The Case of the Reclusive Retiree

I confess, I am a fan of Perry Mason. Not a fanatical fan but a fan. I have watched Perry ever since I came to Portland in the early 70’s. It became a comforting habit on sick days to sit in front of the TV at noon sipping on Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and wait for the signature theme music.

I love the fashions, the stylized, over-the-top acting and the corny dialogue. Perry was cool, Paul Drake suave and Della classy. The plots are filled with stock characters from doe-eyed ingenues to oily drifters, hot babes and sweet, larcenous old ladies. The cases end with Perry zeroing in on the truth and the guilty-one sobbing a confession in court.

Everybody smoked, in a time when it was cool. But the only women that smoked on the show were the kind that the music changed to a sultry jazz when they entered the room. Paul Drake smoked but he was …well we all know what’s on Paul’s mind.

Now that I have become a woman of leisure, and can watch Perry every day if I want to, I arrange my work and chores around him. I make lunch and have a sit down. Both my sister and I watch Perry. Her in her room, me in the living room.

Our biggest challenge is identifying all the character actors we can spot and figure out where we have seen them before.

For instance, there was an episode recently, with a young actor I recognized from an old Star Trek episode. So I looked up the cast and found out his name was Michael Walker but he was the brother of Robert Walker Jr. the actor from Star Trek. Both Robert and Michael are sons of Robert Walker and Jennifer Jones. Later, they divorced and Jennifer Jones married David Selznick.
The name of the Star Trek episode with Robert Jr was Charlie X. He also appeared in Easy Rider.

These are the things you learn while watching Perry Mason.


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