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#227: The Case of the
Thermal Thief
Original Airdate: 01/14/65

Summary Edit

From The Perry Mason TV Show Book (Revised)
This is another unusual episode. It finds Perry away in Europe on business, and movie star Barry Sullivan playing his friend, lawyer Ken Kramer.

Kramer has a strange case on his hands. A woman named Lona hired him to bail out a female thief named Maxine, who had stolen a $50,000 necklace from Lona’s stepsister, Amy Reid. Amy happens to be the widow of a prominent yachtsman who drowned in the Catalina Channel four years before. Lona’s motive for freeing Maxine is to learn where she got the combination to Amy’s safe. Members of Amy’s household think Lona was in on the robbery, and so do the police after they discover Maxine shot to death in a children's playground.

Ken doesn’t agree.

Webmaster's Note: Tom Grossman notes that the character name is Lona, not Lola, and that she is the half-sister of Amy Reid, not her stepsister. Also, Maxine Nichols is played by Nina Shipman. Bettye (correct spelling) Ackerman played Amy Reid.

Credits Edit

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


Starring Raymond Burr
With Special Guest Star BARRY SULLIVAN
Based upon characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins


Directed by Jack Arnold
Written by Robert C. Dennis
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
William Talman as Hamilton Burger
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg
Welsey Lau as Lt. Anderson

Music Composed by Richard Shores
Music Supervision by Herschel Burke Gilbert


Barry Sullivan as Ken Kramer
Bettye Ackerman as Amy Reid
Burt Metcalfe as Jeff Mills
Kathie Browne as Lona Upton
Robert Strauss as Pete Kamboly
Richard Eastham as Roland Canfield
Nina Shipman as Maxine Nichols
Joyce Van Patten as Fay Gilmer
Noel Drayton as Mr. Costelni
Dick Whittinghill as Barman
Irene Martin as First Girl
Mimi Dillard as Second Girl
Mark Tapscott as First Officer
John Hart as Dion
Don Lynch as Third Officer
Harlan Warde as Desk Sergeant
Joan Sudlow as Stella (Maid)
Lee Miller as Sgt. Brice

Uncredited Actors
S. John Launer as The Judge (posted by gracep 9/8/2010)


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

Perry Mason
Produced by the CBS Television Network in association with Paisano Productions

Trivia Edit

Anomaly: Joyce Van Patten, listed as Fay Gilmer, is called Gilmore by several people.
+ Pete Kamboly pronounces the name "Dion" as "Dee-an" while on the witness stand. At one point in episode 47 TCOT Jilted Jockey, Hamilton pronounces the name as "Die-on" (with a long i). jfh 15Jul2019
++ In that same scene Kamboly also mispronounces it as "Dee-own"! Kilo 4/8/2020.

Uncredited Actors: S. John Launer plays the judge but is not credited even though he has lines. Submitted by daveb, date unknown.
+ Don Anderson files in with the other courtroom spectators at the beginning of the hearing. Submitted by gracenote, 4/15/2011.

The yacht featured in the Dion home movie still exists! Read more here. Submitted by D. A. Supernaw, 2/8/2007.

Location: A swimming pool next to a marina is seen in the home movies of Dion near the beginning of this episode. This is at the Long Beach Yacht Club at 6201 Appian Way. See here. Submitted by D. A. Supernaw, 4/26/2005. Updated 2/11/07.

It appears that the portrait of Dion seen in this episode also appears in #250, TCOT Wrathful Wraith, as Jamison Selff. From Tom Stillman via the Perry_Mason Yahoo! group, posted by daveb, 11/14/2009.

Location: About 25 minutes in Ken looks out Fay's window and sees Plummer Park at 7377 Santa Monica Blvd. West Hollywood just 5 blocks from the where Jazbo drove in the previous episode TCOT Frustrated Folksinger. See episode #101 for another episode featuring Plummer Park. Submitted by Eric Cooper, 19 August 2010. Some pictures here.

Sightings: As Maxine talks on the phone, Distinguished Gentleman #1 mops the floor behind her. (But that is not the only time we see him.) Quiet Old Man #1 appears among the spectators in the courtroom gallery; he is chatting and shaking hands with a standing man. He then stands up himself to make room as the aforementioned Gentleman finds his seat. Submitted by gracenote, 4/15/2011.

Star Trek Alert: Only one actor in this episode will go on to appear in a Star Trek role, a rarity for Perry Mason, which is usually chock full of Starfleet crew members and aliens. Kathie Browne, who appears in three Perry episodes, plays Deela, a Scalosian space babe, in the original series Star Trek episode, "A Wink of an Eye." That episode also cast another Perry alum, Jason Evers, who also appeared in three Perry episodes. Since only five Scalosian aliens show up on the Enterprise (they are a dying race), by the numbers, two-fifths of them had been in Perry's courtroom back on earth. Submitted by MyFavoritePolarBear, 11/30/22.

Character Names: Our substitute lawyer’s full name is Kenneth W. Kramer. Just about everyone refers to Mills as Jeffrey, not just Jeff. John Hart plays Dion Reid (surname omitted from credits). Submitted by gracenote, 4/15/2011.

John Hart, in home movie clips in this story as Dion Reid, replaced Clayton Moore during a salary dispute for 52 episodes on The Lone Ranger television show. Mr. Hart also appeared as the Lone Ranger in a 1981 episode of The Greatest American Hero (a show that starred William Katt, son of Barbara Hale) and on a 1982 episode of Happy Days. Coincidentally, Reid was also the last name of the man who became the Lone Ranger. Submitted by H. Mason 4/20/15

License Plate: DEM 265 on Lona Upton's car was on different vehicles in episodes 188, 192 and 203. Submitted by H. Mason 4/20/15

This is the second of two PM directing credits for multi-talented Jack Arnold, who is probably best known for his science fiction films...MikeM. 2/13/2017

From this point on in the Season Eight Part Two DVD set, the captions are actually from the Season Seven Part One set. Sunbmitted by Red Chief, 16/5/2017

This is the first of two PM appearances for Nina Shipman, whose parents and grandparents were in show business...MikeM. 2/19/2018

This is the third of three PM appearances for multi-talented Dick Whittinghill (barman), who was king of Los Angeles radio for about thirty years. An avid golfer, Whittinghill would often play with Bob Hope and Gene Autry. The radio station where Whittinghill worked was owned by Mr. Autry. Dick Whittinghill passed in 2001 at the age of 87. He was a widower, and was survived by two daughters and two grandchildren...MikeM. 6/25.2018

This is the fourth of four Perry appearances for Kathie Browne, who died at the age of 72 in 2003. She was married to actor Darren McGavin from 1969 until her death. jfh 25Jun2018.

This is the second of two Perry appearance for Robert Strauss who was a featured actor in the 1955 Marilyn Monroe film "The Seven Year Itch". jfh 25Jun2018.

This episode is unusual in that it has no on-screen confession. jfh 25Jun2018.

Possible goof: When Amy is first on the stand, the states that she and Lona are half-sisters, "Same father, different mothers" but shortly after she use the phrase, "when my step-father died". -PerryFan 3/4/20
+ The same thought occurred to me, but ... Amy and Lorna had different mothers and Amy's mother divorced their common father and subsequently married another man who thus became Amy's stepfather from whom Amy subsequently inherited his fortune, explaining why Amy had money and Lona had none {whew!}. jfh 29Mar2021
--- although, when Lona Upton steps outside with Ken Kramer upon overhearing him tell Amy Reid about Maxine Nichols' murder, Ken refers to Amy as Lona's step sister jfh 24Feb2023

Or Amy could have been the firstborn child of their father who subsequently remarried Lona's mother. That would explain their age difference and why only Amy inherited his money.

When Lona is talking on the phone (in front of a mirror) she says “Why don’t you tell that boss of yours to go chin himself on a bramble bush?” Is this some sort of idiom or metaphor? Kilo 3/25/2023.

Comments Edit

This episode demonstrates an apparent rule of Perry Mason, that if you're lucky/rich/spoiled enough to own a fur coat, you never take it off, not even on the witness stand. Amy wears hers, and even the matching fur hat, without sweating perspiring. Submitted by DyNama, 1/1/2014.

I think this one of the better plotted episodes. What, at first, seems a too coincidental meeting of loosely connected people turns out to be a a fairly tight and logical web. I had none of those “what the...?” moments so common in PM. DOD 03/29/21

Does anyone have any idea why this episode is called TCOT Thermal Thief? Where does the 'thermal' part of the title come from? Submitted by Neil Van Zile, 6/13/2014
+ Good question. I checked two dictionaries and a thesaurus for possible alternates for both words and found nothing that fits. Added by H. Mason 4/20/15
++ If the necklace had been DIAMONDS, it Might have made sense. A Slang term for Diamonds is ICE, which THERMAL Heat could melt & make Disappear. But since they were EMERALDS, I see No Link between the Title & the Plot. Mike Bedard 4.28.15
+++ Nor did it take place in nearby Thermal California. KGarrett 4/22/16
++++ Well since something stolen is referred to as "hot" item ($50,000) it could require "thermal" gloves to hold. ;-) Submitted by HamBurger 10/09/2016
+++++ Could be the title is a holdover from the original book in which the meaning is clear. The same thing happened in"TCOT Rolling Bones".
++++++ I can find no book of this title.

So what would be a good alliterative title? TCOT Ersatz Emeralds? Mourned Mariner? Sultry Safecracker? Discuss... DOD 03/29/21
+Mourned Mariner - Well done! Submitted by Otto Gervaert, 3/29/21.

Does Della really have 26 file drawers, one for each letter of the alphabet?
+ Apparently so - and careful viewing will find those same cabinets appearing in several office sets throughout the series. DOD 03/29/21

Must say I am impressed LAPD, in a city that large, can trace the seller of a single handkerchief. DOD 03/29/21

The only "guest attorney" episode I recall in which Perry doesn't appear at all.
+ Per this short trivia page on MeTV TCOT Bullied Bowler (Mike Connors) was similarly barren. (I can't recall offhand, and some of the info on the page is incorrect, so perhaps another viewer can confirm.) Notcom 062618.
++ You are correct. Perry is completely absent from both episodes. 03/26/21

An exchange between Lona Upton and Kenneth Kramer reminded me of a scene in the movie Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.
LONA: Oh, but I couldn't go to him, don't you understand? He simply wouldn't understand.
KRAMER: It does take quite a bit of understanding.
from the 1985 movie:
PEE-WEE: Dottie! There's a lot of things about me you don't know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn't understand. Things you couldn't understand. Things you shouldn't understand.
DOTTIE: I don't understand.
Submitted by H. Mason 4/20/15

Spoiler Warning! Do Not Read Below If You Have Not Seen The Episode

This is another case where two murders are resolved. jfh 13Feb2017.
+ In a rather sketchy way, yes. Submtted by catyron, June 29th, 2018
++ "Sketchy way"? A confession to a murder and to the killing for which the innocent defendant was accused of murder, both brought out in the epilogue. jfh 01Mar2019.

I loved that final line Kramer delivers to the real killer - "bide your time, .. bide your time!"
submitted by MikeReese, 4/9/2013, edited 5/29/2017
+ (lowercase masonite moved the above comment to below the Spoiler Warning on 4/30/16.) Kramer's line is actually "Bide your time, [accused's name], bide your time!" Aside from what Kramer actually says, IMHO using the word "sir" is a spoiler. lowercase masonite, 4/30/16.

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