6 little differences you never noticed in the Perry Mason pilot episode

"The Moth-Eaten Mink" was filmed months before the other episodes — and it shows.

The first episode of Perry Mason was not the first episode of Perry Mason. The masterful mystery series premiered on September 21, 1957, with "The Case of the Restless Redhead." Three months later, in the midst of its first season, the show aired "The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink." This unassuming episode holds quite an important place in the history of Perry Mason. The cast and crew made "Moth-Eaten Mink" half a year before the other episodes. This was actually the pilot episode of Perry Mason.

The cast and crew set about production of "Moth-Eaten Mink" in October 1956, nearly a full year prior to the show's debut. (To put this in perspective, "Restless Redhead" filmed in late March 1957.) 

The gap in time is evident on the screen. There are many subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences. Overall, the show carries more of a film-noir feel, right down to Perry's fleeting fondness for wearing a stereotypical detective's hat. 

Let's take a look at some other interesting differences from the other episodes you might have missed!

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1. Perry doesn't have car.

Perry Mason showcases a fleet of beautiful vehicles. Both GM and Ford were sponsors. In "The Case of the Restless Redhead," the series premiere as you remember, Perry pulls up in a gorgeous 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner. He drives a convertible white Buick the next episode. So imagine how weird it must have been when the pilot aired in the middle of the season and suddenly Perry is taking cabs everywhere. That's right, he doesn't drive in "Moth-Eaten Mink." He takes a taxi everywhere! 

2. Perry and Della hang out in a different restaurant.

Perry and Della love to enjoy a business meal in a restaurant. Clay's later become a favorite haunt for the legal eagles. In the pilot, however, they hang in a different joint, a more upscale place named Morey's. The waiters here wear white coats (with "Morey's Restaurant" embroidered over the breast). It does seem pretty fancy for day-to-day noshing, so perhaps they picked a cheap place moving forward?

3. Perry has a shorter hair.

In the pilot, Perry has a closely trimmed head of hair. You can see here how much shaggier he got in the subsequent episodes. Hey, pal, this is the Fifties! What are you, a hippie?

4. Paul is not quite a blond.

Speaking of hair, check out Paul's darker locks. He was practically a silver fox in later episodes.

5. There is a different lamp next to the sofa in Perry's office.

Perry's office remains one of the most iconic — and enviable — workplaces in TV history. With its abstract horse paintings, works of sculpture and leather-bound legal tomes, it demonstrates the success and education of the occupant. Take a close look at the lamp atop the end table that sits between his sofa and door. It has multiple orbs in "Moth-Eaten Mink." In subsequent episodes, the lamp has a spherical body. 

6. It was the final acting role of Kay Faylen, first wife of Regin Philbin.

Perry's client (well, one of them) in "Moth-Eaten Mink" is Dixie Dayton, played by Kay Faylen, seen here. Oddly, this would be the final screen role for Faylen. Her father, Frank Faylen, played the dad on The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis. That is not her only connection to TV history — she also married Regis Philbin! Faylen and Philbin were married from 1955–68 and had a son and a daughter together.

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frances3agape 12 days ago
I can hardly wait to alert my BF about this!
She is such a huge PM fan and is watching this as we speak.
She watches MeTV a LOT but I cannot convince her to sign up for the emails.
AgingDisgracefully 15 days ago
Regis Philbin's real-life father-in-law was Dobie Gillis's TV father?
I'm having a David Crosby, "Oh wow, man. My head is going to explode!" moment.
(In fairness, this happens a lot.)
WOW - that is a Biggie trivia tidbit
MrsPhilHarris 15 days ago
Perry became a better dresser after a while.
So did Paul Drake!

But I digress 😉!
He did! Got snappier sports jackets.
What actually happens, is that the more popular a Show becomes, the budget increases. Thus more wardrobe variety! Sometimes the designer gets publicity in the credits, like Botany 500 for men's clothing.
Oh yes I remember seeing Botany 500 on old shows.
Filmnoirfan 16 days ago
Definitely one of the best episodes in the series
MikefromJersey 16 days ago
Excellent job, MeTV crew, now you are cooking with gas. You guys should sign your name.
When the author is noted as just "staff" it sounds as if you are serfs on a British manor
estate. It's also interesting to learn the styles and interests of whomever is penning
a given piece. For instance I would assume a Dobie Gillis fan had a part in writing
this Perry Mason bit.
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I too am a fan of Jack Benny’s radio and tv programmes. In fact last night I listened to a couple Hallowe’een shows. I am especially fond of the ones with Phil Harris.

Watched George Washington Slept Here about a month ago. I have seen it many times.
Thanks for the reassurance, Mike. I have learned not to use those cute old sayings with anyton under 30. Too many blank or leery stares. May need to raise the threshold to 45 now.
A few years ago one of our local channels at 3-5am had 40s-50s shows. If not for them, I would not have seen Benny's. I remember one nightmare where Perry Mason was his lawyer in court. Another good one was his trip to London and getting locked in the tower.
They also showed Burns and Allen and Eve Arden as a schoolteacher.
I have seen that Slept Here movies but it's probably been 40 years! Will try to catch it on TCM.
Great minds think - and laugh - alike !
For 25 years I have downloaded FREE old radio shows from www.otrcat.com (4 or 5 free daily Mon-Fri, keeps for 3 days) and otrfan.com/otr/random.php (random freebie downloads).
I did Hallowe’en comedies last night. Fell asleep to Abbot & Costello, woke up a few hours later to Jack Benny and finally this morning woke up to Burns & Allen. I had on OTR Halloweenholidaze. It has comedies, lots of mysteries, Inner Sanctum, Quiet Please, big band, etc. Lot’s of fun. Reminds me of when I was a kid a radio station played otr shows for 4 hours ever night. Love otr.
Srowsey 16 days ago
Did they ever show the receptionist Girdie in any episode?
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I have them both taped. Awhile back I posted both movies here on MeTV. Arness plays in both. He is The Thing from Another World. In Them! He helps to try and destroy the giant ants. Amazing he ends up on Gunsmoke for 20 years.
1) When I visit my elderly neighbors across the street, 90 pct of the time he is watching the GRIT channel. Most of the year it was always either Gunsmoke or Arness' How the West Was Won series.
2) Almost mentioned to you several times, my younger brother who has lived in Houston 20 years is visiting us
I am in the next county over near Dallas. Plano In Collin County. I am not a real Texan per say. Spent most of my life in San Diego. My work brought me here in 2004. So I'm now a 💁‍♂️ Texasluva. Good to have your brother visit.....
Jim doesn't like the heat, but says he can live anywhere as long as his family is there (as most of would)
10 years before meeting Hubby, he worked for a year or so in Dallas/Ft Worth. He HAD to return home so we could have our destined meeting!
Tuckerpete 17 days ago
Regis Philbin not: 6. It was the final acting role of Kay Faylen, first wife of Regin Philbin.
Jeremy 17 days ago
I love this episode, I think, because of the ending where the crooked police officer threatens to kill Perry in cold blood in Perry's office when Perry got too close to the truth. "All they gotta do is half-believe me and...I'm home."
Mike Jeremy 16 days ago
Don't forget the real ending:
When Tragg shoots the Crooked Cop, and Mason says he'll phone for an ambulance:
Tragg: "Don't hurry."
I've read that this line was one reason that CBS didn't want this episode to be the MASON premiere.
Jeremy Mike 15 days ago
Oh, I remembered all right. I have all of the episodes on DVD.
demode93 17 days ago
Keep them Perry Mason quizzes coming
cperrynaples 17 days ago
This episode will be on Wednesday at 11:30 pm!
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It's addictive. Played a couple last night and had to turn off because of sleep. The best way to find them on Youtube
1. Just type in What's My Line- A drop down box will show by years. 1952-1965 or so. Click on year and there will be a list you can cursor down to the one you want.
2. Put star name in along with WML and it should pull up the ones they are on. Some are on 2-3 times through the years.
Last night I did (2) of Fred MacMurray 1953, 1959 and (1) of Edward G. Robinson, 1953. Also the Trap kids singing group. Just about any star you can name back then will be on one time or another. Start with your favorite year or actors. Most are full shows. The star will be 3/4ths the way in or so. I've seen some in the past that were so funny. It's been a year or until last night to watch them. Also you can make a play list out of ones you like. Happy surfing.
🤣 That is sooo true!
Thanks! I am going to do that. Sounds like fun.
THANKS for sharing, Tex!
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