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 TV Character Bios

MATLOCK, Benjamin Layton "Ben"
(Matlock)
(555-9930 (Work)
618 Peachtree Street
Atlanta, GA 30303 (Willow Springs)

Ben is a Harvard-educated attorney. Born in the town of Mount Harlan, Georgia, Ben is widowed, wears the same old light grey/white suit everywhere (wrinkles and all) and exudes a down-home demeanor that hides his sly courtroom abilities. Ben's favorite food is a hot dog. In fact, the password to his home security system is "HOTDOG." As a hobby, Ben collects old coins.

Andy Griffith as Ben Matlock

In between cases, Ben likes to polish his shoes (tops and bottoms) and maybe pick up a banjo or guitar to strum a comforting tune to pass the time away. He also likes to go fishing and to make fudge.

Ben law firm is called Matlock & Matlock. He charges a retainer fee of $100,000 per case. And although his clients tend to be wealthy and high profile individuals, when they visit Matlock, none of them are permitted to smoke in his office, not even his "best paying clients."

Ben shares his legal workload with his attorney daughter and partner Charlene Matlock. Their support staff included Sarah, Ben's law clerk (replaced by Cassie Phillips); and Tyler Hudson, a stock market investor who did Ben’s legwork. When Tyler left the firm, a former police deputy named Conrad McMasters took over his responsibilities as the firm's investigator. Ben later used an attractive investigator named Jerri Stone to help with his cases.

Latecomers to Matlock's firm were Michelle Thomas who replaced Charlene when she moved to Philadelphia to set up her own practice in 1987; and Cliff Lewis, a recent law school graduate whom Matlock hired as a favor to his friend Billy Lewis, Ben's old nemesis (Cliff blames Ben for breaking his sister Lucy's heart although Ben claims they split amicably years earlier).

Linda Purl as Charlene Matlock

Nancy Stafford as Michelle Thomas

Brynn Thayer as Leanne McIntyre

Charlene Matlock Michelle Thomas Leanne McIntyre
Kari Lizer as Cassie Phillips Julie Sommars as Julie Marsh Carol Huston as Jerri Stone
Cassie Phillips Julie March Jerri Stone
The "Females" in Matlock's Life

In 1992, Ben's other daughter Lee Ann McIntyre, a prosecutor from Philadelphia moved to Atlanta after separating from her husband and became a partner in the firm of Matlock & McIntyre. Other Matlock relatives included Ben's father Charlie Matlock, the owner of a gas station (now deceased); Ben's cousin, Diana Huntington; Ben's uncle, Bink; and Ben's nephew, Irwin Bruckner, a certified genius at the Mansbridge Institute whom Ben defended when he was charged with murder.

Generally, Ben's clients were innocent, but the evidence against them always seemed to be so convincing that even Ben had to think seriously about whether he wanted to defend the person. But when Ben took a case, you can bet that he will get his client off. Many of the cases involved clever frame-ups. Matlock once told a client: "Every year I look for the nastiest, hatefulest, meanest man to represent and this year you're it."

Matlock tried his first case in 1962 when he defended a black cook accused of murdering a white sheriff. Of course, Ben won that case and continued to win most of his cases thereafter. When Ben did lose a case (which was rarely), he kept tabs on his convicted clients and continued to research evidence that would exonerate them. Ben did lose a case in small claims court in 1962 when he sued a women who sold him a faulty refrigerator for $68.42.

Most of the Ben's cases deal with high profile clients involving wealthy people who can afford his $100,000 retainer fee, but occasionally, he will take a case pro bono when he feels the case warrants his talents and he believes the person charged with a crime is truly innocent. But although altruistic, Ben is still a shrewd businessman and in the end, he would always arrange some sort of payment plan. Once, in exchange for his services, Ben made his client paint his house. And to be sure, Ben checked out the final job to make sure he got his monies worth.

In court, Ben's attempts to weave a convincing argument sometimes irritates the judge on the bench. When the judge queries Ben about his circuitous line of questioning, Ben always reassures the judge saying "Give me a minute, your honor and I'll make the connection."

Kene Holiday as Tyler Hudson

Clarence Gilyard, Jr as Conrad McMasters

Don Knotts as Les 'Ace' Calhoun

Tyler Hudson Conrad McMasters Les "Ace" Calhoun
Matlock's "Male" Friends

Ben stiffest competition was a feisty redheaded attorney named Julie Marsh, who hailed from Nebraska and now worked for the D.A.'s office in Atlanta. Ben considered her "the wildest, most ruthless prosecutor" in the state. Of course, Ben became romantically interested with Julie, whose abilities equaled his own. Among her many talents, Julie was an expert in jewelry.

A sampling of Ben's typical cases included:

  • a gambler accused of killing blackmailing bookie.
  • a man charged with murdering a newspaper editor.
  • a wife accused of shooting her philandering husband.
  • a union boss accused of murdering a rival.
  • a health spa client accused of killing an amorous aerobics instructor.
  • a stripper charged with murder of her ex-husband.
  • a husband suspected of killing his wealthy wife.
  • a son of a wealthy businessman, (now an Army private) charged with murdering an officer.
  • a cop accused of taking bribes from, and then killing a fence.
  • a son of an American businessman living in London convicted of his father's murder.
  • a blind sculptor accused of murdering the man responsible for his blindness.
  • a sexually harassed young lawyer accused of murdering her boss.
  • a client charged with murder of a popular romantic advice columnist.
  • a Vietnamese immigrant charged with the murder of a bigoted fisherman.
  • an emotionally unstable heiress charged with murder; a rare-coin dealer accused of murdering a thieving employee.
  • a mentally handicapped stable hand accused of murdering the manager of a Thoroughbred farm.
  • a man accused of murdering a duck hunter who "accidentally" shot his brother.

Continued next page >


 

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