Perry Mason's Office Decor

I love this old TV show-I’ve been watching it quite a bit. At any rate, Mason was a very successful defense attorney-so he could afford high class digs. His office suite seems to have a bust of Voltaire (or Rousseau?)…there is also a “polynesian” “tiki” style mask on a wall-along with the usual case law books.
Anybody know what significance the tiki mask might have? Voltaire-maybee Mason was a philiosopher?

Or a WW2 veteran of the Pacific Theatre.

Burr and his boyfriend bought a 4,000 acre island in Fiji in 1965, which was about when the series ended. One of his passions was raising orchids. I suppose he could have had an interest in Polynesian culture. As the star, he had a lot of control on the series, getting CBS to keep William Talman, although in a reduced role, after Talman was arrested on a morals charge. So I assume the mask was his.Raymond Burr - Wikipedia

He picked it up on his visit to Tokyo. :wink:

In any case, I doubt anything had any significance other than it looked cool in Perry’s office. At most, the bust probably was meant to indicate he was well-read and the mask that he had visited Trader Vic’s.

Heh. And it’d sure help if you need to repurpose that set for something else later in the episode, right? “Look, nobody’s going to notice that we’re using Perry’s office to double as the embezzling businessman’s office; you just move the table and chairs around, swap out the eye-catching Polynesian mask for a big garish clock or a too-large painting, replace the recognizable bust of Voltaire with an odd-looking lamp, throw in a wall calendar, Bob’s your uncle, cut, print, that’s a wrap.”

Thanks for the replies-as I mentioned, I really like the old TV series. Mason is such a cool guy-never gets rattled.
The old geezer that plays Lt. Trigg-he’s always getting off on the wrong tangent.
Would that real courtroom trials are so dramatic-most of them are rather sleep-inducing.
Mason had quite an office suite-lots of nice decor-waht kind of wood paneling on the walls was that?

Lt Tragg (on witness stand): Yes, I recognize that gun. (pointing) That’s my mark on it.

My brother and I always waited for that line, which seemed to appear sooner or later in just about every episode.

Did that happen more, or less, than the incidental witness breaking down on the stand and confessing?

Ray (Tragg) Collins had a lot of health issues and missed a lot of episodes. In the last few seasons, he was replaced either by “Lieutentant Anderson” or “Lieutenant Drumm.”

But someone confessed on the stand almost EVERY week in every season.

I was always a fan of Hamilton Burger “I object, your Honor. That is incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial. Counselor is on another of his well-known fishing trips”. Hamilton would be sustained on his first few objections but would eventually get overruled and Mason would begin his march to get the wrongly accused defendant free and the guilty party to confess in public, 5 minutes before the hour.

I always wondered how Hamilton Burger kept getting reelected as DA when he was so utterly incompetent in the courtroom!

Of course Ray Collins (Lt. Tragg) was part of Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre, and played Boss Jim Gettys in Citizen Kane.

I think Ham Burger only lost cases against Perry. He’d wipe the floor with lesser defense attorneys. :slight_smile:

I watched Perry Mason all the time when I was a kid. I hadn’t heard the word “defendant” before, and from watching Perry Mason episodes all the time, I figured that the word meant “a person who is accused of a crime, but is innocent.” Because the defendant on the show was never, ever, guilty.

There was a time (50’s?) when Polynesian decor was the cat’s meow, and not unusual in high-class offices.

That’s right. Polynesian and Tiki decor and artifacts had become popular in the late fifties and early sixties, and the purpose of the mask was probably just to lend a further air of contemporariness to Mason’s modern office. Raymond Burr likely wasn’t a big enough star at the time the series started to have any say in the set decoration. For example, he is said to have hated the painting behind Mason’s desk and even took to making small alterations to it from time to time to see if the producers would notice. One would think he could have just had it changed, but apparently not.

Regarding the bust, in the novels it was a bust of Sir William Blackstone, an important British jurist of the 18th century. If the bust in the TV series was of Voltaire, it was probably used merely as a stand-in for Blackstone, for whom actual busts most likely have been hard to come by. I doubt if one viewer in a thousand at the time (no internet) would have known the difference.

The official answer to this, from William Talman (the actor who played Burger), was “You only see the cases we try on Saturdays.”

Another think I have been noticing=Perry Mason works late! Frequently, the windos are dark-and Perry (with Della Street) turn the lights off on the way out.
Paul Drake (Perry’s Private Eye/investigator)-was he on permanent retainer?
As I say, if I ever get in trouble, I want a lawyer like Perry Mason!
Anybody know who wrote the theme music-always liked it.

“Park Avenue Beat” was written by the great Fred Steiner.

As to the original question about the wall mask, it was first displayed in episode 34, season 1. But it was in the office of the defendant, not Mason’s. I’d assume it was simply a set piece that Burr liked. Or maybe he didn’t care and designer liked it.

interesting fact–before he joined repertoire as Lt Tragg, he played role as bad guy manager; when you watch whole series, you see same actors playing different roles