Perry Mason (1957–1966)
6 user

The Case of the Lame Canary 

Walter Prescott tries to extort all his wife Ruth's money to give her a divorce. As she leaves, a truck almost runs her down, instead crashing into a car and injuring the passenger. Ruth runs to a friend but returns to find Walter dead.


Arthur Marks


Erle Stanley Gardner (novel), Seeleg Lester (teleplay)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Raymond Burr ... Perry Mason
Barbara Hale ... Della Street
William Hopper ... Paul Drake
William Talman ... Hamilton Burger
Ray Collins ... Police Lt. Arthur Tragg
James Philbrook ... Harry Jonson
Stacy Graham ... Ruth Prescott
Biff Elliot ... Jimmy McLain
Susan Cummings ... Margaret Swaine
William Kendis ... Walter Prescott
Berry Kroeger ... Ernest Wray
S. John Launer ... Judge
Michael Fox ... Dr. Hoxie
Emerson Treacy ... Dr. Fowler
Chet Stratton Chet Stratton ... Hotel Clerk


After Ruth Prescott's husband Walter refuses to give her the divorce she's asked for, she runs out of the house and is nearly run over by a furniture delivery truck that rams a parked car severely injuring the occupant. Ruth is convinced that her husband tried to have her killed to get his hands on what is left of her inheritance. She calls Jimmy McLain who she is in love with who tells her to come to his apartment. When she arrives, Jimmy is gone but his gun holster is there - empty. She returns home to destroy love letters from Jimmy McLain but finds her husband dead on the floor and a gun lying on the carpet beside him. While burning the love letters, Walter's secretary Margaret Swaine walks in and leaves after seeing the body. Ruth takes the gun and a toppled bird cage with an injured canary. She consults Perry Mason who puts Paul Drake on the case to track down the people involved. Paul finds the the car that was struck has been found with the driver dead. Ruth is charged with ... Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery








Release Date:

27 June 1959 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This appears to be the only acting credit for Ray Phillips who played the motorcycle cop. See more »


Jonson's truck crashed into Walden's car hard enough to seriously injure Walden, but neither the car nor the truck show any damage. See more »


[first lines]
Ruth Prescott: Walter, please listen to me.
Ruth Prescott: I'm all ears.
Ruth Prescott: I've tried to make a go of our marriage. It just hasn't worked.
Walter Prescott: I'm not complaining, Ruth.
Ruth Prescott: It's been more than two years. A long time to pay for a mistake. I want a divorce.
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User Reviews

That's the first time I heard of a lame canary turning out to be a stool pigeon!
24 May 2013 | by sol1218See all my reviews

****SPOILERS**** Perry Mason, Raymond Burr, gets himself involved in a strange double murder case involving the falsifying of insurance invoices that his client Ruth Prescott, Stacy Graham, was unknowing involved in. The fact that Ruth was almost killed by a runaway truck after having it out with her greedy, for her money, husband Walter, William Kendis, opened up a real can of worms that Perry now got himself involved. That by him defending Ruth in the murder of her husband Walter whom she, after almost being rundown and killed, found shot to death in the family home.

It's only later that Perry finds out together with his in house private eye Paul Drake, William Hopper, that it wasn't Ruth that was the target of the runaway truck, who's brake cables were mysterious tampered with,but insurance investigator Fred Walden who was investigating Walter Prescott! As for the injured Walden after being driven by the truck driver Harry Johnson, James Philbrook, to the nearest hospital to get patched up he was later found dead at the bottom of a gully that his car drove off from.

It's Walter Prescott's murder that puzzles Perry in that not only did he have strange what looked like self inflicted scratches all over his face and body but his and Ruth pet canary was found injured in its cage that was knocked down on the floor! Besides Ruth being found by Prescott's secretary Margaret Swaine, Susan Commings, at the murder scene with the murder weapon she was also found by Miss Swaine trying to burn a stack of love letters from her former lover Jimmy McLain, Biff Elliot. As for McLaine it's discovered that he in fact went to the Prescott residence at the time of Walter's murder only to find the house empty!

****SPOILERS**** Perry somehow connects Walden's fatal car accident to Prescott's murder. It's too much of a coincident for both men having died so close to each other who as Perry soon found out were so closely connected. Prescott a freight manager and Walden an insurance investigator who was secretly investigating him. And as Perry later found out Walden didn't die in a car accident as reported by the state police but was in fact murdered not far from Prescott's home with him being impersonated, while supposedly being taken to a local hospital, by his killer!

P.S Tough Guy Biff Elliot as Ruth's lover Jimmy McLain was the original brutal and no holds barred private eye Mike Hammer in his, Mike Hammer's, movie debut in the 1953 film "I the Jury". During the Perry Mason episode when asked why he wanted to see the late Walter Prescott Biff or Jimmy McLain, kept on saying I didn't want to hurt him I just wanted to talk to him that's all. In knowing Biff's reputation as a tough guy who doesn't take no for an answer I just wonder what kind of civil and friendly conversation he would have had with him if the two ever met!

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