Practical jokes were a Perry Mason love language

A cast that pranks together, stays together.

The Everett Collection

Behind some of the most successful television shows is a cast and crew who work well together, both on and off screen.

For example, the cast of M*A*S*H (1972) was known for being extremely tight-knit, which played a crucial role in the success of the show. Their friendship helped make M*A*S*H a hit, with 11 highly rated seasons spanning from 1972 to 1983.

Although viewers loved watching M*A*S*H for its strong camaraderie, it wasn't the only show featuring a cast full of friends. 

Perry Mason (1957) was a seemingly serious show on-screen, but when the cameras quit rolling, the cast was known for their deep bonds, light-heartedness and their many practical jokes and pranks.

One prank even had Raymond Burr whipping up some green Jell-O in preparation for the prank of a lifetime. 

According to a 1960 interview with The Los Angeles Times, Barbara Hale, who played the role of Della Street on the series, said she and Burr got along great ever since the moment they met.

"There's no comic relief in the show, but we play enough practical jokes on each other to make up for it," Hale said. "You might say there is never a serious moment, except on camera."

The series was known for being very demanding to work on, especially for leading star Raymond Burr. He risked his health and put his time on the line in order to play the role of Perry Mason. The role even landed him in the hospital at one point in time.

Despite the challenges, the cast turned to practical jokes and pranks to help the days go by a little better. Jokes became their love language, especially between Burr and Hale.

According to the interview, Hale said there was one major prank that started it all between the two.

"Well, one day I said I thought it would be nice if I could get a plant for my dressing room, and said something in front of Raymond kiddingly about not having enough time to get one," Hale began. 

The next day, Hale walked into her dressing room to find that the door was being blocked by something. It was almost impossible to open, no matter how hard she pushed the door.

"Ray had rented an entire nursery and both rooms were full to the brim with plants," Hale said. "There wasn't enough room to get in through a window."

The two stars had a very unserious back-and-forth banter, which helped them build their iconic on-screen chemistry. Part of the reason Perry Mason succeeded was because the cast found ways to have fun when the cameras quit rolling.

However, according to the interview, there was one prank that left Hale laughing for the rest of her life. Around Burr's birthday, Hale would get him a rose every day during the week and included a blank card.

"I didn't sign the cards, figuring he could use them himself later, but Ray knew who was bombarding him with roses," Hale said. "So, to get back at me for being so corny, he stayed up all night at home, cooking batches of green Jell-O. When I got to my dressing room, from the plumbing to the ash trays, was filled with the stuff."

Despite the mess, Hale said she couldn't have asked for a better relationship with her co-stars.

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4 Comments

Runeshaper 22 days ago
It's AWESOME that they shared such a special relationship offscreen.

P.S. I love this show!
cperrynaples 22 days ago
I think most of you read my post about the pencils in Barbara's dressing room! She told that story when she appeared on Ironside!
AgingDisgracefully 22 days ago
Also, I suspect Ray Collins was a "pull-my-finger" sort of guy.
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