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Raymond Burr Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (35) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 21 May 1917New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
Date of Death 12 September 1993Geyserville, California, USA  (liver cancer)
Birth NameRaymond William Stacey Burr
Nickname Ray
Height 6' 1½" (1.87 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Born Raymond William Stacy Burr on 21 May 1917 in New Westminster, British Columbia, Burr spent most of his early life traveling. As a youngster, his father moved his family to China, where the elder Burr worked as a trade agent. When the family returned to Canada, Raymond's parents separated. He and his mother moved to Vallejo, California, where she raised him with the aid of her parents. As he got older, Burr began to take jobs to support his mother, younger sister and younger brother. He took jobs as a ranch hand in Roswell, New Mexico; as a deputy sheriff; a photo salesman; and even as a singer in nightclubs. In World War II, Burr served in the United States Navy. In Okinawa, he was shot in the stomach and sent home. In 1946, Burr made his film debut in San Quentin (1946). From there, he appeared in more than 90 films before landing the role of defense attorney Perry Mason (1957). After a battle with cancer, Burr died at age 76 on September 12, 1993 at his ranch home in Sonoma, California.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Kelleher, Brian

Spouse (1)

Isabella Ward (10 January 1948 - 22 August 1952) (divorced)

Trade Mark (3)

Heavyset stature.
Frequently played villains or cowardly roles.
Deep commanding voice.

Trivia (35)

Had an art gallery on Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive in the early 1950s.
Raymond loved to cook and throw intimate dinner parties.
While working with Errol Flynn, Flynn told him that if he died with ten dollars in his pocket he hadn't done a good job. This inspired him to always share his wealth with all.
On October 1, 1993, a memorial service was held at the Pasadena Playhouse. It was the very same theater in which Burr had made his acting debut 50 years before. A director's chair with his name on it, placed at center stage, played host to friends who paid tribute.
Suffered eye strain from always having to look upwards while in a wheelchair on the Ironside (1967) set.
Was a lounge singer in his younger days.
Before dying from cancer, he threw some grand parties to say farewell to many of his friends.
Interred at Fraser Cemetery, New Westminister, British Columbia, Canada.
Bought his own 3,000-acre island 165 miles northeast of Suva in Fiji in 1965 and named it Naitamba, where he raised cattle and copra.
Left his $32-million estate solely to long-term partner Robert Benevides.
The Columbia Theatre on Columbia Street in New Westminster, British Columbia, was renamed in his honor in 2000.
He, Michael J. Fox and Jim Carrey head a list of top Canadians in United States television compiled by Banff Television Festival in June 2002.
He was the director of the Pasadena Community Playhouse before entering the United States Navy in World War II.
He attended Stanford, Columbia and Chungking Universities.
He taught drama at Columbia University.
He was incredibly generous, giving most of his money to charities and sharing it with friends.
Longtime companion of Robert Benevides. Benevides was a young actor Burr met on the set of the original Perry Mason (1957) television series. He was thirteen years Raymond's junior. He had a small role in the sci-fi film The Monster That Challenged the World (1957), billed as Bob Benevedes.
Burr's official biography stated that he had been previously married, but both his wives and one child had died. However, these details were fabricated in an attempt to hide the fact that Burr was gay. Only one brief marriage which ended in divorce had actually occurred; the other marriage and the child were fiction.
Was the original host of Unsolved Mysteries (1987), hosting only its first special in January 1987. He was then briefly replaced by Karl Malden. However, both actors requested salaries that producer John Cosgrove deemed astronomical. So by the time the show became a regular series in 1988, Robert Stack had been hired as the permanent host at what the producer believed to be a more reasonable salary.
In 1990, not long before he grew ill with cancer, Burr and longtime partner Robert Benevides started a vineyard at their Dry Creek Valley ranch, and released their first vintage. The wine was bottled in November 1992 and released after Burr's death in 1995.
He had an interest in, and knowledge of, the cultivation and hybridization of orchids. He and partner of 35 years, Robert Benevides, set up Sea God Nurseries, becoming, in the 20-odd years of its operation, an international presence with ranges in Fiji, Hawaii, the Azores and Southern California. They were responsible for over 1,500 new orchids added to the worldwide catalog. Burr cultivated an orchid that he named after his former Perry Mason (1957), co-star, Barbara Hale, as the symbol of friendship.
He is commemorated on a 2008 Canadian postage stamp, one of four honoring achievements of Canadians in Hollywood. The other three depict Norma Shearer, Marie Dressler, and Chief Dan George.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 3, 1991-1993, pages 84-85. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001.
Featured in "Bad Boys: The Actors of Film Noir" by Karen Burroughs Hannsberry (McFarland, 2003).
His parents, Minerva and William Burr, after 33 years of separation, remarried in 1955.
After he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, he refused to undergo surgery so that he could star in his final television movies: The Return of Ironside (1993) and Perry Mason: The Case of the Killer Kiss (1993).
His mother Minerva died in 1974, at age 81 of cancer, while his father, William, died in 1985, at age 96.
Dropped out of San Rafael Military School at age 17 to join the Civilian Conservation Corps, where he learned to fight forest fires and plant trees.
His parents were married in Canada in 1914, after they migrated from Chicago, Illinois.
Was considered for the role of Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke (1955). In an August 23, 1975 article in TV Guide called When Chester Forgot to Limp commemorating trivia from the show as it was about to leave the air, the show's first producer Charles Marquis Warren recalled: "His voice was fine, but he was too big. When he stood up, his chair stood up with him." William Conrad, who played Matt Dillon on radio, was rejected for the TV version for similar reasons. In a memorial article in TV Guide published shortly after Burr's death, the original producers of Perry Mason (1957) almost rejected Burr for that role, again because Burr was overweight. He went on an intensive diet to get down to a size acceptable to the producers.
Appears as lawyer Perry Mason, with William Talman as district attorney Hamilton Burger, on a 44¢ USA commemorative postage stamp in the "Early TV Memories" issue honoring Perry Mason (1957), issued 11 August 2009.
Best remembered by the public for his starring roles as the title characters of both series: Perry Mason (1957) and Ironside (1967).
Has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6656 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
His father was of Northern Irish descent. His mother had English, German, Scottish, and Northern Irish ancestry.

Personal Quotes (2)

Let's just say that the part isn't conducive to leisurely living the way I once knew it. I only hope that I can regain my own identity, once I decide that Perry Mason and myself have come to the parting of the road. Perry Mason has become a career for me . . . all I know is that I work, eat and sleep Perry Mason.
Try and live your life the way you wish other people would live theirs.

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