#20: The Case of the
Original Airdate: 02/01/58
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
We catch Paul reading a copy of Lonely Hearts Calling magazine in his office.
He’s “on duty,” hired to investigate an ad placed by a lonely heiress named Marilyn Cartwright who is looking for male companionship. Or so she says. The heiress is really looking for the con man who drove her sister to suicide.
When Marilyn does find the man, Barnaby Baker, she turns on the charm convincingly. She hopes to catch him red-handed in the act of embezzlement and fraud, and turn him over to the police. Baker is murdered before Marilyn can get the goods on him. Perry’s job is to convince the police that Marilyn didn’t kill the man in an act of revenge.
Starring Raymond Burr
in Erle Stanley Gardner’s
The Case of Lonely Heiress
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins
Directed by Laslo Benedek
Teleplay by Donald S. Sanford
Ben Brady | Producer
Produced by CBS Television in association with Paisano Productions
Gail Patrick Jackson | Executive Producer
Sam White | Associate Producer
Raymond Burr as Perry Mason
Barbara Hale as Della Street
William Hopper as Paul Drake
William Talman as Hamilton Burger
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg
Robert H. Harris as Edmund Lacey
Anna Navarro as Delores Coterro
L. Q. Jones as Charles Barnaby
Kathleen Crowley as Marylin Clark
Richard Crane as George Moore
Betty Lou Gerson as Agnes Sims
Gail Kobe as Margo
Robert Williams as Lt. Kramer
Frank Wilcox as Judge
Robert McQueeney as Dr. L. J. Palmer
Gene Wang | Story Editor
Production Supervisor … J. Paul Popkin
Director of Photography … Frank Redman, A.S.C.
Art Direction … Lyle Wheeler, Lewis Creber
Assistant Director … Wilbur F. McGaugh
Editorial Supervisor … Art Seid, A.C.E.
Film Editor … Richard W. Farrell
Makeup … Mel Berns
Hair Stylist … Annabell
Wardrobe Supervision … Dick James
Set Decorations … Walter M. Scott, Charles Q. Vassar
Properties … Ray Thompson
Production Sound Mixer … Robert O’Brien
Rerecorded by … Harry M. Leonard
Script Supervisor … Cosmo Genovese
This has been a CBS Television Network Production
Filmed in Hollywood by TCF Television Productions, Inc.
CARS: 1957 Cadillac convertible, black (Mason), 1957 Chevrolet 150 4dr sedan, black (Police). From The Cars by Greg Cockerill.
That these early shows alternate between featuring GM and Ford vehicles, shows they were not aired in the order filmed. I suspect the GM shows were filmed first. DOD 06/11/20
Goof: In the opening scene, George Moore goes to the Lonely Hearts office to collect the letters from box 96. The numbers of the post office boxes in the office are all jumbled up and in no particular order. The row of 91-92-93-etc. runs right down the middle of the post office boxes running between 42 and 43, 32 and 33, etc. This would make it extremely difficult for someone to post the letters. Submitted by PaulDrake33, 07/03/2008.
+ It's actually worse than that. The box numbers are 91, 95, ?, 93. (The ? is the open box. I can't see the number on it but it must be 96.) Submitted by Kilo 3/9/2018.
Actor Robert H. Harris makes his first of seven series appearances in this episode. He also gives the first of his usual eye-rolling, over-the-top performances. He should be among the nominees for the Series Achievement Award for Hammiest Guest Actor for his multiple offenses against the art of subtlety. Submitted by BobH, 18 January 2016.
+ Although she doesn't appear in this episode, Virginia Field would handily win the above Series Award in the actress category. Third_Generation_Fan 1/15/2021.
...and has any other actor spent so much time mopping his brow with a hankie? DOD 05/17/18
+ Jonathan Hole certainly gives him a run for his money in Episodes 26 (TCOT Half-Wakened Wife) and 67 (TCOT Spanish Cross), but not with as fulsome a display of histrionics. Submitted by BobH, 19 December 2018.
++ At first I thought Lacey was actor Donald Pleasence - he and Harris look a lot alike. Rick P 11/4/21
The favorite jeweler of the series, Van Dorf and Kohl (or Cole or Co.), may have first been mentioned in this episode. It’s the jeweler that Barnaby went to. Submitted by billp, 12/28/2008.
+ I could only find three times in the 271 episodes this business was mentioned, episodes 20, 22 and 34. Are there more? Added by H. Mason 10/2/14
++ Seventeen years after this Colombo would pay a visit to Van Cleef and Arpels in Beverly Hills (altho the name of the store isn't actually mentioned in the episode). Viewers, noting a certain similarity in the cadence of the two names, might assume it was the inspiration for the fictional PM store; but their thinking would be wrong...or at least suspect: the Rodeo Drive location didn't open until 1969. Notcom, 102520.
Note the intercom on Perry’s desk (also in other episodes the first season or so). It’s a Rauland Amplicall Intercom. The case is made of brown swirled bakelite and contains a tube amplifier and speaker. The handset is a Kellogg brown model. Front panel controls include push-to-talk bar, on/off/volume, pilot lamp and 6 station selector switches. It would be hooked to the PBX so the operator could make the connections. See Telephone Curiosities for these details and pictures. Submitted by billp, 12/30/2008.
Sightings: In the opening scene today, seen exiting the Lacey Publishing Co. and looking very happy with her lot in life, is Distinguished Lady #2. We see her later on as a spectator in court, together with Distinguished Gentleman #2, Little Old Lady #2, and Distinguished Lady #1, plus Distinguished Gentleman #1 as the court stenographer.
Submitted by evelyne, 17 February 2011.
+ Read more about all of these favorite faces on the “Who Is That?” page. Submitted by gracenote, 8/29/2011.
++ Distinguished Lady #4 is in her favorite spot on the back row near DL #2. Next hearing in the front. Submitted by BigBill767, Nov 11, 2016.
Uncredited Actors: Though Lee Miller has appeared in several previous episodes as a police plainclothesman, it will be a while until gets the name “Brice” (which was used twice by Chuck Webster). This is the first time he appears as Lt. Tragg’s tagalong sergeant. Submitted by FredK, 9 June 2011.
In an early scene in Paul Drake's office (with Lacey and then Paul's secretary), you can see a framed drawing of Dick Tracy on his desk. There are a couple more episodes, like #5 Sulky Girl and #33 Long-Legged Models where we can also see a framed Dick Tracy picture. Any others? Submitted by mesave31, 04/16/15.
Goof? Consider the scene where Delores shoots through the door of Lacey’s office. Well, on the side of the door through which Delores fired, there doesn’t appear to be a corresponding bullet hole. In other words, there’s an exit but no entry. Miss Sims does her best to obscure this fact, but the miracle of the DVD and stop-action shows it to be the case. I hesitate to call this a goof since I don’t think that when the show first aired it would have been possible to notice this. Submitted by bill, June 15, 2011.
+ Good catch. The shooting starts at about 30:22 on the 2006 Region 1 Paramount DVD. The door originally shows the first entrance hole (which later disappears) between the H and E of PUBLISHER, but not the later entrance holes around the metal plate of the doorknob. (Why shoot so close to a metal plate?) Submitted by (lowercase, with a comma and period) masonite, 07/20/13.
++ Goof 2.0: She fired six shots at the door (that's how she knew she would be out of bullets when she pulled the trigger at almost point-blank range), but in the final scene Perry says she fired five. P.S.: She fired at the metal plate because she wasn't trying to hit him; it was all an act. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 4-2-2014.
+++ Good Shootin, Tex: The sound crew must have had fun with the gunplay scene -- inserting several ricochets, and loud shooting in general. It sounded like we were watching The Lone Ranger. JohnK, 28 October 2021.
Syndication cuts: Drake "rushing" to the bank, meeting Perry and telling him about the heiress; scene with Agnes and Lacey as Agnes tries to open Lacey's desk; George bringing Mason to Marilyn; Lt. Tragg dropping Dolores off at her apartment with Drake watching; scene with Burger, Dolores and Tragg where Burger tells her Mason was trying to confuse her; Burger tells the court that Marilyn's motive was revenge.
Additional Hallmark cuts: Drake and Lacey scene after Paul hands him a pen to write the check and Paul and Margo's conversation after; part of Marilyn, George and Mason's conversation concerning the amount of money Barnaby took from Marilyn's sister ($16,000) and whose idea the plan was; part of Lacey's testimony about his magazine being a hunting ground for con men, Barnaby using it for his purposes many times and Lacey having no control over Barnaby (which Mason asks about a few seconds later); part of George's testimony concerning that the plan didn't include murder and that the police weren't called because Marilyn didn't want them to interfere, Mason objecting to Burger cross-examining his own witness and Burger stating that George is an adverse witness. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/11/12.
+ Just a general gripe shared by all who must watch the butchered syndication versions of these episodes: At some point it becomes too frustrating to try to figure things out without all that has been deleted. The heavy-handedness of the process has made them near unwatchable. I've stopped watching my local broadcast of the show and have purchased the CBS DVDs, one half season at a time. They are better looking and, most importantly, complete. Too bad we have to go through that to see an episode intact. Thannks for letting me vent. Submitted by francis, 6/03/14.
++You can't beat watching the episodes on DVD. Also, after viewing, you can re-sell them on Ebay. Submitted by Magazines Mason, 4/30/15.
+++ Mostly complete. There's the infamous 1:12 missing from the second season's "The Fancy Figures" before Paul walks into Perry's office in an early scene. On the 50th Anniversary set some episodes with the two-part closing credits are missing the second part ("Constant Doyle" and "The Bountiful Beauty"). The missing credits from "Constant Doyle" are also missing on the season set so other episodes may also be missing some credits. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 6/05/14.
Lacey owns a gun. So, when Dolores is shooting at the door of his office, why doesn't he try to get to his gun to defend himself? Submitted by Scarter 12/14/13
Missing ring: When Perry tried to question Delores in court the first time he was wearing his pinkie ring on the left hand. When he questioned the next witness, Dr. Palmer, it was gone. Submitted by H. Mason 10/2/14
Richard Crane starred in his own show, Rocky Jones, Space Ranger in 1954. He replaced William Schallert (see trivia notes for episodes 7, 120 and 147) in the fourth episode / chapter of the television show / movie serial Commando Cody - Sky Marshal of the Universe in 1955. Submitted by H. Mason 10/6/14
Character names: Thanks to the Paul Drake Detective Agency we know Charles B. Barnaby also used the names "Country Boy" Baker, Charlie Bailey and Charles Burns. Submitted by H. Mason 10/16/14 Barnaby, played by the great L.Q. Jones early in his career would go on acting for almost 50 years and 165 credits and will be 95 in August. Joe B. 04/10/2022
According to Wikipedia, Kathleen Crowley was Miss New Jersey of 1949 and came in sixth at the Miss America contest...MikeM. 8/4/2016
According to Wikipedia, Louis B. Mayer helped the Jewish director Laszlo Benedek escape to the US from his native Hungary. Benedek is best known for two of his big screen films, "Death of a Salesman" and "The Wild One"...MikeM. 8/4/2016
The plot of the original novel involves a dispute between the daughter of the nurse of a dead millionaire and his brothers and sister. The murderer is the elder brother, who killed a witness to the will so as to frame the girl for murder. -- Red Chief, 21/7/2018
Teleplay writer Donald S. Sanford wrote the screenplay for the 1976 film "Midway"...MikeM. 8/4/2016
Interesting Steno Technique - In the scene in Paul's office, he has his secretary, Margo, take dictation for the letter he's writing for Lacey. She starts her transcription at the very bottom of the page. Shouldn't she be starting at the top? I would assume Paul can afford to buy enough steno pads that a fresh dictation could start on a fresh page. -- OLEF641; 8/25/2017.
+ Did you catch Lacey sneaking a peek at Margo's legs? Kilo 6/11/2020
This is the only PM appearance for Anna Navarro, who would appear in a single episode of "Ironside" playing a character named Mrs. Molina...MikeM. 5/17/2018
Anna Navarro played Maria Poncherello, the mother of Frank Poncherello, on two episodes of the TV show "CHiPs." ...Chuck_H, June 11, 2020
This is the first of two episodes in which the murderer uses prussic acid as the murder "weapon". The other instance is episode 91 (in which the victim was played by the wonderful Marie Windsor). jfh 29May2019
Español - Well, sorta. When Delores breaks down crying on the stand, she says: "He is muy vida", then restates the last two words in English (erroneously) as "my life". However . . muy translates to "very" not "my"; "my" in Spanish is mi. "He is very life." Also, her name, which is more often spelled "Dolores, is Spanish for "sorrows", which she certainly had many of. OLEF641 11/29/21
The $16,000 the heiress’ sister was swindled out of would ring in at $117,605.54 today. Barnaby and Co. are making a pretty good living it seems. Lacey says he’s made $400 ($2,940.14) on the ad. His magazine costs $1 ($7.35). Paul charges Lacey $200 ($1,470.07) for the letter. No wonder Lacey sputters. Lacey thinks they can sucker the heiress out of $75,000 ($551,275.95), the split 50-50. Barnaby has other ideas: Lacey gets $1000 ($7,350.35). Barnaby asks the heiress for $50,000 ($367,517.30) for drilling. That $8,000,000 suit Perry is working on would be worth $58,802,768.17 today. But we already knew Perry is a high-flyer. This must be one of the ways he finances those cases where he doesn’t make costs (e.g., “Fiery Fingers”). Submitted by billp, 12/28/2008.
The only episode I recall in which we meet Paul's secretary. I love the Agnes character - too bad she has so little screen time. That large planter in Paul’s office has been seen, at times, in Della’s and Perry’s offices. This plot reminds me of Ira Levin's terrific first book "A Kiss Before Dying" which deals with another serial philanderer who preys on sisters. DOD 05/17/18
How did Tragg almost immediately determine Charlie was poisoned? And that Marilyn was responsible? DOD 06/25/21
In the final scene, when Paul flips a coin to determine if he or Perry will take Della to dinner, he flips a Walking Liberty Half Dollar. They were minted from 1916 to 1947. Otto Gervaert, 6/25/21.
When the heiress is writing her answer to Barnaby’s, i.e. Drake’s, letter, we see a painting over the fireplace. This painting is a copy of/inspired by one commonly titled Two Dancers at Rest/Dancers in Blue. Whatever it’s called, it’s by Edgar Degas. I recall ballet-inspired artwork being quite popular in the 1950s. I don’t know why that was, but I remember my mom had some, too. Submitted by billp, 12/28/2008.
+ I think the set designers must not have been trained interior decorators. The two pictures on either side of the fireplace have large lamps in front of them. Submitted by Kilo 5/21/2017
++ Speaking of moms, is this the Only episode where Perry refers to his? "My mama always said I would forget my head if it weren't screwed on tight," he tells Della in the murder room. Mike Bedard 4.16.15
+++I respectfully disagree, Mike. Perry was reenacting the scene. He merely repeated what Charley had said.
++++ You're right! I re-watched it on 4.28.16 & noted Perry's Facetious Tone of delivery. Mike B. 4.29.16
+++++ It was mentioned that Lacey intercepted Drake's letter and substituted his own using Charlie's name. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 9/29/13.
Look at Paul Drake’s desk. It’s similar to or the same as Perry’s. Submitted by billp, 12/28/2008.
Speaking of the Mason office furniture, it strikes me as being mid-to-late-1950s Danish modern. The floating top desk, the credenza, the round table and chairs, the sofa, Della’s desk—even the art work (fish painting). I’m thinking it must have been a suite or something. Is anyone an expert on the decorative arts? Can they identify the makers and/or give other information? It would also be great to see photos (color or b/w) of the furniture from style books or what-not. Does the bas-relief over the sofa look familiar? It strikes me as some sort of imitation of Babylonian art. Submitted by billp, 12/30/2008.
The premiss of this episode is somewhat puzzling. Personal ads are notorious for being less than truthful. So why should the Post Office be so concerned about any particular ad in a trashy magazine? Submitted by gracenote, 8/30/2011.
+ The postal authorities were suspecting that the magazine itself was making up fake ads designed to elicit many responses and boost magazine sales because the mailed-in responses had to be on the form in the magazine. That's mail fraud. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 4-2-2014.
++ Charlie tells Lacey: "Horsing around with the mails is a FEDERAL Offense." The Constitution states: "Congress shall have power to establish POST Offices and POST Roads [Art. 1, Sec. 8 Delegated Powers]." Mike Bedard 4.16.15
+++This would be a federal offense because: (a) it utilizes interstate commerce, and (2) it utilizes a federal agency. cgraul 5.12.17
L.Q. Jones gives a thoroughly enjoyable performance as Barnaby in this episode, one of my favorites. It's too bad he didn't appear more often in Perry episodes! Ed Zoerner, 9/13/11.
Bad Accent Dept.: In a continuing procession of actors presumably hired for their superior talent for accents, Anna Navarro, who built a career playing women named Maria or Conchita, delivers a most unconvincing performance as a Mexican spitfire. Script writers must take some responsibility, for they seem to think foreigners are unfamiliar with parts of speech like articles ("You think I am bad girl?") and can use verbs only in the present tense ("I know she kill my Charlie!"). Submitted by francis, 5/21/13.
+ Good observation. Navarro played "Maria" 12 times in different shows and films. cgraul 5.12.17
++ I said she was supposed to be Italian. My wife said she was supposed to be Russian. We were both wrong about the country but correct that "she is bad actress." Submitted by Vladimir Estragon 9/23/2020.
+++ This is definitely on the script writers. Notice how she switches from 'You think I am bad girl? To 'Now, are there anymore questions, Mr. Mason?' when she tells that she is a diabetic. As clunky as the switch is, it worked for me, because I didn't buy into the characters' act of being unable to speak/understand American English. It would have made more coherent sense for her to say, 'Do you think I am a drug addict?', but the clunkiness of the dialog seemed to me a way of establishing her as a con artist. Not until she broke down did I have believe her dialog to be 'real', and even then I had my fingers crossed - symbolically! Submitted by MikeReese, 10/25/2020
And Delores (why not the more-usual Spanish spelling of Dolores?) is yet another testifier with a heavy foreign accent who the prosecution does not supply with an interpreter, even though the prosecution is using her to help build their case. A good (defense) attorney can trip up such speakers. For example, after Delores had admitted that she had known the victim for eight years since meeting him in Mexico City, Perry asks her, "And from then on you were his accomplice?" Delores responds, "You mean I help him?" The Spanish word for accomplice is the similar cómplice and, given her history, I wonder why Delores had trouble with "accomplice". Further, per Hamilton, Delores "is not familiar with our system of jurisprudence". I also wonder how well he prepped her pre-trial. Submitted by (lowercase, with a comma and period) masonite, 07/20/13.
Paul Drake: That establishing shot - PAUL DRAKE PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR - seemed to indicate he was a one man operation. In most episodes before and after this one his business was called the PAUL DRAKE DETECTIVE AGENCY. Submitted by H. Mason 10/2/14
Where was Paul's business suite located? I can't find any instance when the location was given. Even episode 238 TCOT Duplicate Case that included Kushy Walky arch supports, the business right beside Paul's, no numbers were shown. This story made it look like he was on the ninth floor. He left his office to cash the check from Edmund Lacey and met Perry in the hallway. Submitted by H. Mason 10/2/14
+ Paul's office was supposed to be on the ninth floor. In episode 31 TCOT Fiery Fingers Gertie said Della was down the hall in Drake's office. Added by H. Mason 10/7/14
++ In the books and other episodes it is made clear that Drake's office is on the same floor as Mason's, and is between Mason's office and the elevator. cgraul 5.12.17
The power of No'ing Delores' refusal to answer Perry's questions proves quite fortuitous as it gives him time to discover the crucial evidence; had he cross-examined her based on what he initially knew, what could he have learned ?? (Perhaps he could have called her back as his own witness - is that permitted ?? - but based on her attitude, good luck with that !!) Notcom, 091317.
Interesting that Tragg was able to determine at the murder scene that the cause of death was poison. Seems like that would have to be discovered by an autopsy. Submitted by Kilo 3/9/2018.
Once again, the scriptwriters try to fool the audience -- the person who discovers the body, and acts so shocked, turns out to be the killer. Delores is alone when Charlie falls down dead and she's surprised and grief stricken, yet it turns out she herself poisoned him. If she's putting on an act, who is it for? She's alone. The same thing happens in The Case of the Golden Fraud and The Case of the Glittering Goldfish. Submitted by Scarter 12/14/13
+Elementary, Sherlock. She still loved him--it's as simple as that. Submitted by Old Colony St. Gar
++ To quote Anna Russell in her monologue on The Ring Cycle, after Brünnhilde has Siegfried killed; "Well of course, as soon as he’s dead she’s sorry . . I know you men are going to say “so like a woman,” . . " OLEF641 10/24/2020
Keep in mind that Lt. Kramer was still in the room when Delores broke down. He was going for the phone which seemed to be just off camera. So, whether she was still in love or not, she was not breaking down only for the audience's sake. Submitted by Kenmore 01/15/2022.
For the third time in the first twenty episodes, we have:
Champagne bottles are pressure vessels with 70 to 90 pounds per square inch of pressure. I would guess that sticking a syringe through the cork of a champagne bottle would result in a catastrophic loss of pressure. Submitted by Vladimir Estragon, 9/23/2020.
The same trick has been used in other shows, notably an episode of “Colombo”. As I understand, the cork closes in on itself as the syringe is pulled out, keeping the bottle pressurized. DOD 06/25/21
+ The champagne wrapper would have a hole in it regardless. You'd think the police would examine the wrapper. BTW - that Columbo episode was good! Rick P 11/4/21
The Country Boy may have torn the wrapper to get at the cork. That is rather common, so a hole in a crumpled, torn wrapper may not have drawn that much attention. Since the hole in the cork probably no longer existed or at least was not identifiable, I could see how the police could overlook it. Submitted by Kenmore 01/15/2022.
Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 4-2-2014.
Had Marylin also partaken with the champagne, she would've been dead as well leaving Delores as the only suspect. But I guess she was fine with that possibility. Submitted by Kenmore 01/15/2022.