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Perry Mason Season 1 Defendants: Frank Lawton vs. Diana Reynolds

Updated: Jan 19

The tournament's eighth matchup features a scribbler without a shirt and a blonde with a shiner. It's Frank Lawton (The Case of the Half-Wakened Wife) against Whitney Blake's distinctively-haired Diana Reynolds (The Case of the Black-Eyed Blonde). Hyphens abound!

Frank is the Perry's old army buddy. Diana? Let’s say she looks a whole lot like a former client. Let’s see who wins this showdown.

Pregame Analysis: Diana's in the better episode, but Frank has a lot going for him in this head-to-head matchup.

  1. Was the defendant memorable?

As soon as I hear the name Frank Lawton, I conjure up an image of a man without a shirt writing a novel. Add to that image the fact that this guy was friends with Perry, a D-Day vet, a widower after a freak accident took out his wife, then a defendant in a murder case? Yep, memorable.

Diana Reynolds is memorable for all the indignities she suffers. Her roommate shoots a gun at her, her boss's stepson gives her a black eye, and then she has to go through a torturous trial.

Advantage: Frank Lawton, by the smallest of pen strokes

  1. Was the defendant the most compelling non-permanent character in the case?

Part of the problem with Frank is that he spends his time and emotional energy on a woman who murders her husband. He wants to write a novel, but he throws away his notebook. He's a bundle of contradictions, and he towers over everyone else in the episode. Scott Shelby (the deceased) is a run-of-the-mill shnook. His wife (the object of Lawton'sffections) is pleasant in a bland sort of a way until it turns out she framed Frank. The wormy photographer and his wife, the former paramour of our murder victim, are good supporting characters. No one's beating Frank, though.

Diana Reynolds, on the other hand, is in a stacked episode. There's the heel of a stepson, Tony Davis. There's papa Bartlett, the man who alienated his son and now longs to connect to his grandson. There’s the murderer, Norma Carter, and her little tyke Bobby. Diana is a good character, but the episode’s best? No.

Advantage: Frank Lawton

  1. Does Perry respect the defendant?

Perry defends Frank because they're friends, and Frank's been the subject of conversation with Della before the case. As the case ends, Perry confers with Frank at the episode's end as Frank throws away his writing material. Perry knows better than to try and talk Frank out of it.

Perry cares for Diana and gets her the kind of support she needs. This is the first domestic abuse case Perry's handled, and he does so with aplomb. You won’t catch Perry blaming the victim! As the episode ends, however, Diana is far from Perry’s mind. Perry's more concerned with letting Papa Bartlett believe he's found his real grandson. Diana or her prospects never come up.

Advantage: Push

  1. Finally, do we have a prior history with the actor or actress?

Stewart Bradley (Frank Lawton) appears again in Perry in a Season 6 episode, The Case of the Lover's Leap. He'll always be Frank to us, though.

Whitney Blake? She'll always be Perry's first client to me thanks to her role as Evelyn Bagby in The Case of the Restless Redhead. We love you no matter what your hair color is, Whitney!

Advantage: Diana Reynolds

Final Verdict: The judge finds Frank Lawton the victor in this head-to-head matchup, though this was a very close contest.

Congratulations, Frank! Your prize is a brand-new notebook and a set of pens. D'oh! I forgot you'd sworn off writing. We'll see what we can do as a consolation.

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