Here's how Raymond Burr felt about a potential romance between Perry and Della Street on ''Perry Mason''

Raymond Burr wasn't just the smartest man in the courtroom; he was also the smartest man on set.

CBS Television Distribution

Look, we love romance just as much as the next disembodied website. But with so many television shows filled to the brim with love affairs, we seem to have seriously underestimated the power of a good old-fashioned platonic friendship. Romantic attachment can make everything so complicated, not to mention it's vastly overused in today's media, to the point of oversaturation. The fact of the matter is that two people who are lifelong friends with one another can love and respect each other just as much as any romantic couple can. 

Take, for example, Della Street and Perry Mason of the series Perry Mason. Though first coworkers, the two share an incredibly amiable and supportive friendship that ultimately enriches both of their lives. At times it seems that Della acts as Perry's head when he isn't thinking straight; he, in turn, serves as her advocate. 

Dean Hargrove, who served as producer on several of the Perry Mason films, said that Raymond Burr, who played Mason, acted as the character's "guide in terms of behavior" during an interview with Knight-Ridder. Because Burr understood the role down to such a granular level, it was often he that the writers would seek to ensure that certain plot points were in line with the character. 

Hargrove said that there was one point upon which Burr became immovable. He stated, "There was a caveat that there was to be not only no romance (between Perry and Della) but (also) no physical contact between the two."

It is perhaps strange that Burr served as Perry Mason's caretaker, especially considering that originally, he wasn't even close to winning the role when the show began casting.

According to an interview in Leicester Mercury with Gail Patrick Johnson, who helped bring Perry Mason to life on CBS, Burr was originally called in to audition for the role of Hamilton Burger. Johnson explained, "We decided to humor him until he could see for himself how right he  was for the role of Hamilton Burger." 

However, even then, Burr knew best and insisted he also try out for the role of Mason.

Johnson said, "Little did we know how wrong we were going to be proved."

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48 Comments

BorisK 1 month ago
Truth be told, Raymond was actually pushing for an on screen romance with Cesar Romero or Desi Arnaz.
JHP 1 month ago
For me - It's at least one Perry Mason every night - LOVE thee show
JHP 1 month ago
well Barbara Hale? HALE YES! :)
CarolCoons 1 month ago
Actually it was ESG who stipulated there was to be no romance between the principals. However the actors themselves injected a lot of body language that indicated otherwise, especially in the early seasons. It’s interesting how the TV show actually influenced the later books.
MaryMitch CarolCoons 1 month ago
I think they made the characters fond of each other in a platonic way; they respected each other.
Lacey 1 month ago
Raymond Burr also tested for the Paul Drake character and William Hopper screen tested for the part of Perry. You can see this on YouTube and it is hilarious. You can see immediately why that would not have worked.
As for Barbra Hale, she was the first (or almost the first) professional woman on TV who was only shown doing her job and not looking for a man in her life.
MC1707 1 month ago
I always thought that Paul Drake and Della would/should have had more of a relationship. They seemed close in character age and made a better looking couple. Would have liked to seen that happen.
JJ614 MC1707 1 month ago
And his ALWAYS greeting, "Hello, Beautiful!" I agree.
ncadams27 JJ614 1 month ago
Who was the mother of Paul Drake Jr, who appeared in the Perry Mason movies?
JHP ncadams27 1 month ago
Hedda Hopper?
Tennant73 ncadams27 1 month ago
In real life, the mother of the actor who played Paul Drake, Jr was none other than Barbara Hale.
Svenfish 1 month ago
Gunsmoke was the same way with Matt and Kitty, no romance just good friends
MC1707 Svenfish 1 month ago
It’s always been underlying that they were a couple..
CarolCoons Svenfish 1 month ago
Yeah, like the two of them walking downstairs together from her rooms, totally platonic, uh huh.
RedBird01 1 month ago
I appreciate the respect Perry had for Della. I remember one episode when he came into the office and immediately began talking to Paul as he and Paul hurriedly exited the office. Perry then poked his head back through the door saying. "Good Morning, Della." If Perry and Della had been romantically involved, the first TV movie would not have worked when Perry resigned his judgeship to defend Della for murder. The two were perfectly reunited again.
cinamac RedBird01 1 month ago
I never saw Perry Mason Returns, but I was surprised to learn that Della no longer worked for Perry, as the quintessential confidential secretary! When and why would she have left Mason’s employ? Even as a Judge, he’d need a good administrative assistant!
cinamac 1 month ago
I find it unfortunate that, other than the bon vivant, Paul Drake, poor Perry and Della seem to have no lives outside of the office and the courtroom…and they were both terribly good looking people! But it’s really sad that it took Perry 36 years to finally kiss Della!
Justme2022 1 month ago
Rather than Gail Patrick Johnson, wasn't it Gail Patrick Jackson?
JJ614 1 month ago
I guess Burr kept that idea - until the final PM movie, when we see revealed something very different between the two of them, including a real kiss. NOT on the cheek.
But I never believed they were platonic from the time on the cruise ship they drank and danced all night together.
cinamac JJ614 1 month ago
I wouldn’t have been able to resist Perry Mason!😍
mpatrick cinamac 1 month ago
And I couldn't have resisted Della Street!
BorisK cinamac 1 month ago
Ummmm .... well, Burr didn't prefer the ladies.
cinamac BorisK 1 month ago
Well, Raymond Burr might have been gay, but Perry Mason wasn’t!!!😅😂🤣
George58 1 month ago
I loved the show just as it was. I do recall on the one Perry Mason TV Movie where they are standing outside on the steps at the end of the movie & Della gives Perry a kiss on the cheek.
GregV 1 month ago
In the early 1930s films, Perry and Della are really romantic, and even get married !
MTEVENS GregV 1 month ago
And Erle Stanley Gardner hated it.
KJExpress 1 month ago
In the early Perry Mason novels they share a kiss or two and Perry proposes a couple of times. But I like the way it worked out on TV. Nowadays, I imagine it might be portrayed differently.
MrsPhilHarris KJExpress 1 month ago
It seems to me they never really go together in the later novels, but I think the did in an old PM movie.
KJExpress MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
I don't remember a lot of romance after the first batch of books either. I never saw any of the early movies. I an so used to RB as Perry Mason it would probably seem funny to me to see someone else in that role.
CaptainDunsel KJExpress 1 month ago
I wouldn't be surprised if writers today hooked Perry up with Paul and Della with Gertie.
MrsPhilHarris KJExpress 1 month ago
I agree. The movies are a bit odd. When I would watch one I would be thinking of the Perry, Paul and Della of the tv show.
KJExpress 1 month ago
In the early Perry Mason novels they share a kiss or two and Perry proposes a couple of times. But I like the way it worked out on TV. Nowadays, I imagine it might be portrayed differently.
cinamac KJExpress 1 month ago
There’s a lot of fan fiction that has Perry and Della married and raising a family!
Wiseguy70005 cinamac 1 month ago
Fan fiction Is irrelevant and by definition amateurish.
JJ614 Wiseguy70005 1 month ago
Chris Pine is known to have taken a fan fiction writing class at Berkley. His fellow students say his writings were ....fine. He has a degree in English lit and had originally planned on being a teacher, also studying at Leeds. He's known for his voracious reading of heavy literature.
JJ614 Wiseguy70005 1 month ago
I think Bud on JAG would beg to differ. The first time I ever heard of fan fiction was Bud writing Star Trek fics while recovering from losing his leg. And sure, he's a fictional character - exactly as are Perry and Della. Throughout the PM returns movies are spattered hints of Perry and Della's non-platonic relationship, going so far as to show Della's pain at Perry having a child with another woman.
cinamac Wiseguy70005 1 month ago
I don’t subscribe to it…I was just pointing it out to illustrate that there are many Perry Mason fans who would’ve loved it if Perry and Della were romantically involved!
JJ614 cinamac 1 month ago
I don't either - I have no dog in the hunt. But it seems to me, Wiseguy painted quite a wide swath of arrogance over those who do - write and read it - without actually knowing. It's fine to say it's irrelevant to THAT Wise Guy. But unless he's a professional writer....taking it upon himself as the authority of what is amateurish is a bit - well, the definition of "assume" comes to mind. Because there are literally MILLIONS of fanfics written since the late 60s.
KJExpress JJ614 1 month ago
Interesting.
Morris_9_Lives 1 month ago
It is Gail Patrick Jackson....not Johnson.
Sway 1 month ago
Portrayal of a professional and personal friendship with mutual trust, respect, admiration, and humor. A joy to watch.
Runeshaper 1 month ago
Perry and Della’s relationship was solid, and I’m glad it stayed that way 😊
McGillahooala 1 month ago
Smart man. The ‘will they or won’t they’ suspense keeps viewers tuning in week after week. Put them together and some viewers move on.
JJ614 McGillahooala 1 month ago
Always. As Get Smart, I Dream of Jeanie, even the more modern Lois and Clark and Castle proved.
Wiseguy70005 JJ614 1 month ago
Get Smart and Jeannie were already sliding down the ratings. That's why the writers put the characters together in the first place. The series wouldn't have lasted for long anyway.
BorisK JJ614 1 month ago
Agree. Get Smart's best year was #2 then it started wavering a bit. But it was still a great show. Bernie Kopell and Edward Platt were two of my favorites. And Jack Cassidy did a hilarious guest appearance on GS as the tough spy posing as an interior decorator named 'Mr. Bob'. Couldn't get away with that today.
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