After 9 successful seasons and an Emmy win, Barbara Hale considered retirement, wanting to raise her three young children. Fate had other plans. A producer approached Hale to star in a new Perry Mason production – a series of hour-long movies made for television.
Hale found that she wasn’t able to let go of Della Street just yet. The actress starred in the TV movies for over a decade, appearing in 30 of them. She continued acting even after Raymond Burr’s death in 1993.
Della Street — More Than Just a Loyal Secretary
All great characters need someone to make them whole — Troy and Abed, Batman and Robin, Lorelai and Rory, Steve and Dustin. Iconic pairings give life to shows, defining pop culture history and influences for generations to come. Perry Mason may seem like he doesn’t need anyone, but the show wouldn’t be the same without the inimitable Della Street (Barbara Hale).
She’s his extra set of eyes and ears. Mason values her opinion and judgment of people’s character. Hale was an exceptional actor in her own right and one of the reasons for the show’s success.
Barbara Hale Stumbled Into Her Career
Barbara Hale as Della Street may have played a supporting role on the show, but her presence made all the difference. Viewers loved Della Street as much as they loved Perry. Hale was effortless on the show.
To think that the actress had never considered a showbiz career seems inconceivable now! Hale was standing on a street corner when a couple walked up to her with a flyer for modeling. A few months after her modeling gig, the couple sent her photo to a Hollywood executive. Two weeks later, she officially signed with KPO pictures.
Why Perry Always Addressed Lt. Tragg Formally
Fans of the show will have noticed that Perry Mason was never on a first-name basis with Lt. Tragg. It was always “Lieutenant Tragg” and never Arthur. Mason used a more familiar term of address with other law enforcement officials – specifically Lt. Drumm and Lt. Anderson. A likely explanation for this could stem from the actors' relationship off-screen.
Ray Collins, who played Lt. Tragg, was twenty-eight years senior to Raymond Burr. Perry (or Burr) using “lieutenant” to address Tragg was a mark of respect.
Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed
In "The Case of the Barefaced Witness," the address on Fred Swan’s car registration is 1040 N. Las Palmas Avenue. The location means little to the unversed, but fans know there’s more to it than meets the eye.
This seemingly insignificant detail is the address of the General Service Studios in Hollywood – one of the filming locations for the show. The visual clues in a show speak to its greatness!