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Paul and The Cool 'Eyes' Still Rule

Kenneth Avery is a Southern humorist with well over a thousand fans. The charm and wit in his writing span a nearly a decade.

The late, smooth William Hopper as "Paul Drake," on the "Perry Mason Show."

The late, smooth William Hopper as "Paul Drake," on the "Perry Mason Show."

By way of a writer’s note, please know that I do NOT or ever will condone, buy or sell, tobacco in any form and I ask you to do the same. And the photo on this hub about William Hopper “Paul Drake,” the head P.I. on the “Perry Mason Show,” he used tobacco to the point that, and this was the scriptwriters’ fault, and helped to mold the “Drake” character which in those early days in the late 50’s and early 60’s, most guys professional or otherwise, used tobacco. Even a handful of pretty girl actresses used tobacco. Now to be totally-transparent, none of the pretty girl actresses put tobacco in their mouths or lower lips. This would definitely give the actress a termination on the spot.

Here’s a peek at William Hopper. William DeWolf Hopper Jr. was an American stage, film, and TV star.. Hopper was an only child of actor DeWolf Hopperand actress and Hollywood columnist and blacklist proponent Hedda Hopper, he appeared in mostly minor roles in more than 80 feature films in the 1930s and 1940s. After his service in the United States Navy during World War II, he left acting, but in the mid-1950s, he was persuaded by director William Wellmanto resume his film career. He became best known for his work as a P.I., “Paul Drake,“in the CBS television series >

"Perry Mason.”

What more can be said about someone as talented as William Hopper?

A bit of "Hopper" Nostalgia.

I know and acknowledge that there is a half-ton of other famous P.I. actors. The great Humphrey Bogart who did the role of “Sam Spade,” very well. Ad then there is “Phillip Marlowe,” and my favorite, “Charlie Chan.” I love “Chan,” but he and Bogart rate a few notches below “Paul Drake.” And you must get into my mindset before you get angry with me.

“Paul Drake” became a living person with William Hopper the actor. Could Bogart have pulled the role of “Paul Drake?” Not really. Just run those “Perry Mason” shows in your mind and see just how misaligned that Bogart’s presence was with Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale. In simple terms, this just didn’t fit. To be successful, especially in Hollywood then and now, you have to be able to fit. From audition to actual performance, you have to get along with directors, producers and costars. If you do not, then look to be just a nameless face in the casting calls.

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“Paul Drake” not only walked the walk, but easily talked the talk. In many “Mason shows,” all he had to do was open the door to “Mason’s” office door. Plus “Drake’s” catch-phrase, hello, beautiful, he would say to Hale (Della Street). “Drake” used that one phrase so much that it stuck. This line actually solidified Hopper as a bona fide private eye.

“Paul Drake,” as his throng of fans knew, he was a man about town in his off-hours. By that I mean, “Drake” was a ladies man. Even with some single gals that “Mason” represented, “Drake” would throw the gal one or two good lines as before the clock struck, he was taking the wide-eyed girl out to dinner to the dismay of “Mason” and “Della Street.” The scriptwriters knew just how much and how few lines to give “Paul Drake” and when he would give a report to “Mason,” he never missed a beat.

But to me, THE one outstanding edge that “Drake” used to be the private eye who helped crack “Mason’s” cases, was, and now do not laugh, was “Drake’s” flashy, classy convertible cars. From Cadillac’s to Dodge’s. “Drake’ knew just how to drive in and out of a scene. Oh, get this. Not one of “Drake”s shiny hair was ever out of place. See how many actors could pull that off.

Lastly, and I do not want to use the term which goes with tobacco use. We all know the word. The word goes with the word No in several places---offices, schools and hospitals in 2022. If you do not know that one word with two letters, then I suggest that you hit the dictionary.

But the last one and the rest of my thoughts are here in front of you to help you disagree or agree with me about “Paul Drake” being the number one P.I. on TV.

No disrespect toward Bogie, Marlowe and Chan.

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(from  left) Raymond Burr as Perry Mason; William Hopper as Paul Drake and Barbara Hale as Della Street.

(from left) Raymond Burr as Perry Mason; William Hopper as Paul Drake and Barbara Hale as Della Street.

© 2022 Kenneth Avery

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