“Barbara Hale, best known for her Emmy Award-winning role as Perry Mason’s loyal secretary Della Street on the long-running 1950s and ’60s TV series starring Raymond Burr, has died,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Hale was 94.
The story continues, “Hale died Thursday, according to her son, actor William Katt, who posted the news on his Facebook page. Katt’s agent, Jacqueline Sander, said Hale died at home, at peace with her family and friends.”
Says Variety, “Hale played Street, assistant to Raymond Burr’s titular lawyer, in nine seasons of the series and 30 television movies. She spent her early career under contract with RKO, and went on to star in ‘Higher and Higher’ with Frank Sinatra, ‘Lady Luck’ with Robert Young and Frank Morgan, ‘The Window,’ ‘Jolson Sings Again,’ ‘Lorna Doone,’ and ‘The Far Horizons’ with Charlton Heston.”
Writes the Times, “[Hale, a] onetime Chicago fashion model, who was married to actor Bill Williams (TV’s Kit Carson) and had young children at home, wasn’t interested in working full time on a weekly TV series. But at [producer Gail Patrick] Jackson’s urging, she agreed to read the pilot script [of ‘Perry Mason’].
“‘I called back after reading it and said: “Good luck, dear,”’ Hale recalled in a 1993 interview with the Los Angeles Times, saying she didn’t think an actor could sustain Mason’s lengthy courtroom monologues on a weekly basis.”
But then Burr was picked to play Mason, and Hale thought the perfect actor for the part had been found. So she agreed to do the series.
According to IMDB, of the 271 episodes made during the original run of “Perry Mason,” Hale is in all but eight of them. He won a Best Supporting Actress Emmy in 1959 for playing Street.
Burr died in 1993 at age 76. Hale’s husband Williams died in 1992 at age 77.
Here’s Hale being interviewed on a local cable TV show in 1985 that we found on YouTube: