The Perry Mason TV Show Book
The History of the Show

An Embarrassing Revival

As soon as "Perry Mason" left the air in 1966, CBS went to work trying to find another good "puzzle show." It took seven years and more than a million dollars in pilots and scripts. All of them were failures.

One disaster was a pilot called "Higher and Higher, Attorneys at Law." It had featured in its cast no less than Dustin Hoffman, Alan Alda, and Sally Kellerman. This pilot alone cost CBS more than a half-million dollars. It was so bad, CBS scrapped it almost without a second look.

Then, after the seven-year search and a ton of money thrown away, CBS finally came up with its new puzzle show: "The New Perry Mason Show."

This attempt to put arms on the Venus de Milo turned out to be an embarrassment for everyone involved. The show, which starred TV journeyman actor Monte Markham as Perry and Harry Guardino as Hamilton Burger, premiered in 1972 and didn't even last a season. It was a shame that just about all the principals involved in the original show--Gail Jackson and Cornwell Jackson (who had split up) and even Erle Stanley Gardner's widow, Jean (he died in 1970)--had a hand in this failure. Although the show arrived with big pre-show hype, it sank in the ratings almost immediately. The less said about this bomb, the better.

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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.