Raymond Burr, who would have turned 100 years old on May 21, is undoubtedly best remembered for starring as defense attorney on TV’s Perry Mason, which began its long run 60 years ago. Those two anniversaries are reason enough for over-the-air channel MeTV to mark May as “Perry May-son” month.
MeTV runs the classic original series weekdays at 9 am and 11:30 pm ET. While the morning episodes will continue in sequential order (they’re now in the middle of season one), the nighttime hour gets turned over to theme weeks starting today:
“Celebrity Guest Stars” (May 1-5)
Robert Redford kicks off the celebration tonight, guest starring in “The Case of the Treacherous Toupee” (1960). Other guests this week: Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek), Marion Ross (Happy Days), Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeannie) and Burt Reynolds.
“You Win Some, You Lose Some” (May 8-12)
Often known as the lawyer who never lost a case, Mason actually lost three of them during the series. They’ll air in order next Monday through Wednesday. (Spoiler alert: In the third episode, unlike the first two, the verdict is not reversed! Mason really loses!)
“Classic Cases ” (May 15-19)
The original Perry Mason series aired 271 episodes over nine CBS seasons (try binge-watching that!), but only one in color. That episode will air two weeks from today, May 15. It will be followed on Tuesday by the first episode ever filmed and on Wednesday by an episode based on the first Perry Mason novel — written in 1936 by Erle Stanley Gardner, who shows up playing a judge in the Friday, May 19, episode.
“Now You See Him (Twice), Now You Don’t” (May 22-26)
Before starring as Mason, Burr was better known for playing unsavory types in film noir movies. Three weeks from today, May 22, he plays not only Mason but “a man with a few scars on his face, messy white hair and a gritty accent.” Then, for the rest of the week, Bette Davis and others take center stage during a period when Burr was recuperating from jaw surgery. The other subs include Hugh O’Brian (The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) and Mike Connors (Mannix).
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