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#29: The Case of the
Hesitant Hostess
Original Airdate: 04/05/58

Summary Edit

From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
Perry offers to defend a man free of charge because he knows the guy is still hurting over the accidental death of his wife and kids eight years ago. It pays off when Perry turns up a heroin- smuggling ring at the Danceland Ballroom.

Credits Edit

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


Starring Raymond Burr
in Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of The Hesitant Hostess
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins


Directed by Christian Nyby
Teleplay by Al C. Ward
Ben Brady | Producer
Produced by CBS Television in association with Paisano Productions
Gail Patrick Anderson | Executive Producer
Sam White | Associate Producer


Karen Sharpe as Inez Kaylor
Fred Sherman as Albert Sanders
June Vincent as Martha Rayburn
Les Tremayne as Fred Archer
Ned Wever as Joe Gibbs
Betty Utey as Kim Lane
Robin Raymond as Secretary
Gil Frye as Det. Ralph Faulkner
Jacqueline Holt as Christine
Michael Mason as Larry Coles
Fay Roope as Judge
George Cisar as Mr. Wickett
Robert Karnes as Det. Purvis
Paul Serra as Court Stenographer
John Alvin as Sam Walsh

Uncredited Actors
Lee Miller as:

  • Sgt. Brice
  • Courtroom Spectator

Don Anderson as:

  • Ballroom Dancer
  • Courtroom 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 Supervisor … Art Seid, A.C.E.
Film Editor … Clarence Kolster, 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.

Trivia Edit

CARS: 1957 Mercury 4dr hardtop, 2-tone: light & medium colors, 1957 Ford 2dr sedan, light color. From The Cars by Greg Cockerill.
+ Speaking of cars, dig the late 30's, early 40's autos in the opening scene. What dusty vault did they find this stock footage in? Submitted by Bill-W2XOY on 08/26/13.

Kim Lane’s death is front-page news in the Los Angeles Star-News. Normally the Los Angeles Chronicle is the newspaper of choice for the Perry Mason show. Submitted by PaulDrake33, 6/3/2009.
+ A city the size of L.A., of course, had more than one newspaper in the 1950s. The Los Angeles Star-News appears again in episode 41 TCOT Lucky Loser. A third L.A. paper is mentioned in episode 139 TCOT Shapely Shadow and a different newspaper, The Los Angeles Clarion, is seen in episode 181 TCOT Witless Witness. Submitted by H. Mason 9/26/14\\ ++ A fifth L.A. paper, The Evening Star, is in episode 156 TCOT Playboy Pugilist. A copy of it is not shown. A reporter on the staff is in the story. Added by H. Mason 9/29/14
+++ A Los Angeles CHRONICLE front page appeared in the "Charlie Harris At Large" episode of The Rockford Files (1975). Mike Bedard 4.29.15
++++ A facsimile of the (Daily) Star-News is also seen in the 1950 film In a Lonely Place. "Star News" is, in fact, the name of the newspaper of record of Pasadena, and while it might seem confusing to utilize a name actually in use in the area, one wonders if it was familiar to script writers.
+++++ A sixth publication, Tribune - tho maybe only fifth if we assume the "Star-News" and "Evening Star" are one in the same - will be mentioned in episode 59 (TCOT Stuttering Bishop). Notcom, (revised) 12-05-19.

Uncredited Actors: Don Anderson plays two more extra roles in this episode. Early on he’s seen on the dance floor at the ballroom. Later he’s a courtroom spectator at the robbery trial. Submitted by FredK 25, Oct 2010.
+ I caught a sighting of Don Anderson showing some fancy footwork on the dance floor in the opening scene. It’s the camera view from above; he’s under the “dance floor ball” to the right of the sailor and his dance partner. The guy had moves! From Kelvin Chambliss via email, posted by daveb, 5/15/2011.
++ Unacknowledged but identifiable courtroom spectators include Lee Miller, who may still be playing the Sgt. Brice role he played earlier in the episode, and boxer-turned-actor Tom Kennedy, who never stops chewing gum.

Location: About 31 minutes in we see the exterior of the building where Universal Model Agency is located. If you look closely you can see First Trust Building etched on the side. This building, built in 1927, is on the National Register of Historic Buildings and is located at 595 E. Colorado Blvd in Pasadena. Recent picture here. Submitted by Eric Cooper 11 January 2011.
+ "The First Trust Building & Garage, aka Lloyd's Bank, incorporated the Mediterranean Revival, Renaissance Revival & Beaux-Arts styles. The design features...a cupola, frieze and balustrade. CALTECH Professor R.R. Martel designed the...Earthquake-proof support important advancement [that] became a Standard form of construction," en.wikipedia reports. Mike Bedard 4.29.15

Sightings: Distinguished Gentleman #1, Distinguished Gentleman #2, and Distinguished Lady #4 are among the courtroom spectators today. More on this page. Submitted by gracenote, 9/2/2011.
+ (Also Continuity Error:) Earlier, a passenger in the elevator is Distinguished Gentleman #2, who then impossibly appears in the courtroom when Drake walks in. He also magically floats around the courtroom, appearing on one side and then the other. Submitted by gracenote, 9/2/2011.
++ Sasha Magaloff shows at the first trial with glasses. Submitted by BigBill767, Nov 11, 2016.
+++ Slight correction: Distinguished Gentleman #2 is the elevator operator, not a passenger. Submitted by JazzBaby, 7/17/2019.
++++ "Sasha Magaloff" is now known to be the actor Mitchell Rhein. Submitted by catyron, December 6, 2020.

Syndicated cuts: The Danceland sign at the beginning of the episode [see picture above]; scene with Mason and Della about whether Martha was with Archer during the robbery; boys playing baseball, finding the body; Della pouring Perry a cup of coffee; second jail scene with Sanders now charged with murder; the Los Angeles Star-News headline; scene with Kim and Paul before Larry leaves; shot of the plane and downtown Las Vegas. \\ Additional Hallmark cuts: Mason telling Sanders he made inquiries about him [this edit saved Hallmark all of 3 seconds]; Mason and Della pretending to be repossessing the mink coat and, after Mr. Wickett leaves, Perry telling Della to search the bedroom [or everything between the exterior shot of the apartment and the clock that reads 7:37]; Burger saying Mason is insulting the intelligence of the court by prolonging the trial, Mason saying he will prove pertinence, telling Martha her purse is unusual and her saying that it was made for her; Tragg arriving with Kim's real purse, Sanders thanking Perry and Mason telling Burger and Tragg it was just flour in the phony purse [the Hallmark scene ends with the judge saying court is adjourned with a piece of music (edited from the real act end) dubbed over the scene to create a phony end]. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/25/12.

Goof: Perry's client's last name is listed in the credits as "Sanders" but most of the other characters--including Perry himself--seem to pronounce it "Saunders." Submitted by Alan Smithee, 4-15-14.

Bad stenographer: The stenographer wasn't doing a very accurate job. Martha Rayburn's testimony was as follows:
"She was Archer's girlfriend and she threatened to go to his family unless he paid her off...oh no no, he, he paid off, all right, in fact I cashed one of the checks for him myself."
When Perry has the stenographer read back the remarks, it was read as follows:
"Q: Was she Archer's girlfriend?
"A: Yes, she threatened to tell his family if he didn't pay he paid all right, I cashed one of his checks myself." Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 12/30/14.
+ Whose life is it anyway?, one wonders about the possible ramifications of misstated testimony. Another example occurs in #179 TCOT Skeleton's Closet, that time by Perry. lowercase masonite, 3/5/16.

According to imdb, Betty Utey was born in Finland in 1935. She was married to director Nicholas Ray from 1958-1964...MikeM. 8/17/2016

Karen Sharpe was married to producer/director Stanley Kramer from 1966 until his death in 2001...MikeM. 8/17/2016

This was the first of five PM appearances by June Vincent...MikeM. 8/17/2016

According to an online obituary, writer Al C. Ward added the Raymond Burr sequences for the American version of a Japanese Godzilla movie. He reportedly insisted that he receive no credit for this work...MikeM. 8/17/2016

Fay Roope was born in Massachusetts in 1893. He graduated from Harvard University in 1916...MikeM. 8/17/2016

Timeline: This episode aired as #29, but I believe it was filmed fairly early on. That's because the books on Perry's credenza are the older Corpus Juris, with brown covers, rather than the spiffy blue Corpus Juris Secundum, which show up midway through the first season. JohnK, 12 March 2018

Another clue this is an early episode - the witness stand is the old style, with the front rail in line with the judges stand. From Martha Rayburn’s testimony, it is easy to see why that rail would later be pushed forward about a foot. She is asked to identify Saunders, but there is no way for the camera to get both of them in one shot. DOD 06/24/20

This is the only PM appearance for Ned Wever, who was president of a drama organization at Princeton University. On the radio, Ned Wever portrayed detectives Bulldog Drummond and Dick Tracy. Ned Wever passed in 1984 at the age of 82...MikeM. 5/30/2018

Gavel Tally - Early in the episode, as court is adjourned "until Monday", Archer bursts out with, "That's not true!", and the judge gavels him to order; in the later court scenes, the judge gavels to adjourn court. OLEF641 12/18/21

Comments Edit

In Episode 15 (TCOT Fan Dancer’s Horse), Robert Bice plays Detective Faulkner. But here in Episode 29—the same season—Gil Frye plays Faulkner. Submitted by Ed Zoerner, 6/8/09. For the record, Robert Bice's character was Frank Faulkner and Gil Frye's character was called Ralph Faulkner. Either one of the actors or someone in script supervision made sure that the names were different. Submitted by FredK 18 May 2012.
+ In Desperate Daughter, Paul Drake referred to Faulkner as "half Bird Dog," but the character did not appear. Mike Bedard 4.29.15
++ When Ralph Faulkner led Inez into the courthouse, I did a double and then a triple take. Ralph Faulkner looked enough like Perry to be his brother. Submitted by PaulDrake 33. 29 April 2015.

The opening shot of the dance hall is obviously old stock footage - not a car in the scene is much later than 1940 or so. Also, just before Inez goes into Martha’s office, there is stock footage of the interior of the hall. The women’s clothes are all of 1940’s vintage. The exterior shot of the Las Vegas motel is taken from the Marilyn Monroe movie "Niagara". Saunders never is cleared of the robbery charge, and we never learn how Kim was killed. DOD 05/30/18

Danceland uses Della’s unique filing system - a single drawer for each letter of the alphabet. 07/25/22

Couldn't Perry arrange for his client to get a shave and a suit or at least get his hair combed before his appearance in court? Perhaps because Perry didn't get a fee for this case? Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/25/12.

I believe this is the earliest episode where Perry plays his "What if I told you..." trick on a witness, in this case, Martha Rayburn. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 15 April 2014.
+ He does it again in #46 TCOT Married Moonlighter. 65tosspowertrap, 5-10-2014.
++ He also uses the phrase "Suppose I told you..." in other episodes. As a matter of fact at the end of this episode, this is what he tells Burger and Tragg. Submitted by HamBurger, 9/10/2017

Della has an "Undercover" assignment outside the office & courthouse; Paul refers to dropping "Cyanide pellets" rather than saying "Gas Chamber." Mike Bedard 4.29.15
+ Interesting observation. Paul is talking with Inez (22:20 on the 2006 Paramount DVD): "You have a change of heart, and an innocent man pays for it, huh?" Inez, sarcastically: "Oh honey, send him my regrets." Paul: "He'll appreciate that, right up to the time they drop the cyanide pellets." And in #36 TCOT Prodigal Parent Paul is telling Perry and Della (20:49 on the 2006 Paramount DVD): "I understand Burger's uncovered a hunk of evidence that's guaranteed to put Harrison in the gas chamber." Per California was averaging between 8 and 9 gas chamber executions a year during 1941-1957, evidently enough to keep the morbid thoughts in contemporary screenplays. lowercase masonite, 1/30/16.

This episode has some of the best music of the entire series, at least in my opinion -- in particular the jump number when we first see the ballroom. Sounds a bit like the late 40s material of Bob Wills. JohnK, 3 December 2015

When Perry is examining the purse in his office he opens the purse's flap but the mirror on the inside of the flap has been removed. Either that or the mirror's surface has been sprayed with a dulling agent so there wouldn't be any accidental light reflection into the camera when Perry opens it. Likewise, when Paul is putting stuff back into the purse there is no reflection of his hand in the mirror. Submitted by Kilo 3/19/2018.
+ The mirror is covered with heroin powder, blocking its ability to reflect. That's how Perry figures out what the modeling agency is really up to; he tastes the powder. Submitted by JazzBaby, 7/19/2019.
++ Any residue would be on the backside of the mirror, of course. Kilo 9/23/2019.

Powerful Paul: At about 24 minutes on the DVD, Paul Drake breaks through a locked door by kicking it open (on the first strike). Apparently a superior method to what Tragg's boys resort to -- bumping doors open with repeated blows from their shoulders. This reflects William Hopper's military training, I suppose. JohnK, 12 March 2018

Pushy: In the opening scene inside Danceland you can see a girl with a striped top being spun around by her dance partner. Coming out of the spin she uses a stiff arm and pushes another dancer completely out of the shot. I'm not sure if that was supposed to be part of the scene or not but it makes me laugh every time I see it. Kilo 12/19/2018.

It seems implausible that, even in 1958, someone would think it a cost-effective method of smuggling heroin by flying someone to Rio to bring back a few grams of the stuff, for it would seem that's all the "secret compartment" in the handbag could hold. Submitted by francis, 1/17/12

The word "snow" has been used for "heroin" for over 100 years. See for example the 1989 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, #4.d. of its definition for snow: "slang (orig. U.S.). Cocaine; occas. heroin or morphine....1915 Policeman's Monthly Dec. 17/3 [page 17 column 3] 'One day, his pal found him depressed and told him to take a little sniff of "snow", as heroin is known to the vernacular of the criminal.'" Submitted by (lowercase, with a comma and period) masonite, 05/14/18.

In the syndicated version recently shown (July 2012) during Martha Rayburn's final testimony, in between Perry asking her "Was Kim Lane alive at the time of the robbery?" and her answer there is a frame with a white background and black upside down letters reading "SPLICE HERE" with an arrow pointing downwards. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/25/12.

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

This show contains no murder trial. Perry is still working on a robbery trial when the identity of the guilty party is revealed. Submitted by PaulDrake33, 6/3/2009.
+ The novel on which this episode was based had some oddities as well. The court case was already in progress at the start of the novel and the only murder had occurred before the novel began. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 12/30/14.

In the epilogue, Della tells Perry that he solved two crimes in one: a murder and a robbery. She failed to include that he also broke up an international heroine-smuggling racket. jfh 23Oct2019
+ I think the final score is correct: it's true that he didn't get credit for breaking up the heroin-smuggling ring that "has enraged every thinking person in America" but he also did credit for "solving" a robbery that he didn't ("So who did rob Mr. Archer?" Della asks. "Who knows?" Perry relies...correctly) In fact it's unrealistic that the case would have been so readily dismissed, since all the testimony established - as it pertained to the actual robbery trial - was that Martha Rayburn had been impeached. Notcom 102419.
++ Perry didn't solve the robbery, but he did absolve his client, saying that the evidenced has simply been dropped in Albert Sanders's trashcan. jfh 24Jun2020

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