Barbara Hale was a celebrity among legal secretaries thanks to Perry Mason

Real legal secretaries across the country invited Barbara Hale to legal meetings, and she occasionally showed up.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

Barbara Hale was everyone's favorite legal secretary in the hit '60s series Perry Mason. Hale was so convincing in her role as Della Street that real legal secretaries nationwide would send fan mail, inviting the star to legal meetings.

Hale even attended some of them. She is the best legal secretary in the country, anyway.

Hale played the role of Della Street for a total of 271 episodes. What made Hale's role so unique was that it was uncommon for an actress in the '60s to become a celebrity in a legal profession, but Hale was just that good.

"Not long ago, I drove to a meeting of the National Association of Legal Secretaries in Monterey, California," Hale said in a 1961 interview with Hartford Courant. "The gals told me the thing they liked best about me on the show is that I don't say much... yet I'm always around when needed."

"They also criticized me a little," she added. "They kidded me for sitting at the counsel table in court because it's not legal."

According to the interview, Hale had a lot of personal admiration for Burr. 

"He's a knight-on-a-white-horse type," Hale said. "Women of all ages that I've met seem affected by him that way. I have a constant flood of mail from girls to old women who always ask me about him. You know, 'women to women.' They want to know what it's like working for him."

Hale said she loved working with Burr, and that could be seen by their bond on and off screen. She said: "From a strictly professional viewpoint, I think he has fantastic sex appeal, too."

During her time on Perry Mason, Hale attended many meetings of legal secretaries in Los Angeles and San Diego. She was convinced of her success as Della Street when her son, who was seven at the time of this interview, was asked what his mom did for work.

According to the interview, he replied: "Mom's a secretary."

"That's when I knew I had arrived," Hale said. 

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MeFanFromSavan 15 months ago
"Della Street" was gorgeous. She was consistently more attractive than all other female clients, victims, and femme fatales on that series.
JHP MeFanFromSavan 14 months ago
you are spot on - Barbara Hale? Hale yes! perfectly beautiful
Annisette 15 months ago
I'm a big fan of Perry Mason. I was in high school at the time Perry Mason aired. It was a time when you really didn't know what you wanted to do in life. Well, Mason is the reason I got into the legal profession and become a Legal Secretary. I have forever been very grateful for the influence Perry Mason and Della Street had on me!!
KJExpress Annisette 15 months ago
How cool. Thanks for sharing!
JHP Annisette 14 months ago
I think those movies are on the CUT CUT Sundunce channel
George58 15 months ago
Great article. Now bring back the Perry Mason TV Movies on Sunday nights. All In The Family show sucks! How anyone can find that annoying voice of Jean Stapleton as entertainment is beyond me. Just my opinion.
DeniseMarie George58 15 months ago
I second the motion! I used to look forward to those movies. I used to tell my dad he reminded me of Archie Bunker. It wasn't a compliment lol.
cperrynaples DeniseMarie 15 months ago
"Was youse the meathead?"...LOL!
cperrynaples DeniseMarie 15 months ago
Sorry, I should have read the name! You were probaly the "little goil"...LOL!
wallyrahn George58 15 months ago
Totally agree! I turn off ME, which is usually on all the time, from 8-10 on Sunday. Bring back Perry! He made Sunday evenings worthwhile!
Hilary 15 months ago
Another great Perry Mason story about his favorite secretary , Della Street played by the beautiful and classy Barbara Hale. I can see how her devotion to the role lead her to secretarial conferences and speaking engagements. While the series tried not to promote a relationship between Perry and Della, their personal chemistry kept us seeing a their close bond. In fact, it was Raymond Burr who I wanted Barbara Hale at the defense table even though the legal profession had disdain.
Muleskinner 15 months ago
My favorite character on MeTV: Della Street
teire 15 months ago
Nice story with a sweet anecdote at the end. Big Della fan.
Runeshaper 15 months ago
Outstanding article! Thanks for sharing, MeTV! (-:
cperrynaples 15 months ago
Once again, I must point out that Hale didn't do 271 episodes, she only did 260! Most of those came from an extended break where Gertie the receptionist took over her duties! Also, there was the episode where Perry had a trial in Germany! However, she aided all the guest lawyers, which included Bette Davis & Mike Conners!
Pacificsun cperrynaples 15 months ago
Since you're a fan of minutia, during the series how many, or did RB, wear different pinky rings?
MrsPhilHarris 15 months ago
Love Della Street!
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KJExpress MrsPhilHarris 15 months ago
I did get a kick out of the episode where Perry and Della borrowed a baby and pretended to be a couple looking for a babysitter. It was all "Dear" and "Darling." Cute.
MrsPhilHarris KJExpress 15 months ago
I remember that! Della got a headache. 😁
KJExpress MrsPhilHarris 15 months ago
Oh, yes! I had forgotten that! 😄
MrsPhilHarris KJExpress 15 months ago
It came on suddenly.
LoveMETV22 15 months ago
[image= 2023-03-16 at 18-05-32]
cperrynaples 15 months ago
I assume the son was William Katt, star of The Greatest American Hero and future son of Paul Drake!
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