Raymond Burr rallied the cast of Perry Mason to put on a show to raise money for a local school
They rehearsed for the charity show between shooting their Perry Mason scenes.
Perry Mason was a no-nonsense criminal defense lawyer who stopped at nothing to prove his clients' innocence. While both Perry Mason and Raymond Burr had hearts of gold, Raymond Burr's was much more on display. Case in point: the Ramona School.
The 1994 book Raymond Burr: A Film, Radio and Television Biography by Ona L. Hill describes Burr's drive to improve his community. The Ramona School, a local school in Los Angeles, was in trouble. "During filming of a Perry Mason episode," the book says, "Raymond heard about the school needing money for repairs. He recruited the rest of the cast in order to do a play to raise funds."
Still juggling their shooting schedule, the cast found time to help out the school. "The cast rehearsed The Happiest Millionaire between filming their scenes. The play was put on for two nights, netting $17,000 for the group of nuns. The cast worked for free. The only money used was for the expenses of putting on the show."
The book doesn't give the year that this happened, but a 1962 issue of the Liverpool Echo mentions the show. If we adjust inflation from 1962, that means the cast raised around $175,000 for the school in today's money.
The Echo article notes that the nuns never forgot what Burr did for them and their school. "Faithfully every Saturday evening, the nuns have an early meal so that they will be free in time for the Perry Mason show on television."
Until — the unthinkable happened. A special drama presentation replaced Perry Mason! This was inexcusable to the nuns, who got together to address this grave injustice. "Normally the nuns are only allowed to make one telephone call a week," the article said, "but the Mother Superior decreed that an exception should be made on this special occasion. Two lines formed in front of the two coin-in-the-slot telephones in the school as each nun, her 15 cents clutched firmly in her hand, waited her turn to place a personal call to CBS Television and complain about the absence of Perry Mason."