The Perry Mason TV Show Book
Barbara Hale as Della Street

"Think Like a Woman"

For the most part, Della appeared, as reflected in her speech and dress, to be the conservative type--sharp as a tack when she had to be, but soft around the edges as needed. But once in a while she'd display her flamboyant side. Check out those large, dangling earrings she wore in "The Case of the Haunted Husband." Or the striped cotton gloves she wore to search a suspect's room in "The Case of the Screaming Woman." Better yet, in "The Case of the Moth-eaten Mink" Della wore the "evidence," an expensive mink coat belonging to the defendant. (When the time came, she didn't want to give it back.) She looked right at home dripping in riches and had a nose for the best. On several occasions, she helped Perry uncover crucial clues by identifying expensive perfumes. When Perry interviewed a "poor" client in "The Case of the Shattered Dream," it was Della who picked up the scent of "Eternity" from the woman and knew it sold for $150 an ounce. Another time, she recognized "Samadi," another expensive perfume, on a glove found at the scene of a crime.

The perfect supporting actress. Barbara Hale received the Emmy in 1959 for Best Female Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series. Here she laughs it up with Dennis Weaver, winner of the Best Supporting Actor award that year. Courtesy of Capital Newspapers

There were a few notable episodes where Della was allowed to shine. In "The Case of the Weary Watchdog, " her best friend was tangled up in a bizarre blackmail scheme involving a valuable piece of oriental art and some "compromising" photos. The friend needed $25,000 and asked Della to help. Della in turn asked Perry in a restaurant one night: "How far would you go for a friend?" Perry immediately answered: "How long is forever?" When Della then said she needed $25,000, no questions asked, the lawyer whipped out his checkbook and wrote a check so nonchalantly it seemed as if he were paying his gas bill. The scene is a classic--a reinforcement of the bond between Della and Perry.

In "The Case of the Pint-sized Client" and "The Case of the Borrowed Baby," we saw another side of Della. In "Pint-sized Client," she took home an orphan boy while Perry and Paul cracked the murder case. In "Borrowed Baby," her maternal instincts took over when she and Perry found a four-week-old baby boy in a basket, abandoned by his mother.

In another episode, "The Case of the Lazy Lover," Della had to play a man's wife to fool the authorities. One scene showed her smooching the man so much, it left many Dellaphiles squirming in their seats.

Perry Mason valued a woman's intuition as an investigative tool. In "The Case of the Madcap Modiste," he looked to Della for answers to the case.

Perry: "Della, think like a woman, will you."
Della: "I'll try."
Perry: "What would make a scheming, successful businesswoman suddenly throw two hundred thousand dollars out of the window?"
Della: "Another woman."

Bingo. The clue helped Perry solve the case.

Della took risks that your ordinary secretary wouldn't dream of. During "The Case of the Screaming Woman," she searched a hotel room for clues, lifting some documents Perry found vital to his upcoming trial. When Burger put her on the stand to try to accuse her and Perry of tampering with evidence, she played cat and mouse with the DA until Perry could come up with a scheme to clear them.

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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.