Throughout the nine seasons of the series, there were countless guest stars who were invited back time and again. Many were quite familiar faces to fans of television. One such was William Boyett, who made a grand total of eight appearances over the nine seasons.
William Boyett, of course, is most highly remembered as playing firmly upright policemen. He portrayed them flawlessly on popular and long-running series such as Highway Patrol and Adam-12. Often when he guest-starred on shows, that was the sort of role they still wanted him to take.
On Perry, William B. played police six of the eight times, a private investigator one time, and a civilian one time. He appeared once in every season, except season 2, for some reason. Perhaps at that point he was too busy with Highway Patrol?
He was present almost from the start, as a motorcycle officer in season 1’s The Angry Mourner. He only had a very brief segment, one which is often cut from syndication prints. That is a pity for several reasons. Not only does it deprive us of seeing William B.’s wonderful acting, it’s an important little scene! Cutting it fiddles with the plot.
Some of his other appearances are also only very short walk-on segments, such as in The Ugly Duckling, The Mischievous Doll, and The Candy Queen. But in each he plays the kind of police character he is noted for and commands the scenes in which he appears.
Occasionally he was given more screentime. In season 3’s The Mythical Monkeys, he has at least two scenes as Paul Drake’s operative Pete Kelton. I haven’t seen this episode uncut, so it’s possible he even appears more than this. Pete is a character I continue to use in my stories. While the usually unseen Faulkner is probably Paul’s most referenced operative, I like using Pete since he was played by William Boyett. (I will probably bring in Faulkner at some point too, though. I love exploring little-seen characters with connections to someone in the main cast.)
He also has several scenes in season 5’s The Renegade Refugee. He is one of the men who attends the spiritual retreat each weekend, and upon hearing a commotion late at night in the monastery, he chides the participants to remember where they are. He turns up several times in court, silently watching the proceedings, and also gives testimony. I was worried whether he would end up being the killer, or otherwise crooked, but his character seems to be, by all indications, perfectly upright.
While he only appears briefly in season 6’s The Hateful Hero, I would say Officer Otto Norden is arguably his most important Perry character. He has a strong connection to a main character, even moreso than Pete Kelton to Paul. Otto is one of Andy’s close friends. He is going to be partnered with Andy’s cousin Jimmy, but on their first night together something goes wrong at a plastics company on their beat and Otto is killed.
Throughout the majority of the episode, suspicion is being cast on not just Jimmy, but Otto as well, and both are suspected of various criminal acts. Andy doesn’t want either of them to be guilty, but he fears at least one of them is. In the end, however, both are cleared—the victims of the “Hateful Hero” of the title. A former police officer, the murder victim blamed Otto for his dismissal from the force. After first trying to cast suspicion of robbery on him, the wretch decided to blame it on any police officer he could and chose Jimmy, before being murdered by his partner in crime.
William B.’s characters are fun to write for. Otto and Pete both appear in The Macabre Mansion, Otto as a spirit in several chapters while Andy is having an out-of-body experience after being fatally shot, and Pete off and on throughout. In an early chapter, Andy encounters him and is rather shaken by his resemblance to Otto. Pete also appeared in, I believe, both mysteries I wrote before that one, and in The Spectral Stalker. While he is an occasional player at best, he may become important in my current mystery The Denying Detective, considering Paul is a main focus in it.
I always look forward to seeing William Boyett pop up in various shows. And his guest spots on Perry are always a treat, even if he’s only present for a minute or two. It’s a shame he was never the main guest star in an episode; that would have been excellent! But I’m grateful for the screentime he did have.