Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 22, 2018


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. ***


Gary R. said...

The uncredited Perry Mason in that screen test looks to be Tod Andrews, probably best remembered(?) for playing the lead in the late '50s Civil War TV series THE GRAY GHOST. In the 1940s he acted under the name Michael Ames and, among other films, appeared in two Bela Lugosi "classics," RETURN OF THE APE MAN and VOODOO MAN.

William said...

And let's not forget "From Hell It Came" where he had to work with a killer tree! Gary, I think you're right that this is indeed Tod Andrews. He amassed 72 credits according to imbd and was still working the year he died.

Although he had a long career as a working actor, getting cast as "Perry Mason" would have given him a certain fame that eluded him. Show bix is probably full of similar stories of what if.

Anyway, thanks for the info. I had wondered who the actor was but couldn't place him. Too bad they don't even name him on the DVD!