Erle Stanley Gardner

Erle Stanley Gardner

Malden, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 11 Mar 1970 (aged 80)
Temecula, Riverside County, California, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered, Specifically: Ashes scattered above Baja peninsula in Mexico
Memorial ID 6939 · View Source
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Lawyer and Author. A prolific writer, he is best remembered for his "Perry Mason" series of detective stories that were made into the ever popular CBS television series by the same name, starring Raymond Burr, that ran from September 1957 until May 1966, and "The New Perry Mason" CBS television series that ran from 1973 until 1974. After graduating from Palo Alto High School at Palo Alto, California in 1909, he enrolled at Valparaiso University School of Law in Valparaiso, Indiana but was suspended after approximately one month when his interest in boxing became a distraction. He then returned to California to pursue his legal education on his own, and passed the state bar exam in 1911. In 1917 he opened his first law office in Merced, California but closed it after accepting a position at a sales agency. In 1921 he returned to law as a member of the Ventura, California firm Sheridan, Orr, Drapeau and Gardner, and remained there until 1933. In his spare time he began writing for pulp magazines, with his first story published in 1923. He created many series characters for the pulps, including the ingenious "Lester Leith," a parody of the "gentleman thief" in the tradition of A.J. Raffles, and "Ken Corning," crusading lawyer, crime sleuth, and archetype for his most successful creation, "Perry Mason." In his early years writing for the pulp magazine market he set himself a quota of 1,200,000 words a year. In the beginning he typed his stories himself, using two fingers, but later dictated them to a team of secretaries. In 1933 his first novel, "The Case of the Velvet Claws" was published and he left the law firm. With the success of the Mason series, which eventually ran to over 80 novels, he gradually reduced his contributions to the pulp magazines until the medium itself died in the 1950s. Thereafter he published a few short stories in the "glossies" such as Collier's, Sports Afield, and Look, but the majority of his postwar magazine contributions were non-fiction articles on travel, western history, and forensic science. In 1937 he moved to Temecula, California where he remained for the rest of his life. He created "Perry Mason" as a recurring character for a series of Hollywood films of the 1930s and 40s, and then for a titular radio program, which ran from 1943 to 1955. He also created characters for various radio programs, including "Christopher London" (1950), starring Glenn Ford, and "A Life in Your Hands" (1949 to 1952). In 1954 CBS proposed transforming "Perry Mason" into a television soap opera but he opposed the idea and CBS created "The Edge of Night" featuring John Larkin, who voiced Mason on the radio show, as a thinly-veiled imitation of the Mason character. In 1957 "Perry Mason" became a long-running television series with Raymond Burr in the title role. He wrote under numerous pseudonyms, and under the pen name A.A. Fair, he wrote a series of novels about the private detective firm of Cool and Lam. He devoted numerous hours to "The Court of Last Resort," in collaboration with his many friends in the forensic, legal, and investigative communities. The project sought to review and, when appropriate, reverse miscarriages of justice against criminal defendants who had been convicted due to poor legal representation, abuse or misinterpretation of forensic evidence, or careless or malicious actions of police or prosecutors. The resulting 1952 book earned him his only Edgar Award in the Best Fact Crime category. In 1962 he received the Grand Master Award by the Mystery Writers of America. He died at his California ranch from cancer at the age of 80. At the time of his death, he was the best selling American author of the 20th century. The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas houses Gardner's manuscripts, and contains a miniaturized reproduction of his study room.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 13 Nov 1999
  • Find a Grave Memorial 6939
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Erle Stanley Gardner (17 Jul 1889–11 Mar 1970), Find a Grave Memorial no. 6939, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes scattered, who reports a Ashes scattered above Baja peninsula in Mexico.