The Perry Mason TV Show Book
The History of the Show

Very Few Words from the Sponsors
Does this man look like Perry Mason to you? At one time CBS was close to signing actor Mike Connors to replace Raymond Burr as the famous lawyer. Courtesy of Capital Newspapers

Along the way, the show picked up more and more sponsors, such as Libby-Owens-Ford and Bristol-Myers. Soon the program became so popular that advertisers were drooling to get a piece of the action. (One story goes that a group of nuns--favorites of Raymond Burr--were asked to pray that the show get sponsored in its second year. Eventually so many advertisers signed up, a mutual friend called the convent and asked the nuns: "Don't you think you've overdone it?") The multiple sponsorship of the show was great good fortune for the producers and cast. Besides the financial rewards, there wasn't one single major sponsor butting in with almost always useless "suggestions," something that single-sponsor shows had to live with. This is not to say the sponsors had no influence. For instance, in the 1958-59 season, the show had a cigarette sponsor, which caused Raymond Burr to observe: "All of a sudden, the scripts are loaded with smoking."

From the start, putting Perry Mason on television was an expensive undertaking. Each episode cost at least $100,000 to produce, big money in 1957. Filmed on the old Twentieth Century-Fox Western Avenue lot, Stage 8, each episode took anywhere from nine to eleven days to produce six days of actual shooting, the two days for the weekend, one day of preparation, then other delays, such as holidays and so on. In the first three seasons nearly 100 hour-long Mason episodes were produced (more than a dozen were in the can before the show premiered), a grueling and costly proposition. But the money was well spent. Productionwise, "Perry Mason" was always top shelf During its nine year run, CBS spent as much as $40 million presenting the show--megabucks in the fifties and sixties--and it looked it.

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The Perry Mason TV Show Book Copyright 1987 by Brian Kelleher and Diana Merrill. All rights reserved. Presented here by permission of the copyright holder. Commercial use prohibited. Web page Copyright 1998 D. M. Brockman. Last edited 04 Nov 2004.