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#26: The Case of the
Half-Wakened Wife
Original Airdate: 03/15/58

Summary Edit

From The Perry Mason TV Show Book (Revised)
It looks like a case of murder and the eternal triangle. Frank Lawton is an old war buddy of Perry’s who has come out of the woodwork needing to be cleared of the shooting death of his boss, Scott Shelby.

It appears that Perry was busy during World War II. In this episode, the defendant is a buddy who fought beside him on D-Day. In later episodes, Perry reveals that he served on a minesweeper in the Pacific during the war.

Perry mentioned his time on Ulithi with an Air Corps buddy in "Misguided Missile" & his minesweeping in "Traveling Treasure." Mike Bedard 5.5.16.
+ In this episode it is not clear that Perry was at D-Day, he may have just heard Frank's "trouble" later. Fred Flintstone 12/20/2020
++ Raymond Burr "appeared in 'The Duke of Darkness' on Broadway in 1944 before entering the Navy. Mr. Burr left the Navy in 1946," his NY Times 1993/09/14 Obituary noted. Mike Bedard 4.23.15

At various times in his career, Burr and his managers and publicists offered spurious or unverifiable biographical details to the press and public. Burr's obituary in The New York Times states that he entered the US Navy in 1944, after The Duke in Darkness, and left in 1946, weighing almost 350 pounds (160 kg).[4] Although Burr may have served in the Coast Guard, reports of his service in the US Navy are false, as apparently are his statements[73] that he sustained battle injuries at Okinawa.[6]:57–58[74][a]

Other false biographical details include years of college education at a variety of institutions, being widowed twice, a son who died young, world travel and success in high school athletics.[6]:17, 20, 23–24, 40–41 Most of these claims were apparently accepted as fact by the press during Burr's lifetime, up until his death[4][12] and by his first biographer, Ona Hill.[3]:27[b] Per Wiki DLH 6/18/20

Credits Edit

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


Starring Raymond Burr
in Erle Stanly Gardner’s The Case of The Half-Wakened Wife
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins


Directed by Anton M. Leader
Teleplay by Stanley Niss
Story 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


Phyllis Avery as Marion Shelby
Stewart Bradley as Frank Lawton
Barbara Lawrence as Ellen Waring
Claude Akins as Phillip Dix
Jonathan Hole as Arthur Williams
Tom Palmer as Scott Shelby
Jason Johnson as Judge Ellsworth
Howard Petrie as Ben Parker
Peter Hansen as Howard Black
Paul E. Burns as Richy
Frederick Draper as Ted Young

Uncredited Actors
Don Anderson as Court Spectator


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 … Art Marks
Editorial Supervision … Art Seid, A.C.E.
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
Script Supervisor … Cosmo Genovese

This has been a CBS Television Network Production
Filmed in Hollywood by TCF Television Productions, Inc.

production number 031

Trivia Edit

CARS: 1958 Buick Century Convertible, white w/ black & white int., top down; 1958 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible, black, top down, Lic No NXX 417(?), Mason; and others. From The Cars by Greg Cockerill.
+ The license plate shown above (NXX 417) on Perry's new car was the fourth license plate used on one of his Cadillacs. Other tag numbers on his Cadillacs: FDG 268 (episode 4)...NCV 440 (episode 7)...NLU 525 (episodes 14, 18, 24). Submitted by H. Mason 10/6/14

Location: Lake: The opening set-up shot of the lake is identical to the opening shot of #7, “TCOT Angry Mourner.” Not only is the house on the hill the same, but the boats at the lake shore are in the same positions. Submitted by Charles Richmond, 10/24/2008. Vidcap here.
+ The lake mentioned above is the oft-used Malibou Lake and appears in numerous episodes. Posted by Eric Cooper 15 December 2009. More about the lake here.

Location: Pinewood: The short establishing shot of Pinewood appears identical to that of Sierra City seen in #31, “TCOT Fiery Fingers”, and #45, “TCOT Buried Clock”. Vidcap here. Sierra City here. Submitted by daveb, 3/4/2011.
+ It has been identified as Petaluma, CA (see ep #45 for details). Updated by Notcom, 092917.
++ And this same brief shot of Petaluma, California also appears as the establishing shot for Fresno (an entirely different rural town in California) in the movie "Thieves Highway." Details are here.

This is the first of three episodes directed by Anton M. Leader (he would also direct the first season installments #28, “TCOT Daring Decoy,” and #33, “TCOT Long-Legged Models”). Anton M. Leader was a prolific early radio and television director, most notably as director of radio’s Suspense from 1948 to 1950. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 1 December 2009.

Although credited, neither Lt. Tragg nor D.A. Burger appear in this episode. But Det. Sgt. Dix has everything under control. Submitted by gracenote, 9/1/2011.

Sightings: Distinguished Gentleman # 1 is in court on Perry's side. Submitted by BigBill767, Nov 12,2016.

Uncredited Actors: Don Anderson made the field trip to the courthouse in Pinewood to see Perry in action. Submitted by gracenote, 9/1/2011.

Photo Goofs: For a picture from an amateur photographer who usually develops his own pictures, the one taken by Arthur Williams of Ellen by the barbecue is not so great. In fact, it appears to be a composite photo of Ellen placed in front of the barbecue. She appears slightly out of focus and floating somewhat off the ground and her picture is a bit too large for the background making her seem at least as tall as Paul Drake when he was shown walking past the barbecue earlier. Also there is a large picnic table in front of the barbecue in Perry's picture which is missing in Arthur's pic and seems to be absent when Perry and Paul walk by although it's hard to tell. The table could have been moved after Arthur's picture or after Paul and Perry's first visit but it seems too large to be portable. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 9/9/13.
+ The shadows are obviously exaggerated and phony. Also, Mason says the photo Paul took at 1:55 PM shows shadows pointing directly east, but I think that's impossible that soon after solar noon at that latitude. I live on the western edge of my time zone, and now that Daylight Saving Time is in effect solar noon (the halfway point between sunrise and sunset) occurs today at 1:46 PM. At that time shadows point directly north. (Coincidentally, the latest solar noon for my location is also 1:55 PM, on the day DST begins in March.) Solar noon on today's date in L.A. is 12:54 PM. The latest solar noon in L.A. this year is 1:03 PM in mid-March after DST starts; the earliest is 11:37 AM in early November after DST ends. (I don't know if DST was in effect in California at that time.) We don't know the date on which Paul took his picture, but I think it's impossible that a photo taken in the L.A. region at 1:55 PM would show shadows pointing directly east. I would expect the shadows to be pointing northeast. Later in the day (depending on the time of year) I would expect to see shadows pointing due east. However, having never lived in that area, I could be wrong. Submitted by Alan Smithee, 4/11/2014.
++ In the photo taken by Paul, the [overly] heavy shadows are on the right, but the left side of the fireplace itself also has a shadow, meaning the sun isn't on that side either. Looks like the real shadow is behind the fireplace (meaning the sun is shining down on the front.) —yelocab 14NOV19.
+++ The climactic photo seems to have been taken from an elevated position, which is inconsistent with having been taken from a boat. Notcom, 090517.
++++ It also appears to have been taken from the shore. DOD 06/19/20

More Goofs: When Scott Shelby fires the shotgun, there is no recoil. When he walks toward the dock with the flashlight, the pattern of light on the ground is obviously not from the flashlight; it appears to be made by a spotlight off to the side. When Sgt. Dix is doing his initial questioning of Lawton and Mrs. Shelby in the Shelby home, when she gets up to leave, it sounds like a crew member coughs. When Ellen (Waring) Williams hands the incriminating photo to the prosecutor, there is a loud bang from somewhere. Submitted by Alan Smithee, 4/11/2014.
+ The "bang" was the sound of the assistant prosecutor's chair sliding across the floor as he stood up. Submitted by Kilo 5/27/2017.

Dialogue Mistake: When the prosecutor is done questioning Mrs. Williams, he says, "Thank you, Mrs. Shelby." Submitted by Scarter, 12-22-13

Although many details are changed between the novel and the episode one little fact remained: the murder took place on the 12th. In the episode, August was mentioned. In the novel, the month wasn't mentioned but the fact was stated that the day after was Friday the 13th, an unlucky day for Perry. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 9/9/13.

If you are at all interested in where 'Friday The 13th' came from as a expression, look up a book entitled '13, The Story Of The World's Most Popular Superstition', by Nathaniel Lachenmayer. Fascinating reading...Submitted by MikeReese, 8/12/2016.

At around 36 minutes into the episode on the Season 1 Volume 2 DVD, the picture begins to jump up and down during Mason's cross-examination of Marion Shelby, with a bit more at 38 minutes. Reminds one of what might happen during old-time syndication broadcasts on local stations showing 16mm film copies back in the 1970s. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 9/9/13.

Writer Stanley Niss is credited with two PM episodes, this one and also TCOT Married Moonlighter...MikeM. 8/12/2016

This is the first of seven PM appearances by Tom Palmer...MikeM. 8/12/2016

This is the first of four PM appearances for Barbara Lawrence...MikeM.8/12/2016

Stewart Bradley appeared in a second PM episode, TCOT Lover's Leap, in 1963...MikeM. 8/12/2016

This appears to be the only PM appearance by Claude Akins...MikeM. 8/12/2016

Pinky Rings: Perry, Paul, Arthur Williams, Scott Shelby...MikeM. 8/12/2016
+ While not a pinky ring, Frank wears a quite large ring on his right hand, even while going about his work as a handyman. jfh 15May2016.

Perry's Water Music At 23:14 (unedited,) as Perry is covering a napping Della, we hear a(n all too) brief, but clearly discernible, playing of the Romantic PM theme (see TCOT Angry Mourner). Submitted by Notcom, 081516.

Studly Do-Right Although the show fairly thrived on sex - in a 50's tight sweater/bikini sort of way - the perpetrators were, as a rule, of the female persuasion; I believe this was the only instance where an unclothed male offered what might be interpreted as ogling opportunities. So ladies - and gentlemen so inclined - enjoy the beefcake while it lasts. Notcom, 090517.
+ I'm afraid Frank (Stewart Bradley) hardly has a bod worth writing home about. Some of the Western shows from the 50s and 60s do us boy watchers better! I'm thinking of Hugh O'Brian, often shirtless on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp and Burt Reynolds as Quint the blacksmith on Gunsmoke....Submitted by JazzBaby, 7/10/2019.
++ Let us also sigh for the boys of “Surfside 6” and “Hawaiian Eye”. DOD 06/19/20

Office Bathroom: Perry is seen shaving while talking with Paul. Perry is standing in what looks to be, at minimum, a half bath. This is the only time we see this in the entire series. Also, the bathroom entrance is off a short hallway from Perry's office. There is a closed door there in all the other episodes, and we've seen people going through the door into or out of Perry's office. Allison P, 04/28/18.
+ And while we're on the subject, who shaves with their suit jacket on and buttoned? That's always driven me crazy, how Perry never, ever unbuttons his jacket. Submitted by Vladimir Estragon 9/28/2020.
++ In one earlier episode, this bathroom space was the law library which, of course, in all other episodes is to the right of that bust. For the rest of the series, this room doesn’t seem to have a particular designation. DOD 06/19/20

This is the first of two PM appearances for Phyllis Avery, who was the daughter of screenwriter Stephen Morehouse Avery. Phyllis Avery's second husband was actor/director Don Taylor...MikeM. 5/25/2018

D-Day This episode ran the morning of June 6, 2019 on MeTV as part of its regular rotation. Interesting that there is reference to the defendant participating in D-Day on the 75th anniversary of the invasion. SMLDave 6/6/2019

TCOT Floral Coffee Cup: In these early episodes, before the arrival of the Canonical Curious Coffee Set, we have seen art deco coffee cups, paper coffee cups, and now, a coffee cup self-served by Paul (where's Della when you need her?) which he holds while he watches Perry shaving in the Mysterious Vanishing Office Bathroom. The shape of this cup looks like a restaurant ware cup and the decoration is of an open white flower -- perhaps a dogwood, magnolia, or wild rose -- with a stylized stem and leaves. I don't recall seeing this lone cup in any other episode. Submitted by catyron, November 28, 2020.

Syndicated Cut: Many syndicated cuts essentially eliminate the character of Ben Parker by editing out the only scene in which he speaks. At 4:00 in the unedited version, Parker appears as an irate business associate of Shelby's. He confronts a clearly distressed Arthur Williams and demands to be paid $8500.00 Shelby owes him. In an amusing moment, Parker literally picks up the diminutive Williams and moves him out of his way. Third_Generation_Fan 12/26/2020.

Slightness is Relative - The "slight discrepancy" Mr. Williams found in Mr. Shelby's personal account, $120,000, would be just under $1.15 million in 2021 -- no wonder the courtroom spectators laughed! Also, the $8500 mentioed in the previous entry would be over $80,000 today. OLEF641 12/3/21

Gavel Tally - Judge gavels to adjourn court for lunch before Mr. Williams testifies to identify his photographs - oddly, he bangs the side of his gavel. OLEF641 12/18/21

When Shelby calls Frank, Frank asks "What do you want?" clearly indicating he knows who called, but Shelby identifies himself anyway. Later Shelby tells him to come to the dock and says "hurry" twice but deliberately cuts the phone cord before he says it the second time. There's no way Frank could have heard the second "hurry" so why say it? Wiseguy70005, 4/08/24.

Comments Edit

From the first scene, Frannk has a gash on his forehead. Is there any explanation offered? jfh 09Jan2024

The prosecutor makes the interesting observation in court that Perry is “hoist with his own petard.” A few minutes later, Paul repeats the sentiment privately to Perry. I was curious about this metaphor. According to Wikipedia, this is defined as falling into to one's own trap. Hoist means to be thrown into the air. Petard—a small bomb—is from medieval French. Hamlet is the origin of the phrase. Oddly enough, I heard the same phrase several days later in a Season 7 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Submitted by Kim 7/21/2010.
+ Perry to Paul: "Shelby FLIMFLAMMED everyone he did business with"; the term derives from Icelandic word FLIMSKA/"Mockery" [Webster's Encyc. Unabr. Dict.]. Mike Bedard 5.6.2016 MeTV viewing reaction.

I love the striped pajamas on Mr. Shelby. They even have a pocket! Submitted by gracenote, 9/1/2011.
+ There's also a pocket on Frank's pajama top --- which Frank now-stylishly front-tucked into his trousers. jfh 09Jan2024

In the course of Arthur’s testimony, there are two brief but dramatic overhead shots of the courtroom. I don’t recall shots from this angle in any other episode. DOD 06/19/20
+ There's also an interesting overhead camera angle as the initial courtroom scene opens: we see the judge appear under the furls of the American flag. jfh 09Jan2024

Sometime between the scene at the dock and the arrival of the police, Frank takes time to put on socks, but still wears his pajama top. When Frank says the police had no right to read his journal, he is absolutely correct. They had no warrant. DOD 06/19/20

The look that Paul gives actor Jonathan Hole (Arthur Williams) when he first appears in a scene says much more than words could: it's apparent that Paul (and everybody else!) don't believe a guy like THAT could attract a woman like Barbara Lawrence (Ellen Waring)... and he is about the most nervous of nervous Nellies I can think of in the series! Submitted by MikeReese, 7/10/2013.

Perry's grilling of the hapless Arthur Williams on the witness stand is one of the longest--7-1/2 minutes--and most memorable in the entire series. Jonathan Hole's performance as the nervous, twitchy, sweaty Williams is a joy to behold. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 13 April 2014.
+ OK, I can't hold back, yet ANOTHER episode with a character named Arthur. So, I went to IMDb and did a count. Besides Lt. Tragg, there were at least 21 men named Arthur and one woman with the last name of Arthur -- at LEAST 21 because on the master list of cast at IMDb only one character name is given for each actor, and we know that many actors made repeated appearances as different characters. It was NOT worth the time to check ALL those for possibly MORE Arthurs. I will now be able, I hope, to resist commenting on this in the future ;-) OLEF641 10/31/2020

In the scene in Ellen’s apartment when she is asked to explain the wet car seat and men’s shoes, I’m surprised Arthur wasn’t asked to try on the shoes. DOD 06/19/20

Yet another episode (I've lost count) featuring an affluent, childless, unhappily-married couple. What a bleak view of marriage we get from this show. No wonder Perry and Paul remain bachelors (although I'm starting to wonder if Perry likes girls). Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 13 April 2014.
+Don't let it get you down, 65tpt, just remember that happily married couples rarely murder each other. Submitted by DyNama, 5 Sep 2017.

For the second episode in a row, and the fifth time in the first twenty-six episodes:
      "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned
      Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."
Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 13 April 2014.

When Perry and Paul are talking in Perry's office, Perry is using an electic shaver, as though preparing for his day after an all-nighter at work, he gathers up his overcoat to leave with Paul, then hesitates and looks down ... at Della sleeping on the office sofa. He then covers her with his overcoat. The sleeping Della first snuggles under his overcoat, then actually cuddles under it. Barbara Hale had the amazing ability to convey emotions without speaking a word. jfh 15May2017.

When Perry and Della arrive at the Shelby's place they are met by an officer with a portable police radio/telephone. The officer uses the radio to direct someone to start searching the lake. When he hangs up the radio antenna slaps him in the nose causing him to recoil slightly. It happens so quick you might not even notice. Submitted by Kilo 3/15/2018.

The establishing shot of the courthouse is obviously very old stock footage - not one car in the scene is much later than 1940. DOD 05/25/18

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

In the novel, Ellen surprises Arthur with the announcement to Perry and the police that they are getting married because she realizes what Arthur has done and she wouldn't have to testify against him. She wanted to marry him but he had no plans to propose and so tricks Arthur into marrying her. In the episode Arthur looks shocked by the marriage announcement and, as in the novel, they do get married, but in the episode the marriage plot is not developed any further. They might as well have not gotten married or have been married already. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 9/9/13.
+In the episode, the fact that Ellen obviously surprises Arthur telegraphs that Ellen quickly realized that with Mason snooping around she needed protection in case the police try to turn her accomplice Arthur against her. She would never marry Arthur otherwise, so that is why they are not already married -- it is consistent with her character. Arthur and Ellen's plan to blackmail the murderous but rich widow (seemingly cooked-up after Mr. Shelby's murder) also explains why they did not come forward with the photos (see below for other comments on this). Fred Flintstone 12/17/2020.

Is this the only time the defendant in the novel becomes the murderer in the episode based on it? Submiited by Wiseguy70005, 9/9/13.

Ellen and Arthur withheld evidence that would have made the court session unnecessary. What were the consequences? One thing that I have found slightly annoying on this series was the lack of tying up the loose ends in the final scene. Many of the shows don't mention what happened to accomplices and characters guilty of other crimes. Submitted by H. Mason 10/6/14
+Yes, I don't understand what Arthur's motivation was (other than the $10,000—and perhaps future blackmail?). But he was making himself an accomplice to murder. He could have taken the photo to the police. —yelocab 14NOV19.
+Arthur and Ellen are twised but consistent. It is all about the money, and protecting themselves. Fred Flintstone 12/17/2020.
I thought Frank was finally going to find happiness with Marion. I guess not. —yelocab 14NOV19.

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