14 celebrities who appeared on 'Perry Mason'
The court cases of Perry Mason captivated television audiences from 1957 to 1966, across nine suspenseful seasons. That's not even counting the 30 TV movies that aired from the mid-'80s to mid-'90s.
That adds up to about 300 trials, which means the series had to cast hundreds of suspects, victims and murderers. Over the years, many notable actors passed through Perry Mason — both familiar veterans and rising thespians who would go on to become household names. There are too many to list, but here are some of our favorite guest appearances. Familiar faces from Star Trek, Batman, Gunsmoke, Happy Days, The Love Boat and more went toe-to-toe with Raymond Burr.
"The Case of the Treacherous Toupee" (1960)
The Academy Award winner appeared in the season four opener, playing the son of the murder victim.
"The Case of the Final Fade-Out" (1966)
The final episode takes place on a Hollywood set. Clark plays Leif Early, a television writer, and gets to act drunk. Oh, and this is the only episode to feature Perry Mason creator and legendary mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner. He makes a cameo as a judge.
"The Case of the Clumsy Clown" (1960)
Without his trademark hat and five o'clock shadow, Festus is hard to spot. Oh, and he's wearing a clown costume. Coincidentally, the victim's last name is Curtis. The Gunsmoke favorite is far from his Dodge City persona here.
"The Case of the Counterfeit Crank" (1962)
Months before he began his run on Gunsmoke, the handsome actor filled a minor role as a young man loyal to Perry's client, August "Gus" Dalgren.
"The Case of the Shoplifter's Shoe" (1963)
Nimoy's character acts highly illogical. Spoiler alert: Spock is a murderer. Don't worry, you see it coming a mile away. He delivers a great freak-out denial at the end.
"The Case of the Blushing Pearls" (1959)
Sulu, too! A young Takei does gripping supporting work, with ties to both the victim, in a murder staged to look like seppuku, and the female suspect.
"The Case of the Unwelcome Bride" (1961)
There are more Enterprise crew members on this legal mystery series. Better yet, this episode is a real gem for fans of 1960s television, as Bones McCoy from Trek appears alongside the Skipper from Gilligan's Island!
Alan Hale Jr.
"The Case of the Unwelcome Bride" (1961), "The Case of the Bouncing Boomerang" (1963)
The Skipper popped up in a couple episodes, actually, playing both murderer and murder victim. Hale is the guilty party in "The Case of the Unwelcome Bride." Two years later, he played a Texan named Nelson Barclift who is offed in "The Case of the Bouncing Boomerang." Fun fact: Actress Diana Millay of Dark Shadows also appeared in both episodes.
"The Case of the Crafty Kidnapper" (1966)
In the penultimate episode, the former beauty queen and eventual Phyllis plays Gloria Shine, wife of the murder victim, a noisy reporter.
"The Case of the Lazy Lover" (1958)
Holy serendipity, Batman! Fans of the Caped Crusader take note of this early outing. Craig plays the young Pat, stepdaughter to Bertie, portrayed by Neil Hamilton. Eight years later, the two would play father and daughter again on Batman, as Batgirl and Commission Gordon! This was Craig's third screen credit. Oh, and Nancy Culp appears as "Backwoods Housekeeper."
"The Case of the Angry Mourner" (1957)
A louse with a bum leg in a wheelchair sexually assaults young Carla Adrian, played by the young Jeannie, ripping her blouse in a scene that pushed the boundaries of 1957 television. Later, the jerk turns up dead. This is the first case set outside of L.A., as Perry is out of town in Bear Valley.
"The Case of the Frustrated Folksinger," "The Case of the Cheating Chancellor" (1965)
There were Batman baddies, too! In the former episode, Lee Meriwether, the big screen Catwoman, has a small role in this tale of a singer. Major West from Lost In Space has a larger role in the episode, though let's just say speaking with a Southern drawl was not his forte.
"The Case of the Romantic Rogue" (1959)
It's far from "happy days" for Helen Harvey, who is charged with murder. The future Mrs. Cunningham turns on the tears in a great performance.
"The Case of the Grinning Gorilla" (1965)
Television shows of the 1960s and 1970s were obsessed with gorillas. Not even Perry Mason was immune to the man-in-an-ape-suit high jinks. The future Love Boat captain appears in that episode, deliciously chewing up scenery with a stylish shaved head. MacLeod has a few Perrys on his resume, also appearing in "The Case of the Grumbling Grandfather" (1961) and "The Case of the Runaway Racer" (1965).