#57: The Case of the
Original Airdate: 02/21/59
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
Frankie Laine, the singer of TV theme songs (“Rawhide”), made his acting debut in this story. He plays Danny Ross, a funny man with an unfunny problem. His agent, Charlie Goff, double-crossed him, and told the network that the comedian wasn’t right for a big project that Danny had developed. Danny is mad and goes to Perry for help, accompanied by long-time friend Freddie Green. But since Danny had only an oral agreement with Goff, Perry has a tough job ahead of him. It becomes even tougher when Goff is found murdered.
The evidence points toward Danny’s friend Freddie Green. Perry agrees to defend Green, but must get into jive and beatnik lingo to understand the clues that lead him to a bohemian club called the Purple Wall, and to the killer. Continuing with the musical theme of the plot, jazz musician and bandleader Bobby Troup also appears in this episode.
Starring Raymond Burr
in The Case of THE JADED JOKER
Based Upon Characters Created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Barbara Hale as Della Street
William Hopper as Paul Drake
William Talman as Hamilton Burger
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg
Directed by Gerd Oswald
Story by William L. Stuart
Teleplay by Milton Krims
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
Frankie Laine as Danny Ross
Bobby Troup as Buzzie
Walter Burke as Freddie Green
Tom Drake as Cleve Niles
Mary LaRoche as Lisa Hiller
Martha Vickers as Sheila Hayes
Harry Jackson as Charles Goff
S. John Launer as Judge
Jon Lormer as Coroner
Gene Wang | Story Consultant
Production Supervisor … J. Paul Popkin
Story Editor … Alice Young
Director of Photography … Frank Redman, A.S.C.
Art Direction …
- Lyle Wheeler
- Lewis Creber
Editorial Supervision … Art Seid, A.C.E.
Film Editor … Richard W. Farrel
Assistant Director … Morris Harmell
Casting … Harvey Clermont
Makeup … Richard Hamilton
Hair Stylist … Annabell, S.C.H.
Wardrobe Supervision … Dick James
Set Decoration … Walter M. Scott, Charles Q. Vassar
Properties … Ray Thompson
Production Sound Mixer … Roy Meadows
Script Supervision … William E. Orr
Jaded Joker Theme composed and played by Bobby Troup
Filmed in Hollywood by TCF Television Productions, Inc.
A CBS Television Network Production
CARS: No cars. From The Cars by Greg Cockerill.
Anomaly: Mary LaRoche, listed as Lisa (as in Lisa Kudrow) Hiller, is called Liza (as in Liza Minnelli) throughout the show. [D. A. Supernaw]
The book, Legal Medicine, Pathology and Toxicology, by Gonzales, Vance, Helpern and Umberger, that is discussed in court was indeed an authoritative textbook on the subject at the time. Helpern was a friend of ESG. Submitted by daveb, date unknown.
+ In an extensive forword, Gardner dedicated his book The Case Of The Hesitant Hostess (1953) to his friend, Dr. Milton Helpern (1902-1977), who for 20 years was New York City's Chief Medical Examiner. submitted by DyNama, 9/3/2014
Martha Vickers (who played Carmen Sternwood in the classic Bogart film The Big Sleep, who was one of Mickey Rooney's wives, and who died much too early at age 46) makes her only Perry Mason appearance in this episode. Submitted by PaulDrake33.
About halfway into the episode Paul reports that Buzzie was with a “weird-looking chick” named Sheila Hayes who drives a 1958 300 SLR that costs $13,000. That same Mercedes in nice shape would be over $400,000 today. Posted by Eric Cooper, 23 December 2009.
Why does ritzy Sheila Hayes hang around with Buzzie anyway? DOD 08/03/20
Sightings: Little Old Lady in a Hat appears (hazily) in the first courtroom scene on the defendant’s side. Another recurring “guest” is a distinguished woman with long hair and a hat (a.k.a Distinguished Lady #1). Submitted by gracenote, 8/19/2010.
+ Other spectators include “Miss Carmody” and Quiet Old Man #1 (who is seen in an unusual profile view during the exit from the courtroom). And that may be Distinguished Gentleman #1’s distinctive hairline behind the closeup of Sheila Hayes. Is it? Submitted by alan_sings, 16 Oct 2010.
+The Distinguished Lady #4 watches from both Burger's and Perry's side. Submitted by BigBill767, 2/4/17.
The man playing the coroner is one of the more prolific character actors from classic TV. Submitted by gracep, 19 August 2010.
+ That's Jon Lormer, especially familiar to Star Trek fans for his role in the show's pilot episode, "The Cage," and others. Submitted by francis, 7/11/14.
++ "The Cage" was the Unaired, 1st pilot (1965); Jon was uncredited, but he did appear in 2 credited roles in '67/'68. Mike Bedard 6.19.16
+++ Extensive footage from the pilot, "The Cage" was incorporated into the two-part episode "Menagerie" OLEF641 12/15/2020
The statuette that Sheila Hayes taps on Harry Jackson’s desk as she says “that” is of course a miniature reproduction of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker. Submitted by gracenote, 4/11/2011.
When she calls to report the murder, the secretary gives the address as 1-1-7-2 Wilshire. Since LAPD has jurisdiction, this may put the office in the vicinity of Wilshire and Lucas Av in downtown Los Angeles...MikeM...6/20.2016
Uncredited Actors: Don Anderson is the bailiff guarding the prisoner Green as he speaks to his attorney Perry. Later he turns up in the courtroom, and then escorts the defendant out again. Submitted by gracenote, 4/11/2011.
This is the only PM writing credit for William Stuart...MikeM. 9/26/2016
Tom Drake is perhaps best known as 'the boy next door' in Meet Me In St. Louis opposite Judy Garland. One of my favorite of his roles was in the somewhat obscure 1959 western Warlock in which he plays a cold-blooded criminal. The movie stars Anthony Quinn and Henry Fonda; Trekkie alert: DeForest Kelley has a smallish but fairly pivotal role in Warlock. OLEF641; 10/17/2017.
This is the first of five PM appearances for veteran character actor Walter Burke (Freddie Green), whose parents were Irish immigrants living in Brooklyn. Beginning on the stage in New York, Burke transitioned to movies and then television. His last television roles were in 1980. Walter Burke passed in 1984 at the age of 75...MikeM. 7/6/2018
TCOT Substitute Coffee Cops: My gosh, in this episode, as we await the entrance of the Canonical Curious Coffee Cups, we get BOTH sets of Substitute Cups. First Danny and Freddie eat their bagels, schmear, and Nova Scotia lox on the conical art deco set with the painted rings and the 7-shaped handles. Then, in Perry's office, Perry, Della, and Paul sip and chat with the so-far-unidentified floral / aquatic set of restaurant ware. Submitted by catyron, December 31st, 2020.
TCOT Missing Blink: This is a small point, but hey, on this wiki we are detail oriented! In this episode, and others in similar high-powered office settings, the push buttons on the phones don't light up when they erupt into a ring. Too much work and wiring for the prop people I expect. Having stared down that sort of phone for years, for me it's a conspicuous absence. JohnK, 17 August 2021
When Tragg first encounters the bohemian jazz piano player, he dips his finger into the ashtray and smells it. Then the piano player offers Tragg a drag on his cigarette, which Tragg also smells without taking a puff. In this 1959 episode, what does Tragg expect to find in the ashtray and cigarette? Submitted by unknown, 1/31/2009.
+He probably smelled marijuana in the air, as the ensuing conversation makes it [vaguely] clear —yelocab 27DEC19
Buzzie takes the cigarette from his mouth, puts it in the ashtray, which Tragg then picks up and sniffs. As he does this, another cigarette has magically appeared in Buzzies’s mouth. DOD 07/19/19
+Nope. That's what I thought, but I rewound and Buzzie has the cigarette in his mouth, takes it out and taps it on the ashtray and then puts it back in his mouth. Tragg picks up a different cigarette in the ashtray and sniff it. —yelocab 27DEC19
Shelia Hayes’s apartment has the same ceiling fixture as in Perry’s office. Love the two shots of Goff under the desk, with one eye staring at us. DOD 08/17/21
I’d say Lt. Tragg was testing for marijuana. While it’s not clear that Tragg actually picks it up, it’s clear he threw a butt back into the ashtray. So rather than smelling his fingers, we’re supposed to think he’s smelling a butt. This probably explains the subsequent interaction between Tragg and the appropriately named “Buzzie” as in “stoned.” Note Tragg says “I thought I smelled ‘tea.‘” Tea would be beat for “marijuana.” “Shamus” would, of course, be “detective/cop.” Submitted by billp, 1/31/2009.
Buzzie is, of course, Bobby Troup. Troup was a man of parts—composer, musician, etc. There was the Bobby Troup Trio. He composed the hit song, “Route 66.” Watch and listen here. Although I didn’t care for the show, I remember him as Dr. Joe Early on the TV show Emergency. Submitted by billp, 1/31/2009.
+ Bobby Troup also composed "The Girl Can't Help It," fashioned into a hit by Little Richard. Wikipedia tells us Troup wrote it for Fats Domino, but that version didn't happen. JohnK, 10 December 2020
There‘s some great dialogue in this episode; e.g, Perry asks: “What’s the ‘Purple Wall’?” Paul answers: “It’s a beat joint—no liquor, no life, no laughs. Just sitting around hating yourself.” Submitted by billp, 1/31/2009.
+ Lt. Tragg's Beatnik Slang, at the end, is Priceless! Mike Bedard 6.20.16 MeTV viewing.
I always liked Frankie Laine and who could forget Rawhide?! Listen here. Of course this reminds me of another great Western and its theme song, The Rifleman. What great themes TV had in those days! It may sound nostalgic, but it’s accurate to say that TV generally was far superior to the junk it is today. That covers the full spectrum—drama, comedy, news, etc. TV is really dumbed down today. I guess it’s the times we live in. Submitted by billp, 1/31/2009.
++I'm guessing there was also a lot of junk on TV back then that got forgotten, and only the good stuff lasted through the years via reruns. So your opinion might be a bit skewed. But then again, with only 3 networks, budgets were probably higher. —yelocab 27DEC19
The Golden Age of television did indeed have its share of long forgotten clunkers. I think a major difference then was that so many television performers, even into the late 60’s, had decades of experience in theater, radio, movies, and even vaudeville. There was an ease and naturalness to their acting I rarely see in today’s television. I also miss all the wonderful variety shows and music specials. DOD 08/17/21
The whole image of being “born again and square” and “stuffed into the knee-hole of the desk” is great! Generally, TV shows and movies that are too contemporary or topical don’t age well. This is true of many TV shows, especially those from the 70s on. This was when “message” TV/movies started in earnest. There are many problems with this. The least being it tends to quickly “date” the series or movie. Generally, Perry Mason tended to focus on more basic or archetypal motivations. These tend to be timeless. The late 50s/early 60s fashions are also classic. They look good in any era. So, as a rule, Perry Mason doesn’t really appear dated. Only in the last years of the series when it started to get more topical in story and “look and feel” does it start to feel dated. The instant episode exhibits a bit of this problem with the “beat” context, but because the story, dialogue and acting are strong, it still comes off pretty well. Submitted by billp, 1/31/2009.
Both “Jaded Joker” and the following episode, “Caretaker’s Cat,” open with a piano tune. In “Jaded Joker,” Bobby Troup seems to be improvising. In “Caretaker’s Cat,” Judy Lewis is playing a finished composition. I may have a tin ear, but it seems to me both these tunes are very similar. I’m guessing they are the same tune. Agree or disagree? Submitted by billp, 2/22/2009.
+The tune -- played three times in "Jaded Joker", once at the beginning, once when Tragg barges in on the Ross apartment, and once at the end at the Purple Wall -- is listed as the "Jaded Joker Theme" by Bobby Troup in the end credits, but to my ear it sounds startlingly like "Ruby, My Dear", a jazz standard by Thelonious Monk. I think Bobby Troup was one of the greats -- this is said with no disrespect. OldDave 8/9/20
++ Bobby Troup, an accomplished musician and songwriter, looks to be playing the piano pieces in the show; this adds to the authenticity of the episode. All the more’s the shame, then, that toward the end the guitar music is so badly faked by a crazed-looking extra who clearly has no idea how to play. Submitted by Ed Zoerner, 2/21/2011 +++Shows in that era almost always had extras playing instruments they clearly never played and photographers who didn’t know how to hold a camera. Apparently nobody cared.
Danny and Freddie are a gay couple living together, though this is not noticed in dialogue. Early in the episode, the pair descend the staircase in bathrobes. Freddy alibis Danny for the night of the murder. We viewers are so busy ogling the beatnik lifestyle, decoding beatnik lingo and puzzling over showbiz Yiddish, that the unusual (for 50s television) household slips right by us. Submitted by DebbieF, 5/7/13
+ The dialogue may have indirectly referenced this relationship. At one point, Perry asks Paul "What's the relationship between Danny and Freddie?". Paul replies "I don't know". I'm quoting from memory, maybe someone can check. Submitted by Bill-W2XOY on 08/15/2013.
++ The dialogue is: Paul: "...before he [Freddie] latched on to Danny Ross"; Perry: "What do you mean by 'latched on'?"; Paul: "I don't know yet." OldDave 8/9/2020
+++ My impression was that Freddie was just a flunky, a hanger-on, like Buzzie. He wasn't quite as detached as the pianist, but I didn't see any sparks flying. That they both came down in bathrobes doesn't mean they'd emerged from the same bedroom. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Submitted by francis, 7/11/14.
+++ Doesn't Freddie mention he talked Frankie out of suicide? That's why Frankie felt obligated/grateful to Freddie. Submitted by JJ, 8/17/21.
Why wasn't Buzzie given a name? Submitted by H. Mason 10/17/14
Beer For Breakfast: It's not clear what time Danny is having breakfast (bagels and lox) but beer appears to be the beverage of choice. When Freddie comes down to join him there are four bottles of beer on his side of the table. Two are already open ready to be poured. Submitted by Kilo 4/15/2018.
Sheila Hayes and Perry share a taste in ceiling light fixtures. Walter Burke and HM Wynant will eventually play suspects, killers, and prosecutors in various episodes. Frankie Lane joins Cecil Kellaway in getting a rare solo end credit. In the final scene in the night club, the guitarists fingering has no relation at all to the music heard.
As in the best shows, this one leaves us with an interesting legal question. Freddie claims Goff was already dead when he shot him; Buzzie claims Goff was dead when he stuffed him under the desk. What if both were wrong? If Buzzie were to ask Perry to defend him, Perry would be in the awkward position of trying to show Goff survived Buzzie’s attack and it was indeed the gunshot that killed him. DOD 07/05/18 + Freddie will probably at least be charged with defiling a corpse
At breakfast the next morning after the murder Danny tells Freddie about Goff’s murder he heard about on the radio 10 o’clock news. Later at the murder scene Perry arrives for a meeting he was to have with Goff unaware the he was dead. Paul needs to do a better job of keeping his boss in the loop. BTW, do you think it’s odd that news of the murder is on the radio but the police are still on the scene with the body still under the desk? Kilo 1/1/2022 (Yes, I’m watching PM reruns on new years eve.)