Tuesday, July 17, 2012

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.
In The Case of the Drowsy Mosquito ( written in 1943) Mason describes his philosophy thus: "I have never stuck up for any criminal. I have merely asked for the orderly administration of an impartial justice...Due legal process is my own safeguard against being convicted unjustly. To my mind, that's government. That's law and order."

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At 7:37 AM, July 17, 2012 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

Even before the TV series, Perry Mason novels were already being serialized in the wide-circulation "Saturday Evening Post." My grandmother would save her SEPs all year long for us to read during our visits -- preferably during our respective turns in the shaded back-porch hammock on warm afternoons.

Experts have pointed out that a significant aspect of Perry Mason mysteries is that his defense of unjustly-accused innocents was occurring during the anti-Communist witch-hunt era, where people were presumed guilty even by association (or flimsier pretexts) by authorities.

(BTW, much of Raymond Burr's life story has turned out false, yet he was able to convey it convincingly due to his utter charm and graciousness).


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