old?". jfh 01May2023
Of course ??? At one point there is dialogue along the lines of "He dropped off a child named Maureen; of couse we had several children by that name" Really?? Obviously it's possible an orphanage could have two children dropped off in the same time period bearing that name, but it hardly seems like it would be so expected to warrant an "of course"...must be one big orphanage !! Notcom, 053122.
I find this a particularly frustrating episode. There is a really good, almost Christie-ish basic plot with some nifty misdirection, that really deserved a tighter script. DOD 02/01/23
Genetics 101: Some viewers may have noticed that neither of the two Maureens resembled the woman calling herself Angela Fernaldi. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 11/7/2013. (revised 10-26-2014)
+ She wasn't the mother of either one. Why should there be any resemblance? Added by H. Mason 1/8/15
+ Exactly. 65tosspowertrap, 1-12-2015.
++ Testing, 1,2,3... This episode is a particularly vivid example of a plot, which were it attempted today, would be senseless: advances in technology - specifically DNA testing - would confirm a lack of familial connections before Maureen even had a chance to complete the in flight safety demonstration. Notcom, 121919.
How did the faux Fernaldi know about that scar on one of the Maureens?
+I’m guessing Grove told her about it, and then she made up the story to fit the scar. Submitted by Wick 6/2/2022
Cold Case/Old Case Perry uncovers and resolves a previously undetected death, as well as clearing his client of current murder charges. jfh 23Feb2017.
Names: Another story with a problem with the name of the killer. The murderer used another person's identity throughout the story. Her "real" name was never given. In episode 57 the killer was only known as "Buzzie". In episode 95 the killer was called David. His last name was never mentioned. There are others. Submitted by H. Mason 1/8/15
+ Did the 1960's LA courts ever verify the identity of witnesses before they testified in a murder case? Maybe Mrs. Fernaldi's passport photo, enabling her to get into the US, looked convincing enough? And speaking of photos, Pop Thomas looked like he hadn't changed his clothes or straightened his necktie in the 24+ hours between his 2 visits to the camera shop. lowercase masonite, 2/23/16.