Actor Wesley Lau took over the job as the lead police official on the Mason series after Ray Collins was forced to leave the show. Lau played Lieutenant Anderson, the officer otherwise known as Andy to Perry and Paul, for the 1964-65 season.*
Where Tragg was always throwing his weight and his badge around, Andy played a serious but easygoing introvert. He was interested in catching the crooks more than he was in catching Perry and Paul in the act of one of their many questionable tricks of the trade. Thus, Andy got a lot more smiles and cheerful greetings than Tragg ever did.
Lau is as unassuming in real life as he was playing Lt. Anderson. A country boy from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, he is the son of a fireman, and was captain of his high school football team.
He majored in playwriting at the University of Wisconsin and went on to Yale Drama School, where he got his M.A. in 1950. He took time off from college at one point to serve in World War II as part of the air corps. Although his goal in life was to be a writer, he ended up acting simply because he found more jobs as an actor than as a playwright when he arrived in New York City seeking work.
He first acted in a high school play, an experience that changed his life. He later said to TV Guide that if it had not been for that high school play, "I would not have demeaned myself to be an actor."
He was not highly successful finding work in television or on Broadway, although he did play a small part in Susan Hayward's great film, I Want to Live.
His luck got better after moving to Hollywood. He got a part on NBC Matinee Theater, and this led to more steady work. Ironically, Lau was cast as the lead in an Erle Stanley Gardner series called "The D.A." Unfortunately, the show never made it to TV.
Lau first appeared on the Mason show as a defendant. When Collins became ill, Lau was offered the part of the cop. He accepted, explaining to TV Guide, "It was a matter of expediency. I'd been playing everything from cowboys to killers on TV. Then I saw that more and more hour and hour-and-a-half shows were coming along. That would mean fewer jobs for actors. When they asked me to do this, I decided it was time to say yes."
During his tenure on the show, Lau lived in the house formerly owned by Barbara LaMarr, with his wife Louise, a Los Angeles ad copywriter, and his son.
When he left the show, Lau hooked right on with another series. He played Master Sergeant Jiggs in "Time Tunnel" with James Darren and Whit Bissell, another actor who played in several Mason episodes.
* Webmaster's Note: Pat Kunz notes that Lau first appeared as Lt. Anderson October 7, 1961, and continued the role into 1965.
|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.|