Perry Mason (1957–1966)
5 user

The Case of the Cowardly Lion 

Tony Osgood is accused of killing a dentist helping treat a lion after the dentist is found dead at the zoo. His girlfriend working at the zoo had been sponsored to enter the US from Germany by the dentist who has a mysterious background.


Arthur Marks


Erle Stanley Gardner (based upon characters created by), Jonathan Latimer


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Raymond Burr ... Perry Mason
Barbara Hale ... Della Street
William Hopper ... Paul Drake
Ray Collins ... Police Lt. Arthur Tragg (credit only)
Carol Eve Rossen ... Hilde Fursten (as Carol Rossen)
Fred Beir ... Tony Osgood
Phyllis Coates ... Frieda Crawson
Leslie Bradley ... Dr. Walther Braun
Warren J. Kemmerling ... Boris Zelbowski (as Warren Kemmerling)
O.Z. Whitehead ... Harry Beacom
Betty Lou Gerson ... Trudie Braun
Paul Birch ... Security Officer Frank Crawford
Paul Langton ... District Attorney Telford
Eddie Quillan ... Bookkeeper Abner Keller
Mack Williams Mack Williams ... Second Judge


In San Diego on a case, Perry Mason is intrigued when he's contacted by Tony Osgood when a newly arrived baby gorilla Toto is kidnapped and his girlfriend Hilde Fursten threatens to return to Germany. He had just been examined in the zoo hospital nursery by Hilde and was in perfect health. Dr. Walter Braun, a dentist who cares for some of the animals, arrives to check Toto and is outraged at what has happened threatening Hilde. Zoo official Tony Osgood intervenes and he and another zoo employee Boris Zelbowski catch the thief: grounds keeper Harry Beacom, who claims someone in Mexico offered him $7000 for the animal. Perry visits Braun at his dentist office arriving just after Braun has a dispute with a woman over money and he threatens his dental assistant who dates the lion keeper after Perry leaves. When Braun is found lying dead in the lion enclosure however, it's Tony Osgood who is charged with murder and Perry agrees to defend him. There's far more going on that simply the theft... Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

zoo | baby gorilla | germany | quota | cage | See All (14) »


Crime | Drama | Mystery







Release Date:

8 April 1961 (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?


In addition to the episode title's reference to "Cowardly Lion," other references to "The Wizard of Oz" in this episode include the name of the baby gorilla (Toto), a sign in the San Diego Zoo pointing to "Lions, Tigers, Bears," and the first two initials of actor O.Z. Whitehead, who plays a key supporting character. See more »


Twice by Perry and once by the Judge the DA (Paul Langton) is called Mr. Telford. But in the credits Paul Langton name is Prosecutor Green. See more »


[first lines]
Tony Osgood: Hello, Frank.
Sec. Officer Crawford: Hi. Funny time to be coming t work, Mr. Osgood. Nealy Five o'clock.
Tony Osgood: Well, I'm not going to work, Frank. I'm gonna pick up Miss Fursten in the hospital.
Sec. Officer Crawford: I should have guessed.
See more »


References The Wizard of Oz (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

Sometime too much information does not help a show
29 July 2013 | by kfo9494See all my reviews

There is so many things going on in this episode that some of the better ideas was crowded out by information that was useless to the story. And when the show ended in a rather abrupt manner, we are left with a show that had high expectations but in reality was just average for a Perry mystery.

The mystery is quite simple as it involves the death of Dr Braun at the San Diego Zoo. He was found in the lion's cage and believed to have been mauled. However when the police learn that the doc died from a blow to the head- they are looking for someone to charge with murder. And trust me there are many people that fit that bill.

We learn that Ole Doc Braum was married to two women. His estranged wife, Trudie, and a young German woman Hilde. We learn that the doc was being blackmailed plus runs another business outside of his duties at the zoo. And with a secretary that seems suspicious the writers have painted a picture that includes many people as suspects.

But when the evidence is gathered the police will charge Tony Osgood, someone that wanted to run away and marry Hilda, with the crime. Perry will defend Tony for the crime and sift through the testimony until he knows the true murderer.

This is one of those episode that only Perry could have came up with the murderer. The viewer will have no idea until a quick confession brings the show to an end. Nothing remarkable about this episode other than a story that Perry tells about a bag of sand and a bicycle. It is sad when that story was the highlight of the show.

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