Sunday, July 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Erle

Born today in Malden, Massachusetts, in 1889, the creator of America's most famous fictional lawyer. Erle Stanley Gardner qualified as a lawyer himself without attending law school, only working in a law firm. After passing the bar, he made his living defending poor immigrants in California, and writing an enormous number of stories. He finally settled into the Perry Mason novels, and wrote more than 80.

Here I must add that as well as the tv series I remember so well, there were a lot of movies made in the 30s - with a Perry Mason Raymond Burr wouldn't have recognized (especially the boozy Nick-Charles-wannabe from The Case of the Lucky Legs)!

There were also some good movies made of the DA series (yes, the other side of the battle) one of which featured Jim Hutton in the starring role.

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At 1:18 PM, July 17, 2011 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

Finer minds than mine have posited that Erle Stanley Gardner used Perry Mason as an antidote to the presumed-guilty hysteria of the McCarthy era. Think of how subversive Mason was, with (all but one of his) clients turning out to be innocent. Not to mention the regularly-inflicted humiliation of law-and-order figure D.A. Hamilton Burger (oh, as a kid I felt so clever when I figured that one out!).

At the risk of showing my age, I got interested in Perry Mason back when the TV series began, which led me to read all the books our local public library branch had in the oeuvre, as well as the serialized new PM novels (3-4 per year, IIRC) in the "Saturday Evening Post." Ah, fond memories of warm afternoons in a shaded hammock while visiting my maternal grandmother in the country each summer, as she'd always stockpile the previous year's worth of several magazines for us to read in the afternoons.

At 1:23 PM, July 17, 2011 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

P.S. Have you ever read about the web of lies that Raymond Burr spun re his life? I think someone wrote a book on the topic, though I've never read it and don't recall much else re it, but if you're interested perhaps you could find it. A friend of mine from college knew him from when her family vacationed near him in the Caribbean, and said he was really kind and likable, though.


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