Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, March 14, 2023


"The Case of the Suspect Sweethearts" by Della Street (from Radio and Television Mirror, May 1950) 

Everybody's favorite criminal defense attorney, Perry Mason, aird as a fifteen-minute daily radio show on CBS Radio from 1943 to 1955, ending after author Erle Stanley Gardner withdrew his support in favor of a daytime television serial that was to begin on CBS in 1956.  Gardner, however, also withdrew his support from the television show after producers insisted that Perry Mason be romantically involved with his secretary, Della Street.  The television show then aired, continuing on in spirit of Perry Mason,  with a new cast of characters and a new title:  The Edge of Night.

"The Case of the Suspect Sweethearts" appears to be based on the radio episodes "The Case of the Honeymoon Killers," which began airing on November 3, 1949, and was scripted by Irving Vendig.  Radio and Television Mirror was a fan magazine that began as Radio Mirror in 1939, eventually incorporated "Television" into its title and ran until 1971; over the years the title was tweaked so often that I doubt if the editors or the staff knew what the exact title of any given issue was.  One sectionm of the magazine -- at least in 1950 (I haven't checked other years) -- was a "Book Bonus," a fictional story often based on actual episodes of various radio or television programs.  That's where "The Case of the Suspect Sweethearts"comes in.

The Perry Mason radio series was unlike the novels.  It was basically a soap opera and was geared to soap opera fans.  There was mystery and detection, but there was also the hint of romance, as well as occasional bits of action. such as Perry firing a gun.  The stories printed in Radio and Television Mirror were also geared to the "typical" soap opera fan.  To give you a taste, here's the first two paragraphs of "The Case of the Suspect Swethearts":

"Looking at Martha -- which the whole city was doing -- it was almost impossible to conceive that those soft, frightened dark eyes had ever blazed with murderous fury, or that those delicate fingers had once gripped a knife and plunged it deep, again and again, into the body of a man.  Looking at her husband, Don, as he sat quietly beside her in the courtroom, the very model of a serious-minded, undramatic young businessman, it was equally impossible to believe that he had helped her.

"Yet so the state prosecution contended.  And such is the power of the time District Attorney Noble was halfwat through his case, you couldn't believe they hadn't done it.  My boss Perry Mason knew they were innocent, and so did I -- partly because Perry never defended a client he thought was guilty, and partly because I was used to discounting the magic power of words, which could pull you this way or that way.  I had learned to look beyond them, and go by feel alone.  But the jury was something else again.  As Perry said, he could hardly go up to them and say 'Look here, friends.  You've got let these youngsters go.  My secretary Della Street knows instinctively that they're not guilty, and Della's instinct is never wrong.' "

It's interesting that this Perry Mason will only defned those he knows are innocent.  The Perry Mason of the books does not consider guilt or innocence; he is only interested in providing the best defence possible -- it is merely a coincidence that through 82 novels and three short stories was Mason's client guilty only once )and in that case Gardner was able to wiggle his way out of things and leave Mason with an unblemished record).

Also, in "The Case of the Suspect Sweethearts," Della admits several times that she is in love with Mason -- and he with her!  Twice during the story, he calls her "Baggage" (in the sweetest way possible) and once, "Darling."

Every other Perry Mason novel or story is told in the third person.  This story is bylined "Della Street," and is told in Della's first person.  So, whoi is the "Della Street" who wrote this tale?  Wikipedia flat-out says it's Gardner, while the FictionMags site says it is a possible pen name for Gardner.  If it was actually written by Uncle Erle, I'd bet earnest money that a heavy-handed editor at the magazine rewrote the tale.  There is always the possibility that Irving Vendig, who wrote the radio episode, penned the story for the magazine.

No matter.  Here is a tale of two yound lovers caught in a treacherous trap of blackmail and murder and facing an ambitious district attorney who hopes to use the case to propel him to higher state office...and only Perry Mason can save them.

As far as I can tell, this story has never been reprinted.  The link takles you to the May 1950 issue of Radio and Television Mirror and "The Case of the Suspect Sweethearts."  Enjoy.


-- "The Case of the Supect Sweethearts" by Della Street (from Radio and Television Mirror, May 1950)

First of all here's a Perry Mason story that few have ever heard of, and the only one ever narrated by Della Street.  Behind the Della Stret pseudonym probably lies Erle Stanley Gardner -- at least that's what Wikipedia claims, or it could have been some staff writer for the magazine, although my money is on Gardner.

Sources differ considerably as to specific titles and dates, but roughly it goes like this:  Radio Mirror began publishing as a fan magazine in November 1933.  The title changed to Radio & Television Mirror in 1939, then to Radio Romances for part of 1945, then back to Radio Mirror until 1951, then sporadically to Radio Television Mirror, Radio TV Mirror, and Television Radio Mirror, and finally to Radio & TV Mirror in 1952.  The May 1950 issue cover title was Radio and Television Mirror with the word "Televsion" superimposed over a large "TV."  It really did not matter what the magazine called itself -- its reasder knew it and were ready by a copy no matter what variation the title might have.   The fan magazine ceased publication in 1977.

The May 1950 magazine carried articles about or by Dick Haines, Arthur Gadfrey, Fibber mcGee, Art Lilater, Ted Mack, and Farn Allison among others.  There were articles on the Radio and Television Awards for 1949, updates on popular programs, lots of pictures of radio and television personalities, as well as a number of innocuous features.  Each issue appears to have had a short story and ths one featured Perry Mason.


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