Raymond Burr

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Raymond Burr

Born

5/21/1917, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada

Died

9/12/1993

Birth Name

Raymond William Stacy Burr

Gender

Male
9.4
out of 10
User Rating
25 votes

Biography

EDIT
Raymond Burr will always be known principally as Perry Mason, and later as the wheelchair bound Chief in the series Ironside. His life was much more as Burr began his acting career playing not-so-popular heavies, yet almost to his last day, he ensured his memory to millions of…more

Credits

Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Raymond Burr played Dragnet's Chief of Detectives Thad Brown on both TV and radio.

    • Raymond Burr starred as US Cavalry Captain Lee Quince in the 1954 radio western Fort Laramie. The series was highly regarded but ran for only one season.

    • Raymond Burr was considered for the role of Matt Dillon in the TV version of Gunsmoke but was deemed too heavyset for the part.

    • Raymond Burr played Inspector Hellman, Jack Webb's police nemesis, on Webb's 1949 radio series, Pat Novak - For Hire. On occasion, Burr also announced the ABC series.

    • When producer Fred Silverman approached Raymond Burr to reprise the role of Perry Mason in 1985, Burr later recalled, "I said yes in two seconds."

    • Before he joined the Navy in World War II, Raymond Burr was the director of the Pasadena Community Playhouse.

    • The 1993 TV movie The Return of Ironside was intended to be the first in a series, much like Raymond Burr's Perry Mason movies. However, Burr's death derailed plans for a new series of Ironside movies.

    • On Perry Mason, Raymond Burr had about 80% of the dialogue in the script, so he usually had to learn twelve pages of dialogue every day (seventy-two pages a week).

    • Because Raymond Burr was still making Perry Mason revival movies as he prepared to shoot The Return of Ironside in 1993, he dyed his hair and shaved his full beard to a goatee for the Ironside movie to make himself look less like Mason.

    • One of Raymond Burr's hobbies was cultivating orchids. He hybridized an orchid and named it for his Perry Mason co-star, Barbara Hale.

    • After he left the navy, Raymond Burr (at 340 pounds) was told by Hollywood agents that he was overweight for movies, Raymond Burr spent six months living on 750 calories per day. Now weighing 210 pounds, he got his first film role, bit part as Claudette Colbert's dancing partner in Without Reservations (1946).

    • Raymond Burr auditioned, but was rejected, for the role of Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke on TV.

    • In 1963, Raymond Burr missed four episodes of Perry Mason due to illness. The character of Mason was replaced in these episodes by other attorneys played by Bette Davis, Walter Pidgeon, Hugh O'Brian and Mike Connors.

    • Supposedly, Alfred Hitchcock cast Raymond Burr as murderer Lars Thorwald in Rear Window as a dig at producer David O. Selznick, whom Alfred Hitchcock felt interfered too much. Burr's resemblance to Selznick motivated Hitchcock to cast him as the film's villain.

    • In addition to winning Emmys in 1959 and 1961 for Perry Mason, Raymond Burr was also nominated for Mason in 1960.

    • During the filming of Ironside, Raymond Burr injured his eyes. As he was in a wheelchair, he had to look up directly into the set's lights and his eyes were burned.

    • Raymond Burr was asked to read for the role of D.A. Hamilton Burger on Perry Mason, and agreed only if he could also audition for the title role. When Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner saw Burr's audition, he said, "That's him!", and Burr was cast as Perry Mason.

    • Raymond Burr was the original host of Unsolved Mysteries. He was replaced by Robert Stack after making what producers considered to be astronomical salary demands.

    • Raymond Burr was nominated for six Emmy awards for his portrayal of the title role on Ironside.

    • Raymond Burr and long-time friend Robert Benevides opened a vineyard in Dry Creek Valley together. After Burr passed away, Benevides named it Raymond Burr Vineyards, and it is still in operation today.

    • Raymond won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series twice for his role in Perry Mason.

  • Quotes

    • Raymond Burr: Perry Mason is a marvelous show because it has so much to do with peoples' lives and television. People were buying television sets when Perry Mason first went on, and it all goes back to that nostalgia.

    • Raymond Burr: I'm a fine guy to be an actor. Can't stand to have my picture taken.

    • Raymond Burr: (on the innocence of Perry Mason's clients) Perry is rather judicious in picking his clients and happens to believe correctly. What would you want us to do? Send an innocent man to the chair?

    • Raymond Burr: (on returning as "Perry Mason" in 1985) when I sat down at the defense table again, it was as if 25 years had been taken off my life. I don't think there's anything wrong with returning to a character. I played Macbeth when I was 19, and I would do it again. But of course I wouldn't do it exactly the same way. Similarly, I hope there's been a progression in the way I play Perry Mason.

    • Raymond Burr: (when asked by a female fan why Perry Mason won every case) But madam, you only see the cases I try on Saturday.

    • Raymond Burr: People remember the early days of television with a lot of affection, and Perry Mason is associated with those early memories. I think in these times people also want a reaffirmation of our system of justice.

    • Raymond Burr: (on the eve of his return as Perry Mason in 1985) I always said I'd do a two-hour movie about Perry Mason. I would not do another series. But at no time did we have a chance to do Erle Stanley Gardner's books properly in the nine years we were on the air. We had to simplify the books' multiple clues and the characterizations as well. I always wanted to do a longer film for Erle.

    • Raymond Burr: Try and live your life the way you wish other people would live theirs.

SUBMIT REVIEW
  • One of the few actors to achieve big success with two different shows.

    9.0
    For an actor to achieve the success that Raymond Burr did, anchoring two successful shows with close to decade-long runs for each is rare. And perhaps it is even more rare for an actor to do it with Burr's sense of generosity and philanthropy among his fellow actors and fellow men.



    As Perry Mason, Burr carried the series and defined the TV "defense attorney" for decades to come. He delivered a nuanced, hard-boiled performance and took his work seriously, often doing his own legal research to better understand the show and its concepts. That the character was so warmly received in the 1980s and 1990s reunion movies is a testament to the strength of the series and of Burr's performance. After a nine-year run of "Perry Mason" wrapped up, Burr immediately jumped into "Ironside," which itself ran for eight seasons. And it wasn't just a case of Perry Mason in a wheelchair. Robert Ironside was a distinctive character, crass and ill-tempered and miles away from Mason. But Burr made them both work. Even when illness struck him late in life, he kept working. He worked right up to his death, finishing one last "Perry Mason" movie before succumbing to cancer.



    It's almost ironic that Raymond Burr would be remembered as the upstanding, heroic Perry Mason and Ironside after breaking into acting in villainous roles (most famously as Lars Thorwald in "Rear Window.") He is remembered today as a tremendous talent and a genuine, caring man who has given the world hundreds of hours of entertainment.moreless
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