Raymond Burr is a Actor Canadien born on 21 may 1917 at New Westminster (Canada)
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Birth name Raymond William Stacey BurrNationality CanadaBirth 21 may 1917
at New Westminster (Canada
)Death 12 september 1993
(at 76 years) at Sonoma (USA
Raymond William Stacey Burr (May 21, 1917 – September 12, 1993) was a Canadian-American actor, primarily known for his title roles in the television dramas Perry Mason and Ironside. He was prominently involved in multiple charitable endeavors, such as working on behalf of the United Service Organizations.
Burr's early acting career included roles on Broadway, radio, television and in film, usually as the villain.
His portrayal of the suspected murderer in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Rear Window (1954), is regarded as his best-known film role. He won two Emmy Awards, in 1959 and 1961, for the role of Perry Mason, which he played for nine seasons between 1957 and 1966. His second hit TV series, Ironside, earned him six Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations.
After Burr's death from cancer in 1993, his personal life came into question, as details of his known biography appeared to be unverifiable.
In 1996, Burr was listed as one of the 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time by TV Guide. A 2014 study found that Burr was rated as the favorite actor by Netflix users, with the greatest number of dedicated microgenres.
Burr married actress Isabella ("Bella") Ward on January 10, 1948. They lived together for less than a year, and divorced after four years. Neither remarried. In the mid-1950s, Burr met Robert Benevides (born February 9, 1930, in Visalia, California) a young actor and Korean War veteran, on the set of Perry Mason. According to Benevides, they became a couple around 1960. Benevides gave up acting in 1963 and later became a production consultant for 21 of the Perry Mason TV movies. Together they owned and operated an orchid business and then a vineyard, in the Dry Creek Valley. They were partners until Burr's death in 1993. Burr left Benevides his entire estate, including "all my jewelry, clothing, books, works of art ... and other items of a personal nature." Benevides subsequently renamed the Dry Creek property Raymond Burr Vineyards (reportedly against Burr's wishes) and continues to own and manage it as a commercial enterprise.
At various times in his career, Burr and his managers offered spurious or unverifiable biographical details to the press and public. These included a 1940 marriage to a Scottish actress named Annette Sutherland—killed, Burr said, in the same plane crash that claimed the life of Leslie Howard. (Multiple sources, including Burr's biographer, have reported that no one by that name appears on any of the published passenger manifests from the flight.) Another undocumented marriage in 1953 to Laura Andrina Morgan—who died of cancer, Burr said, in 1955—produced a son, Michael Evan, who purportedly died at age ten of leukemia. (No evidence exists of the marriage, nor of a son's birth, other than Burr's own claims.) As late as 1991, Burr stood by the account of his son's life and death; he told Parade magazine that when he realized Michael was dying, he took him on a one-year tour of the United States. "Before my boy left, before his time was gone," he said, "I wanted him to see the beauty of his country and its people." According to his publicist, Burr worked in Hollywood throughout the year that he was supposedly touring with his son. Burr's stories about his World War II service in the Marine Corps, including battle injuries in Okinawa, were similarly unverified.
In the late 1950s, Burr was rumored to be romantically involved with Natalie Wood. Wood's agent sent her on public dates so she could be noticed by directors and producers and so the men she dated could present themselves in public as heterosexuals. The dates also helped to disguise Wood's intimate relationship with Robert Wagner, whom she later married. Burr felt enough attraction to Wood to resent Warner Bros.' decision to promote her attachment to Tab Hunter, instead. Robert Benevides later said: "He was a little bitter about it. He was really in love with her, I guess."
Later accounts of Burr's life explain that he hid his homosexuality to protect his career. In 2000, AP reporter Bob Thomas recalled the situation:
It was an open secret...that he was gay. He had a companion who was with him all the time. That was a time in Hollywood history when homosexuality was not countenanced. Ray was not a romantic star by any means, but he was a very popular figure...if it was revealed at that time in Hollywood history [that he was gay] it would have been very difficult for him to continue.
Art Marks, a producer of Perry Mason, recalled Burr's talk of wives and children: "I know he was just putting on a show....That was my gut feeling. I think the wives and the loving women, the Natalie Wood thing, were a bit of a cover." In 2006, Dean Hargrove, who worked on Perry Mason Returns, said: "I had always assumed that Raymond was gay, because he had a relationship with Robert Benevides for a very long time. Whether or not he had relationships with women, I had no idea. I did know that I had trouble keeping track of whether he was married or not in these stories. Raymond had the ability to mythologize himself, to some extent, and some of his stories about his past...tended to grow as time went by."
A 2007 memoir by actor Paul Picerni described several experiences with Burr on the set of Mara Maru, when he felt Burr expressed sexual interest in him. He wrote, "I saw him staring at me. With his big blue eyes. And with this strange expression on his face. For the first time in my life, I felt like a dame. Then it hit me: He'd been giving me all this bullshit about his wife and his two kids in London, when in fact he was gay, and he was makin' a move on me!" He remembered Burr "was a great guy and very subtle in his homosexuality."
Burr had many hobbies over the course of his life: cultivating orchids and collecting wine, art, stamps, and seashells. He was very fond of cooking. As a dedicated seashell collector, his financial support and gift of cowries and cones from Fiji helped to create the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum in Sanibel, Florida. He was also interested in flying, sailing, and fishing. According to A&E Biography, Burr was an avid reader with a retentive memory. He was also among the earliest importers and breeders of Portuguese Water Dogs in the United States.
He developed his interest in cultivating and hybridizing orchids into a business with Benevides. Over 20 years, their company, Sea God Nurseries, had nurseries in Fiji, Hawaii, the Azores, and California, and was responsible for adding more than 1,500 new orchids to the worldwide catalog. Burr named one of them the "Barbara Hale Orchid" after his Perry Mason costar. Burr and Benevides cultivated Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Port grapes, as well as orchids, at Burr's farmland holdings in Sonoma County, California.
In 1965, Burr purchased the Naitauba, a 4,000-acre (16 km) island in Fiji, rich in seashells. There, he and Benevides oversaw the raising of copra (coconut meat) and cattle, as well as orchids. Burr planned to retire there permanently. However, medical problems made that impossible and he sold the property in 1983.
Burr was a well-known philanthropist. He gave enormous sums of money, including his salaries from the Perry Mason movies, to charity. He was also known for sharing his wealth with friends. He sponsored 26 foster children through the Foster Parents' Plan or Save The Children, many with the greatest medical needs. He also gave money and some of his Perry Mason scripts to the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California.
Burr raised money for the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum in Sanibel, Florida, and also donated a considerable collection of Fijian cowries and cones from his island in the Fijis. In 1993, Sonoma State University awarded Burr an honorary doctorate. He supported medical and education institutions in Denver, and in 1993, the University of Colorado awarded him an honorary doctorate for his acting work. Burr also founded and financed the American Fijian Foundation that funded academic research, including efforts to develop a dictionary of the language.
Burr made repeated trips on behalf of the United Service Organizations (USO). He toured both Korea and Vietnam during wartime and once spent six months touring Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. He sometimes organized his own troupe and toured bases both in the U.S. and overseas, often small installations that the USO did not serve, like one tour of Greenland, Baffinland, Newfoundland and Labrador. Returning from Vietnam in 1965, he made a speaking tour of the U.S. to advocate an intensified war effort. As the war became more controversial, he modified his tone, called for more attention to the sacrifice of the troops, and said, "My only position on the war is that I wish it were over." In October 1967, NBC aired Raymond Burr Visits Vietnam, a documentary of one of his visits that received mixed reviews, ranging from "The impressions he came up with are neither weighty nor particularly revealing" (Chicago Tribune) to "His questions...were intelligent and elicited some interesting replies." (Los Angeles Times).
Burr had a reputation in Hollywood as a thoughtful, generous man years before much of his more-visible philanthropic work. In 1960, Ray Collins, who portrayed Lt. Arthur Tragg on the original Perry Mason series, and who was by that time often ill and unable to remember all the lines he was supposed to speak, stated, "There is nothing but kindness from our star, Ray Burr. Part of his life is dedicated to us, and that's no bull. If there's anything the matter with any of us, he comes around before anyone else and does what he can to help. He's a great star—in the old tradition.