Here's why Raymond Burr loved the legal stuff in Perry Mason

Most would find the legal stuff boring, but Raymond Burr found it to be exciting.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

There is no doubting Raymond Burr's dedication to his role as the leading man in the hit-series Perry Mason (1961).

His role as the criminal defense attorney highlighted the handling of some of the most difficult cases in support of the innocent. Throughout nine seasons of the series, Perry Mason only lost three cases (and then got two of those overturned), proving he was the only man for the job.

It's almost as if his career in court had become a second career, or part-time job for Burr. He studied the law in his own time, he raised awareness about issues within the justice system and he had a hard time leaving his character at work.

So, why did Burr love all that long, boring legal stuff so much in Perry Mason? According to a 1960 interview with The San Francisco Examiner, Burr believed law served more of a purpose to society than acting ever could. 

Good thing he was great at doing both jobs.

"I think the most important profession is the legal profession, because the world today has two choices," Burr said. "It can either destroy itself or learn to survive under law. Yet, the public knows less about the legal profession than almost any other."

Burr and Perry Mason shared a few things in common: They were both smart, confident, charismatic, had a love of law and most importantly, they were determined to shed a new light on the justice system.

According to the interview, Burr said he saw it as his job to educate viewers and to provide them with a space to learn and ask questions.

Burr was familiar with lawyers from all over the country, and would frequently be asked to be a guest speaker. He used this time to educate people on all his favorite topics related to law. What may sound boring to some was Burr's favorite subject.

"To my mind, the most important judges are in traffic courts," Burr said. "They are the only connection with our court system 85 percent of our citizens ever have. What better place to assert justice?"

"Our aim is to make the public pay attention to traffic citations, and go into court when they think they're right, not just to pay fines," Burr continued. 

He was a man based in law, but he was also hoping to fight it too. All of this, of course, had been inspired by Perry Mason. Burr considered Perry Mason to be a valuable tool for the public and wanted viewers to use it for educational purposes.

Burr also did a few grassroots campaigns during his time on the series. He worked closely with the American Bar Association on programs designed to better the court and jury systems by gaining public interest.

"This show is popular, not only in this country, but in Sweden, Italy, Austria and Japan because it reaffirms through the medium of entertainment all the things we hope are true, and the things we want to believe about our system of justice," Burr said. 

"Other countries may not understand our legal procedures, but they are interested in the U.S.," Burr continued. "They want it to remain free. They want our system, our justice to work, perhaps just as much as we do."

No matter if it's onscreen or in real life, we could always count on leaving the legal stuff to Perry Mason.

Watch Perry Mason on MeTV!

Weekdays at 9 AM
Weeknights at 11:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
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Wapkep1982 4 months ago
PM was popular in Japan because the shows dealing with Oriental catalysts usually had a positive spin or championed the Orientals--especially after WWII.
Paris55 4 months ago
Love Perry Mason and most courtroom shows that followed. Watched it so much, along with Law & Order, I could actually argue a case in court. I watched Perry Mason as a teenager in re-runs. Also binge watch all episodes once a year. I've seen every episode but still do not see where he lost a case. I saw the cases, esp one where he was able overturn the decision but I do see that as losing.
obectionoverruled 4 months ago
I’ve seen every episode I think. This cheaply produced show introduced hundreds of future TV and movie starlets eager to wag their chests and derrières on the set and budding young Rock Hudsons and Cary Grants. Not so many great actors though, as most of the scripts and storylines were over dramatic and nonsensical - how could a lawyer encounter a murder close up every week in his career, even when his client was an architect in a business dispute or a housewife trying to oust her cheating spouse? And even though we all know now that Perry was as gay as a circus performer, the nagging question looms: did he ever, just once, sleep with Della? The other production mystery: where did Paul Drake buy all those hysterical sports coats?
Natureknight 4 months ago
If Perry Mason was on the air for 9 years, why does MeTV air just some of them?
Where did you get that strange idea?
I saw all of them on MeTV, but only started watching the episodes 2-to-3 years ago. I enjoyed the accurate legal details, learned more of the lingo (legal language), and how both sides argued their points with the judge, and jury. This now 66-year-old series (Sep. 1957) holds up remarkably well, in using legal terms and law (in Calif.) that may have changed or have now supplanted by new laws after the series ended in May 1966.
George58 Natureknight 4 months ago
They have aired ALL of them. More than once. I know because I've watched them. They even aired the only episode done in color.
METVdap54 MadMadMadWorld 4 months ago
Unfortunately, METV has edited these episodes cutting out some of my favorite parts of the episode. Example: The Case of the Baited Hook
jmworacle 4 months ago
Perry Mason was a great sries but watching the shows now not only was he able to raise reasonable doubt he also would get the real party to congess. That's why Carl Betz leagal series "Jud for the Defense" only lasted two seasons.
Sizemore1 4 months ago
Not to mention, justice and the rule of law are the fundamentals of Democracy--and are of critical importance, particularly at this time.
Sizemore1 4 months ago
"Perry Mason" actually began in 1957, not 1961 as noted above.
Steve2021 4 months ago
Loved the cars Perry drove in the series ......
George58 4 months ago
Forgot to mention. The Case f The Golden Girls will be on tonight at 7:00pm on the Justice Central channel for those who want to check out what I just mentioned about the music used.
George58 4 months ago
I Love the Perry Mason show. I recently watched an episode called, "The Case Of The Golden Girls". If you listen closely when the scene switches to inside the "Golden Bear" club the music that is playing is EXACTLY the same music used on a Gilligan's Island episode where the band, "The Mosquitos" landed on the island. The same music when they were practicing and the music that the "Honey Bees" (Mary Ann, Ginger & Mrs Howell) were singing. "You need me... You need Us...". Its the same song.
Wiseguy70005 George58 4 months ago
Stock music in the CBS Music Library could be used by any CBS-produced series. Music specifically composed for a CBS series automatically becomes stock music. Perry Mason often used music composed for The Twilight Zone. One piece of stock music used by both series Is the music from The Fan Dancer's Horse when Perry enters the record playing booth Is the same music heard in the Twilight Zone pilot Where Is Everybody? when Earl Holliman enters the cafe at the beginning and hears the juke box playing.
KeithGator 4 months ago
Perry Mason was based on Los Angeles Attorney Earl Rogers. Earl was the attorney to go when you were in big trouble. He brought many changes to Courtrooms. His real life record was comparable to Mason's. He brought in Doctors to testify as expert witnesses and he knew as much as they did. Unfortunately he died an alcoholic. His Daughter Adela Rogers St John had to sign the papers to have him committed. Her biography of her Father "Final Verdict" was a very interesting book.
MikefromJersey KeithGator 4 months ago
Great stuff Keith, thanks for sharing.
I enjoy when the posters here share all the interesting tidbits they know.
Like Dan "Hos" Blocker" being a intellectual who once taught at a Texas college,
he also was a combat veteran of the Korean War.
Sorry big guy, somehow lost a "s" above. Hoss.
cinamac 4 months ago
I absolutely love Perry Mason and enjoy his warm relationships with Della Street and Paul Drake, but I thoroughly relish the repartee and verbal sparring between Perry’s “nemeses”, Lt. Tragg and Hamilton Burger!
obectionoverruled cinamac 4 months ago
Burger had to be LA’s worst lawyer in the day. 0-252 against Perry? And did Tragg ever suspect the right perp initially? He must have been trained in police investigative work by Barney Fife.
cinamac obectionoverruled 4 months ago
Oh, come on! If you were Lt. Tragg or the DA, Hamilton Burger, you would’ve thrown the book at Mason’s clients, too…they were all extremely difficult, if not hopeless, cases, until the sheer brilliance of Perry’s detective work allowed him to establish the Defendant’s innocence, usually by finding the real culprit!
Geepa 4 months ago
Love watching Perry Mason. Soooooo much better than anything that is on TV today. And the fact that it's in B&W makes it that much better, if you axe me.
Runeshaper 4 months ago
He really enjoyed his role and it shows! (-:
Andybandit 4 months ago
RB should have became a lawyer to fall back on if acting didn't work out.
cperrynaples 4 months ago
2 of the cases were actually minor! The one that counted was TCOT Deadly Verdict! Mason's client all but admitted she did it, but he found the real killer by the end! And would you believe it was Chadsworth from Dobie Gillis?
What does TCOT mean?
The Case Of The…
teire 4 months ago
The legal minutiae in Perry Mason can be pretty fascinating, and sometimes a case’s solution would hinge on those details. Fun to learn Burr appreciated that aspect.
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