July 17

This Day in History

Literary

Jul 17, 1889:

Erle Stanley Gardner is born

Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of crime-solving attorney Perry Mason, is born on this day in Madlen, Massachusetts.

Gardner attended college in Indiana but dropped out and moved to Southern California. He worked as a typist in a law firm for three years, then became an attorney himself. As a trial lawyer in Ventura, he started turning his law practice experience into short stories, which he successfully submitted to pulp magazines. His stories included detailed descriptions of court and the antics of trial attorneys, based on his own experience.

In 1933, he created his alter ego, Perry Mason, the hero of two stories published that year, "The Case of the Velvet Claws" and "The Case of the Sultry Girl." Soon after, he quit law to write full time and completed more than 80 Perry Mason novels, as well as writing two other detective series.

Perry Mason became a radio serial in 1943. The series, part crime show, part soap opera, ran until 1955. Perry Mason then moved to television in 1957 and starred Raymond Burr; the soap opera portion of the radio series was spun off into a series, The Edge of Night, which ran on daytime television until 1984. Perry Mason ran on television until 1966 and was later revived as a series of TV movies from 1985 to 1993.

Gardner died on March 11, 1970, at age 80.

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