As a collector, I am absolutely thrilled and delighted by memorabilia for my favorite things. Naturally, this started me wondering what kinds of merchandise had been released for Perry Mason. Eliminating all talk of the original books, I will focus solely on what I’m aware was released for the television series. Also, I won’t really make too much mention of the videos and DVDs; surely we all know about those. And they’re not exactly what I would consider memorabilia; videos and DVDs, as far as I’m concerned, are a must. It’s mainly the fun but unnecessary little (or big) collectibles that I see as memorabilia.
Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to learn much of anything about the collectibles that do exist. Some of them are extremely rare. And even with those more common, people don’t seem to provide a great deal of helpful information about them.
There were two items called Mystery Magazines released by comic company Dell during 1964. I really don’t understand why they were called such; they were just regular-length comic books. “Mystery Magazine” implies something much bigger and more exclusive, at least to my way of thinking.
I can’t learn anything about issue #1, other than what’s written on the cover picture: “A gun! A glass eye! Perry Mason must solve the case with only two clues…” It sounds like either an original story or possibly an adaption of a book that was never an episode. (Anyone know of a storyline involving a glass eye?)
Issue #2, according to my scant findings, was an adaption of episode #5 The Sulky Girl. There are scans available on this website: http://comics.ha.com/c/item.zx?saleNo=7063&lotIdNo=127010 for at least a few of the pages, but you have to join in order to see them properly. The artwork looks fairly good, from what I can see, but I don’t want to judge the storyline until I can examine the entire adaption (if that ever happens).
The comics seem to be among the most expensive of the memorabilia. When I see issues listed, they can go as high as several hundred dollars.
This article here: http://vintages-antiques-collectibles.knoji.com/perry-mason-tv-show-memorabilia-values/ mentions a drinking glass with the show’s logo and a picture of Lady Justice. That sounds interesting, but I confess I’ve never been very interested in merchandise with only a logo on it. I want characters’ pictures!
And then there are the games. It seems Perry Mason was a fairly popular thing to adapt into games.
Around 1959 we had something called The Case of the Missing Suspect. Instead of me trying to explain all the rules, here’s the extent of the information I’ve found on it (which isn’t much): http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/5633/perry-mason-game-case-of-the-missing-suspect It sounds quite fun. Eight different cases to solve, clues, questioning witnesses, trying to find the missing suspects. . . . It reminds me a little bit of Clue.
Then in the eighties, there were two more games: the afore-mentioned computer game and another board game. I’m assuming the reunion movies are what sparked the interest enough to do this. To my relief, the games take place in the television series universe instead of the movie universe, and hence, seem to feature all of the original characters in some form or another.
The board game was just called The Perry Mason Game. http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3688/the-perry-mason-game Hamilton made it onto the cover and the board itself, which geekily pleases me! It sounds like in this game, you actually act out being in court, which is awesome. And someone tells me that there are two mysteries for the game: The Stuttering Bishop (book version?) and The Tandem Target. (I also wonder if Andy is around, even if unnamed, since he was very prominent in The Tandem Target episode.) It actually is referred to as being like Clue.
(… And excuse me, I have to interrupt this entry to cheer. My area finally has a MeTV affiliate! It just started this week. YES! A station that won’t skip seasons seven and eight of Perry! And so many other oldies shows are now open to me! I’m so excited right now! Now I have all three of the broadcast oldies channels: Me, Antenna, and THIS!)
Ahem. Okay, sorry. Now, if I can concentrate long enough to go on with what I was saying. . . . (Which is starting to look unlikely. . . .)
The computer game, being made in 1985, was for DOS. Hence, it was mostly text. They did occasionally insert illustrations, from the sixteen minutes I saw of someone’s walkthrough (which only got them to the beginning of the court case). Della looked the most like herself in her illustration. I think they were trying to portray William Talman’s and Ray Collin’s versions of Hamilton and Tragg in the illustrations, too, although I wasn’t quite sure. And Tragg’s description, as previously mentioned, did not sound like Ray’s Tragg. There was also a Sergeant, but it wasn’t Brice. (Poor, neglected Brice.) It was someone I’d never heard of. Why didn’t they just use Brice?
And as for the gameplay, well, apparently you type commands and then receive descriptions based on those commands. For instance, if you want to read a suspect’s dossier, you type something like “Read ____’s File.” If you’re searching a room, you type the locations where you look. It’s very interesting. If you type something that doesn’t make sense, you’ll be told to try again, “Counselor”. Being mostly text-based, it’s really like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, leaving much to the imagination.
It’s fascinating and intriguing, to see how they handled things back then, but I can’t help wishing they would get the bright idea to make a Perry computer game now. Wouldn’t that be awesome? There’s so many innovations in 3D technology, they could really come up with models that look like the characters from the series! (If they could get permission to use the likenesses, of course.) I would so buy a game like that!
Heck, I’d buy the original game, if we had a working computer with the disk drive to fit the size of disk it came on. (And if I could buy it for a decent price.) Come to think of it, I think at least one of those computers does still work.
There have been non-fiction books written about Perry. I suppose the most well-known is The Perry Mason TV Show Book. Despite its inaccuracies, and me having some serious disagreements over some of the authors’ personal opinions on characters, I love the book and am often going back to re-read parts of it. I’m not sure why they decided to put it online, but I was thrilled the first time I found it there years ago. http://www.perrymasontvshowbook.com/
Some time ago, I noticed this little thing on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Perry-Mason-Milestones-Thomas-Leitch/dp/0814331211/ref=wl_it_dp_o_piT1_S_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=2ELK10PKQ7BY2&coliid=I29J1HLKFX9P3B But I’ve searched high and low and I can’t find any real information on it. Does anyone know what it is and how good it is?
Then there were, of course, articles and books written on some of the actors involved with the series. A couple of books were done about Raymond Burr, but I question the level of their accuracy and I won’t get into that here. There are a few old magazines with articles listed on that list of ten bits of memorabilia. I imagine there are others. I’ve got a few old TV Guides with full and half page ads for some of the reunion movies. And even though I don’t consider them canon, I find that neat.
There are quite a few 1950s and 1960s articles written about Perry and the cast members that can be found in old newspaper archives, as demonstrated to me by someone from the Perry Yahoo Group. He very graciously typed up many of them for the members to read. The originals were taken from online newspaper scans here: http://www.fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html (And hopefully there are other articles of interest to be found there as well.) I highly encourage perusal!
Now, where the video and DVD releases are concerned, of course Columbia House released theirs before CBS did any of their boxsets. Columbia, unfortunately, did not get around to releasing all of them, and they never released in any specific order. At least, not to my knowledge, even though they do have themed tapes for some series. But Columbia’s releases are important for one little thing: there are a few episodes of seasons 7, 8, and 9 available from them that are not currently available anywhere else (unless you have Me or another channel that shows those seasons in full!). This well-known and well-loved website lists which ones were released: http://www.storrer.com/masongardner/pmesg.htm
CBS has currently released up to all of season 6. I am highly anticipating the first half of season 7 this month!
There are other kinds of memorabilia. There are press photographs, both signed and unsigned, available on eBay and other locations. I like checking eBay every now and then to see what’s available. There’s quite an impressive selection!
There are scripts and props and things like Emmy Award statuettes. I would love some scripts of the episodes I particularly adore. So far I haven’t located any of those, but this website does have copies of three out-of-town season 8 episodes, if you just want the script contents and don’t care about having an original: http://www.crossovers.net/makeitgoaway/ I’ve communicated with the people before and got hold of a copy of a Monkees script. I have been very impressed with their services!
You can find a purchasable and downloadable MP3 of the theme song, Park Avenue Beat, at Amazon.com and probably on iTunes as well. It’s a full-length version, very interesting.
CBS has a site where they sell T-shirts of many CBS series: http://www.shoptvcity.com Unfortunately, there aren’t any of Perry! They mostly just have logo stuff too, but some series do feature character shirts! I’ve emailed asking about the possibility of Perry shirts in the future. If all of the interested fans could show them that there’s a definite market for Perry shirts, perhaps they would make some.
If anyone is aware of any other Perry memorabilia, let me know! Meanwhile, I’m dancing off to Livejournal to squeal over having MeTV at long last.