Barbara Hale on the one thing that worried her about working with Raymond Burr

Della Street and Perry Mason were very believable co-workers. Here's what almost hindered their chemistry.

Everything about Perry Mason was rooted in realism. While some other shows might bend reality just a little bit to make things more exciting, Mason's appeal was in the show's plausibility. It was, after all, based on the novels of Erle Stanley Gardner, himself a former lawyer. Courtroom dramas have to be dramatic, but Perry Mason never sacrificed its credibility for sensationalism.

The focal relationship of the series was the one between Perry Mason and his secretary, Della Street. As portrayed by Barbara Hale, Della was poised and competent. She was Mason's equal in every way and was frequently much more important than her job description.

Part of what made Perry Mason so compelling was the natural chemistry between Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale. The show's offices were constantly flooded with letters inquiring about when the characters would get together. Viewers were desperate for Della and Perry to get together. There were even some that assumed the actors must be together in real life. 

The truth, though, was that the two actors were great at their job, and enjoyed the time they spent together working towards their common goal of making great television.

In 1965, Hale spoke glowingly about her co-star in an interview with the Associated Press.

"Ray Burr and I have worked together so much that we can actually speak a kind of shorthand. I'm a little shy about speaking up when something doesn't seem right in a scene, and I have a nervous habit of clearing my throat when that happens. Ray invariably looks up and asks what is wrong. The next time we do the scene, the matter is corrected, and we go right on with our work."

There was, however, one thing that threatened the believability the two long-term coworkers tried so hard to uphold. After all, ego constantly threatens to undermine even the best acting work. One might expect tensions to show after Burr and Hale worked together for so long.

"The only thing that worries me," said Hale, "is that we have had no fights. We've never even had a disagreement. People can't believe that, but it's true."

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Andybandit 1 month ago
I liked BH on PM. I thought she and RB had chemistry.
teire 1 month ago
Like Della, Barbara Hale was a sweetheart.
Runeshaper 1 month ago
Not fighting doesn't sound like a bad "worry" to
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