|Very Few Words from
|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
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 nunsfavorites of Raymond Burrwere 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 showmegabucks in the fifties and sixtiesand it looked it.