#96: The Case of the
Original Airdate: 09/17/60
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book (Revised)
Robert Redford makes an early TV acting appearance as Richard Hart in this, the premiere episode of the Mason series' fourth season.
Hartley Basset returns from the dead after two years. A tyrannical company president, he isn't liked any better the second time around, a fact underscored when someone puts two bullets in him. Poor Peter Dawson was fired by Hartley on his return, making him Tragg's prime suspect. Perry has a witness lined up to testify that Dawson didn't do it. Richard Hart's new wife, Teddi, says she can identify the murderer.
It's an open and shut case until Teddi disappears, and Burger accuses Perry of being behind her disappearance.
Starring Raymond Burr
in The Case of the TREACHEROUS TOUPEE
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 Richard Kinon
Written by Maurice Zimm
Herbert Hirschman || Producer
Gail Patrick Jackson || Executive Producer
Seeleg Lester || Associate Producer, Story Consultant
Produced by The CBS Television Network in association with Paisano Productions
Arthur Marks || 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
Peggy Converse as Sybil Basset
Philip Ober as Peter Dawson
Bert Freed as Ken Woodman
Cindy Robbins as Teddi Hart
Thomas B. Henry as Hartley Basset
Robert Redford as Dick Hart
Nelson Olmsted as Arthur Colemar
Dee Arlen as Lorna Grant
Jonathon Hole as Stanley Roderick
Frank Wilcox as Judge
Lindsay Workman as Wilber Fenwick
Juney Ellis as Lucy
Rita Duncan as Flo
Hal Smith as Supper Club Owner
Len Hendry as Plainclothesman
George E. Stone as Court Clerk
Lee Miller as Sgt. Brice
Patricia Marlowe as Receptionist
Art Seid, A.C.E. || Assistant to the Producer
Production Supervisor … Dewey Starkey
Director of Photography … Frank Redman, A.S.C.
Art Direction … Lewis Creber
Assistant Director … Robert G. Stone
Film Editor … Richard H. Cahoon, A.C.E.
Casting … Harvey Clermont
Makeup … Irving Pringle
Hair Stylist … Annabell, S.C.H.
Wardrobe Supervision … William Zacha, Evelyn Carruth
Set Decoration … Charles Q. Vassar
Sound Effects Editor … Gene Eliot, M.P.S.E.
Music Editor … Gene Feldman
Properties … Ray Thompson
Production Sound Mixer … Herman Lewis
Script Supervision … M.E.M. Gibsone
Sound … Glen Glenn Sound Co.
Airport Sequences Presented with Cooperation of Pan American Airlines
A CBS Television Network Production
Anomaly: Jonathn Hole, the actor, is listed as Jonathn Hole. Posted by daveb, 12/20/2007.
When the judge looks at his watch to dismiss the court, if you look closely, you’ll see that he isn't wearing a watch! Submitted by Will Holman, 5/7/07.
+ Update: Upon watching the DVD version of this episode, it looks like there may be a watch there after all. More at the link above. Added by daveb, 5/15/2010.
++ Frank Wilcox JUDGED 8 Masons between 1957-60 & appeared in 20 Untouchables & 1 Ironside, Mod Squad & Wild, Wild West [IMDb]. Mike Bedard 2.17.15.
Talman’s last gasp. Apparently, the producers of Perry had
two three episodes already filmed and in the can when William Talman was arrested and fired in March 1960, because even though William Talman had been fired 6 months earlier, he appears in this episode and the next episode [as well the previous episode]. A clue to the fact that this was a leftover from last season was the opening, which is identical to the previous season. Two episodes later, starting with #98 “TCOT Ill-Fated Faker,” a new opening appears for the rest of the season. See The Credits. Also read trivia items for episodes #87-89 and #95 and #97. Submitted by PaulDrake 33. Edited and expanded by gracep 10/14/2010.
+ Another clue suggesting this was a leftover from the previous season is in the turnover in the crew. For example, the producer here is Herbert Hirschmann, whereas starting in #98 Seeleg Lester has been promoted from associate producer to producer. Jackson Gillis takes over Letser’s other job as story consultant. Submitted by gracep, 10/15/2010.
++ Make that four episodes held over, numbers 94-97 (production numbers 99, 101-103; production episode 104 was the first to be produced after the firing). All four feature William Talman's name in the credits. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 5/07/14.
+++ Three of these four episodes have as a centerpiece of their plots a man returning from a long and unexpected absence; is it just coincidence, or by placing them together like this was someone trying to suggest something ?? Suggesting something myself, Notcom 120917.
William Talman & William Hopper both served Very Honorably in WWII: "William Talman entered the Army as a private and saw 30 months of service in the Pacific...he won a commission to the rank of Major"; "Prior to being a Navy Frogman doing underwater demolition in the Pacific...[William Hopper's] hair was dark blonde, the stress of the danger turned it permanently White" ["Movie Stars of WWII," wonderfulworldofimages.com]. Mike Bedard 2.17.15.
Hal Smith has a small part here as the supper club owner. Hal Smith is best known at the town drunk Otis in The Andy Griffith Show. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 16 Jun 2009.
The book that the Domestic Tool & Die receptionist is reading at about 2:20 into the episode is Patty’s Romance, by Carolyn Wells. The book had a blue cover. (See here). This particular book was published in 1915 and seems to have been part of a series of books about “Patty Fairfield,” something of a Pollyanna figure, published in the early 20th century. Submitted by billp, 1 November 2009.
Location: Paul drives Dick Hart to the Pan American and JAL terminal at the intersection of Airport (100) and Avion (6000) in Los Angeles (LAX). The actual address is 5920 Avion (Municipally Owned and Operated). I don't think these particular buildings are there anymore. Anybody have any contemporary pictures? Submitted by billp. 1 November 2009. Some show pictures here.
+ The terminal building at 5920 Avion Drive seems to have been replaced with another. You can see it with street view at Google maps. It’s labeled United Cargo and doesn’t look like the building in the episode. Submitted by daveb, 11/3/2009.
++ By way of addendum, it occurs to me that Hartley Basset is seen walking in this same Pan Am terminal. (Pan Am does get a credit at the end of the episode). When Basset exits the terminal, you can see the cars coming down Airport Road towards the terminal and the parking lot across Avion. This is the direction from which Paul Drake approached the terminal. Compare the open doors Dick Hart goes in and Basset exits. They sure look to be the same. They likely filmed all these scenes at the terminal the same day. I'm thinking the scene with Tragg and Della at the Pan Am ticket counter was also filmed there. By the way, I think the jet plane is a Boeing 707-120. Pan Am flew the first production 707 on 20 December 1957. Submitted by billp, 2 November 2009.
+++ Actually the plane is the newer stretched version of the 707. It is the Boeing 707-321 (the 321 indicates a different model of the 707 .. usually the higher the number the bigger the model size). It allowed a higher takeoff weight and increased the passenger count from 110 to 147. That is not much by the aircraft that we fly today. The new Delta Boeing 737-900 will seat 180 people in a three class configuration. And by comparison, the 737 is one of the smaller aircraft that is commercially flown. Submitted by Bill767, 11/03/15
The gun that killed Hartley Basset is a Browning (M)1903 or Browning #2 pistol. The concealed hammer and the side/bottom cut-outs/scallops in the slide at the muzzle end etc. are consistent with this hypothesis. The weapon was made in the US by Colt in a .32 version. Elsewhere (Europe) it was made by FN (Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre Herstal Belgique) in a 9mm (.38) version. It was not uncommon for this pistol to be modified to fire the .38 ACP. So the description of the gun in the episode as a .38 is credible. It was also made in Sweden by Husqvarna Vapenfabriks. It was in production from 1903 till about 1942. It’s one of the forerunners of most semi-auto pistols in the world. By today’s standards it’s underpowered, but it is a reliable and accurate weapon. It is also characterized as a “comfortable” weapon. I think you get a sense of that just looking at it in this episode. To see if you agree or disagree with my identifications, compare here. Submitted by billp, 2 November 2009.
Sightings: Distinguished Gentleman #1 lurks in the shadows of the courtroom gallery. Quiet Old Man #155 also appears, sitting behind Sybil Basset. “Miss Carmody” looks rather interestedly on from her back-row seat. They all laugh rather merrily in one long shot at a remark made by Stanley Roderick (no, I won’t spoil it). Read more about these and other recurring spectators. Submitted by gracep, 10/13/2010.
+We also see Distinguished Lady #4 in the back row. Distinguished Lady #2 make a very brief appearance behind Burger as court recesses for the last time and as they all exit the court. You really need a DVD to see this one. Submitted by Bill767, 11/03/15.
+ It goes by quickly, but I believe we also get a rare out-of-the-courtroom glimpse of the Cute Young Lady in the first moment of this episode, as she follows Hartley Basset down the stairway off the plane, and into the airport corridor. And judging by her outfit, the same woman also seems to be in line to buy a ticket in the very last scene. If it is indeed CYL, she's rather tall. JohnK, 2 October 2015.
Double Cute: In the early airport scene, on the stairs down from the plane, and in the corridor, there are two tall, dark-haired young women who look much alike. In some other episode, which escapes me at the moment, I believe the same two sit side-by-side in the courtroom. No way of knowing at this point, but I figure they are sisters. JohnK, 10 December 2017
Uncredited Actors: Robert Wegner is seen in the four airport shots and later in the last row of court behind Perry. He is seen four times with the Cute Lady that JohnK has mentioned. Submitted by Bill767, 11/13/15.
At least two series appearances by Robert Redford were held over to the following season: this episode, filmed in the third season before William Talman was fired, was held over to the fourth season; and his Twilight Zone episode, "Nothing in the Dark" was filmed during the second season (1960-61) but was held over to the middle of the third season (1/5/62). Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 8/25/12.
Syndicated cuts: Mrs. Basset telling Dawson that Hartley was murdered and she wishes she would have done it, Dawson looks for his gun but can't locate it and removes his toupee; Mason's conversation with Woodman; Drake in San Francisco and Fresno; Della asking Perry what he means and he responds that the preliminary hearing starts tomorrow. Additional Hallmark cuts: Four sections of Dawson's first conversation with Perry: Mason stating that Dawson did not start a concern of his own and all his work benefited the Bassets, Dawson stating that Mrs. Basset had a son from her first marriage who was never a comfort to her, Dawson never thinking Basset would return and he would have made fair payment for his shares and his intentions were legal and honorable, Dawson wants protection now so Mrs. Basset would also be protected; Tragg telling Mason "Good morning" [In the uncut/syndicated versions Tragg says "you see, in the ordinary tou...good morning, Perry...you see, in the ordinary toupee there may be 40-60,000 hairs..." The Hallmark version cuts from the first 'ordinary' to the second 'toupee.' This edit saved Hallmark four seconds of commercial time]; Stanley Roderick's entire testimony. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 8/25/12.
CARS: (1) 1959 Ford Custom 300 Fordor Sedan, "Skyline Taxi Cab Co" on door.
- (2) very brief cameo shot of a 1952 DeSoto De Luxe 8 Passenger Sedan Taxi pulling up to Burgundy Club San Francisco, appears to be "BAY VIEW" Taxi on rear "suicide" door. The same mileage rates are painted on the front door as on the LA taxi that took Della home in Ep#79.
- (3) Paul Drake's black 1958 Ford Thunderbird Convertible, Lic PXY 260, top down.
During the excellent panning-shot of Paul's '58 T-Bird (starts @ 39:40) say "GoodBye" to the car. The next time Paul's driving a black T-Bird (Ep#100) it will be the 1960 model. Added by Gary Woloski, 8/26/12.
The Case of the Missing Sponsor: It's hard to determine how the closing credits of this episode should appear. This episode was produced in the third season; the third season had two lengths of episodes: one about 52:40 (shown with a sponsor in the closing credits) and shorter episodes about 51:20 (without a sponsor). Since this episode ran about 52:47 there should be a sponsor shown. However, this episode was broadcast in the fourth season where there didn't seem to be sponsors in the closing credits (unless CBS decided to stop including them on the 4th season sets). Also the true 4th season episodes average around 52:00. This all seems to be a moot point anyway because this episode on the 4th season set is not the "real" episode but apparently a "copy" of the episode from the 50th anniversary set where there are no sponsors shown (compare "Wary Wildcatter" from the 3rd season set and the anniversary set), the CBS film presentation notice at the end is silent and the CBS eye logo is cut short by the CBS television distribution logo. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 5/07/14.
Franchise?: Was the Burgundy Club in San Francisco associated with the one seen in L.A. in episode 24 TCOT Deadly Double? Submitted by H. Mason 10/31/14
+ Not only the same Burgundy Club but the same taxi cab pulls up in front. We're supposed to believe it's Paul in the taxi but by the miracle of DVD freeze frame and slo-mo we can see that it's really Joyce Martel from episode 24! Submitted by Kilo 8/7/2017.
Writer Maurice Zimm wrote the acreenplay for a Raymond Burr film, "Affair in Havana" (1957), in which RB had to use a wheelchair following an accident...MikeM. 8/12/2016
Barbara Hale Alert...Turner Classic Movies showed one of Barbara's earliest screen appearances this morning, the musical comedy "Higher and Higher" from 1943. Barbara appears in scenes with Frank Sinatra. I think TCM shows its films online for free viewing for a week after the on air broadcast...MikeM. 11/18/2016
This episode is included in the Perry Mason 50th Anniversary DVD set. In Barbara Hale's introduction, she notes that it's based on Erle Stanley Gardner's novel The Case of the Counterfeit Eye, but a glass eye was considered to be too gruesome for TV. Hence the change to a toupee. Submitted by raja99
+ The episode also eliminates the novel's additional embezzlement subplot and reduces the number of murder victims from two to one. In other respects, the teleplay closely tracks the source novel's plotline. Submitted by BobH, 18 October 2016.
++ Also included in the 50th Anniversary DVD are screen tests of both Raymond Burr and William Hopper playing Perry Mason in a scene taken from the novel The Case of the Counterfeit Eye. We actually see the box of glass eyes. Of course this scene didn't make it into the TV episode "The Case of the Treacherous Toupee." Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 5/07/14.
+++ ESG: The Case of the Counterfeit Eye was the 6th Perry Mason novel. Published in 1935, it was the first book to feature Hamilton Burger. Submitted by catyron, 12/2/2017.
+ I'm curious, now, how the counterfeit eye manifests itself in the novel. Surely it wasn't in the dead man's hand like the toupee hair in this episode. Can anyone shed light on the subject? Kilo 11/28/2019.
++In the novel, Mason's client, who wears a glass eye, comes to Mason because one of his collection of glass eyes has been stolen and replaced with a counterfeit. He fears that someone will commit a crime and leave his stolen glass eye at the scene. Sure enough, Hartley Basset is indeed found dead with a glass eye clutched in his hand. Amazingly, the murderer, like Mason's client, also wears one glass eye. Submitted by BobH, 29 November 2019.
Jonathon Hole indicates to Perry in this show that his hair is a toupee. I wonder if it is really a toupee? I have seen this actor in quite a few shows, and he always is shown with hair. Submitted by PaulDrake 33.
+ Speaking of toupee, isn't it strange that if someone grabs a toupee with one hand as what it appears the deceased man actually did, wouldn't the whole toupee have been found in his hand when the body was found ? The defendant is actually seen doing this in a later scene while standing in front of a mirror. Submitted by HamBurger 8/16/2014
Note the prominence of the LAX airport and Pan Am in this episode, especially the jet plane. I believe this was something of a plug for both. Jet service, IIRC, was inaugurated from LAX about this time (1959). Submitted by billp. 1 November 2009.
I thought Robert Redford’s performance here was not quite up to what he was capable of in later years. It seems a bit childish, though perhaps that is intentional. On the other hand, Ray Collins delivers a more animated performance than usual. Submitted by gracep 10/13/2010.
+ There were a few criticisms of Redford's early TV work: according to Marc Scott Zicree, author of The Twilight Zone Companion about Redford's appearance, he "performs with all the emotion of a male mannequin-which he strongly resembles. Ironically, one of the lines he delivers, in a leaden monotone, is, 'Am I really so bad?'" Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 8/25/12.
Paul Drake's T-Bird: Does it seem strange that when Paul Drake is dropping off the Robert Redford character at the airport that his tires are squealing making the turn ? It did not seem like he was going that fast. Perhaps his tires need air.... ;-) Submitted by HamBurger 8/16/2014
One of my fave Perry lines ever in the final scene: "Oh, hello Lieutenant... we weren't speaking of the devil, but please come in." MFrench 11/19/16
The Case of the Kitchen Sink: If I've got it right, this was the inaugural issue of the fourth season. Maybe that's why the writers were trying so hard, and this story line has every plot device: Missing Husband, Proxy Battle, Impetuous Son, Floozy Bigamous Wife, Wife's Suicide In Philippines, Thieving Accountant, Look-Alike Girl in Out-of the Way Hotel, and Robert Redford. Plus in Ray Collins's first moments, he seems to be running on hi-test. Only missing is the Hick Private Detective. JohnK, 20 December 2017
I find it odd that Perry would enlist Dick Hart in his subterfuge. Wasn’t Dick just as likely a suspect? (Oh, and Dick Hart would be a good name for an adult film star). DOD 09/12/19
Frank Wilcox, George E. Stone and Raymond Burr would appear in the same roles a year later on the Jack Benny Show, when Jack dreams that he is put on trial for murdering a rooster, and Perry Mason is defending him. Mason is noticeably inept in that episode. Submitted by vgy7ujm, 11/16/2014.
If the murderer was trying to get away from the court as fast as possible to the airport, why did he stop to chat with another witness and offer to buy him a cup of coffee? Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 8/25/12.
+ Agreed, Wiseguy! I take it as a rather clumsy attempt by the writer to keep us suspecting Woodman, who had plenty of reason to kill Bassett and who *acted* as if he were hastening to get away. Thereby, I guess, heightening the surprise of the ending! But it was very odd. Submitted by JazzBaby, 8/30/2019.
I thoroughly enjoyed this show, both the first time I saw it and in repeats, but I had to shelve my incredulity at the role of Hartley Basset. A man disappears for two years and just expects to take up where he left off? Even for that time period, I couldn't completely accept it. With business and wife? Really? I can be gone for two hours and my wife wants to know where I am .. and she's the one who sent me out! It would have been a surprise if Basset wasn't the murder victim! Submitted by MikeReese, 10/18/2013.