How Much Did Perry Mason Make Per Episode?

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Introduction to Perry Mason and the Show’s Legacy

Perry Mason, the iconic legal drama television series, first graced the screens in 1957 and quickly became a staple of American entertainment. The show was based on the novels of Erle Stanley Gardner and followed the thrilling courtroom adventures of the titular character, a defense attorney known for his ability to unravel complex cases and secure justice for his clients. The series’ popularity not only captivated audiences during its original run but also set a standard for legal dramas that followed. In this article, we will delve into the financial aspect of the show, specifically focusing on the earnings of the actors per episode, with a particular emphasis on the lead actor, Raymond Burr, who portrayed Perry Mason.

Understanding Actor Salaries in the 1950s and 1960s

Before diving into the specifics of Perry Mason’s earnings per episode, it’s essential to understand the context of actor salaries during the era when the show was produced. The 1950s and 1960s were a time when television was still finding its footing as a new medium, and actor compensation varied widely based on factors such as the show’s budget, the actor’s fame, and the studio’s financial health.

Raymond Burr’s Role as Perry Mason

Raymond Burr’s portrayal of Perry Mason is often considered the definitive version of the character. Burr brought a sense of gravitas and intelligence to the role, which helped establish the show’s tone and success. His performance earned him two Emmy Awards and solidified his place in television history.

Salary Evolution for TV Actors

To appreciate how much Raymond Burr might have made per episode, it’s important to look at the broader trend of how TV actor salaries evolved over time. In the early days of television, salaries were modest compared to the astronomical figures seen in modern times. However, as the medium grew in popularity, so did the paychecks of its stars.

Raymond Burr’s Salary on Perry Mason

Exact figures regarding Raymond Burr’s salary for his role as Perry Mason are not widely publicized. However, it is known that Burr was one of the highest-paid actors of his time, thanks to the success and longevity of the show. Estimates suggest that his earnings per episode were substantial, especially in the context of the era’s salary standards.

Comparing Salaries to Other TV Stars of the Era

When comparing Raymond Burr’s salary to that of other TV stars of the 1950s and 1960s, it becomes clear that he was among the top earners. Stars of other hit shows of the time also commanded high salaries, but Burr’s role as a leading character in a popular drama likely placed him at the higher end of the spectrum.

Impact of Syndication and Reruns on Earnings

Syndication and reruns have a significant impact on the earnings of TV actors, as they can lead to residual income long after the original airing of the episodes. While the concept of residuals was still developing during Perry Mason’s original run, it’s possible that Burr and his co-stars benefited financially from the show’s enduring popularity.

Salary Discrepancies Among Cast Members

As with most television shows, there were likely salary discrepancies among the cast members of Perry Mason. While Raymond Burr, as the lead actor, would have commanded the highest salary, supporting actors and guest stars would have been paid less. The exact figures for each cast member are not commonly disclosed.

Raymond Burr’s Net Worth at the Time

Raymond Burr’s net worth at the time of Perry Mason’s original run was likely influenced by his salary from the show, as well as other acting roles and business ventures. While specific numbers are hard to come by, Burr’s success on Perry Mason undoubtedly contributed to his financial stability and overall net worth.

Contract Negotiations and Pay Raises

Throughout the nine seasons of Perry Mason, it’s possible that Raymond Burr and other cast members engaged in contract negotiations that could have led to pay raises. As the show’s popularity soared, the actors’ leverage in negotiating higher salaries would have increased.

Comparative Analysis: Then vs. Now

When comparing the salaries of TV actors from the era of Perry Mason to those of contemporary actors, the difference is stark. Today’s TV stars can earn millions per episode, a reflection of the increased revenue generated by modern television series through various distribution channels.

Legacy and Continued Earnings from Perry Mason

The legacy of Perry Mason continues to generate earnings for the estates of the actors involved, particularly through merchandise, reruns, and new adaptations of the show. The continued interest in the series ensures that it remains a profitable enterprise decades after its original broadcast.

Summary Table of Perry Mason’s Earnings Per Episode

ActorEstimated Earnings Per EpisodeContextual Factors
Raymond Burr (Perry Mason)Undisclosed (Estimated to be high for the era)Lead role, show’s success, era’s salary standards
Supporting Cast MembersVaries (Less than lead actor)Role significance, contract terms

FAQs About Perry Mason’s Earnings Per Episode

  • How much did Raymond Burr make per episode of Perry Mason?
    While the exact amount is not publicly known, it is estimated that Raymond Burr was one of the highest-paid actors of his time, suggesting a substantial per-episode salary.
  • Did the cast of Perry Mason receive residuals from reruns?
    The concept of residuals was still developing during the show’s original run, but it’s possible that the cast received some form of residual income from reruns and syndication.
  • How did Raymond Burr’s salary compare to other TV actors of the 1950s and 1960s?
    Burr’s salary was likely among the highest for TV actors of that era, given the success of Perry Mason.
  • Did Raymond Burr’s salary increase over the course of the show?
    While specific details are not available, it is common for actors to receive pay raises through contract negotiations, especially for long-running successful series.
  • How does the salary of actors from Perry Mason compare to today’s TV actors?
    Today’s TV actors can earn significantly more per episode than actors from the era of Perry Mason, reflecting changes in the television industry’s revenue and distribution models.


In conclusion, while the exact per-episode earnings of Raymond Burr for his role as Perry Mason remain undisclosed, it is clear that he was among the top earners in television during the show’s original run. The success of Perry Mason not only set a precedent for legal dramas but also reflected the financial rewards that could be reaped from starring in a hit TV series. Despite the lack of concrete figures, the legacy of Perry Mason continues to be felt, both in terms of its cultural impact and the financial benefits it has provided to those involved with the show. As television salaries have skyrocketed in the decades since Perry Mason aired, the show remains a fascinating case study in the evolution of actor compensation and the enduring value of classic television programming.

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