|Burr (right) testing for part of Hamilton Berger|
A special 50th Anniversary DVD of the venerable Perry Mason series features several 1955 screen tests for the actors on the show, introduced by Barbara Hale. Raymond Burr actually tested for the part of Hamilton Berger -- with a different (uncredited) Perry Mason, who is not bad -- and there were other actors auditioned for Perry along with Burr. One test shows William Hopper (Paul Drake) playing Perry with a different Della Street. Then there's Ray Collins playing Lt. Tragg while Hopper again plays Perry. In another test Burr plays Perry while an unknown blond actress plays Della, coming off more like a "B girl" than a private secretary, way too sexy, and not exhibiting much acting ability. A more talented blond actress does a courtroom scene with first Burr as Perry and then Hopper. Judging from these tests, the producers made the right choices for these roles.
Verdict: Interesting "backstage" look at the making of Perry Mason. ***