Friday, February 12, 2021

The Case of the Fan Dancer’s Horse

Elvis Presley, Howdy Doody, Perry Mason… and a fan dancer?

Q: What is the common thread that ties together those three iconic 1950s figures to an exotic performer?

A: Judy Tyler.

Judy first came to national attention in 1952 as the character Princess Summerfall Winterspring on The Howdy Doody Show, a program for children, broadcast on NBC:

Judy was popular with audiences and the Howdy Doody staff; it was obvious that she was headed for greater things when she left the show for a role on Broadway and was featured on a Life Magazine cover. Judy also did modeling and pin-up work, and went to Hollywood where she starred as Elvis’ love interest in the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock:

While in Hollywood, Judy filmed a pilot for the then-new Perry Mason television drama series: The Case of the Fan Dancer’s Horse. An interesting curio, in it Judy’s character is a fan-dancer performing as “Chi-Chi”. She does a very provocative routine (pictured above) for Perry and Della. After the dance (and she has put some clothes on) she kisses Perry on the lips!
Della was amused by these shenanigans:
Later on, Perry visits Chi-Chi in her apartment. Her flirtation level increases, but Perry manages to keep his cool:
Throughout the series Perry was surrounded by curvaceous cuties and had a stunning and highly competent secretary but never had a romantic involvement with any of them. Hmm…

And the horse? One doesn’t watch Perry Mason for its animal husbandry (although another episode did feature a burro—as a witness!) or its legal issues.

Alas, in real life Judy Tyler’s story had a tragic ending. On July 3, 1957, she died in a car crash in Wyoming, having never seen any of her films or this Perry Mason episode.

After she died, Elvis could never bring himself to watch Jailhouse Rock again.

By Professor Batty


Blogger jono said...

Quite a looker. A few years ago I was able to watch the entire Perry Mason series from beginning to end. It was a real treat! It was probably relatively easy for Mr. Burr to show little interest in his female costars as he was gay. Still there was a fun chemistry between Perry and Della Street. I wonder if she was related to Picabo? :)

Blogger Professor Batty said...

I still watch from time to time, some are much better than others.

The best ones have all the principals: Burr, Hopper, Hale, Talman, and Collins.

Blogger Mary said...

Very interesting! I loved Princess Summerfallwinterspring as a little gurl, but never knew what happened later with her.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Evidently everybody who ever met her loved Judy.

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