Synopses & Reviews
The complete story of the actor's career, including his secret gay life. Raymond Burr (1917-1993) was an enigma. A film noir star regularly known for his villainous roles in movies like Rear Window, he delighted millions of viewers each week with the top-rated shows Perry Mason and Ironside, which ran virtually uninterrupted for 20 years. But Burr was leading a secret gay life at a time in Hollywood when such a lifestyle was akin to career suicide. He invented a tragic biography for himself in which he was mythologized as a heartbroken husband and father. There was even an invented affair with a teenage Natalie Wood, 21 years his junior. He fought for truth as Perry Mason and Robert T. Ironside, yet he couldn't admit his own deception. Burr met his partner, struggling actor Robert Benevides, on the set of Perry Mason, and they remained together for over 35 years until Burr's death. Together, they built a business empire, traveled the world, and shared their passion for orchids and fine wine - keeping the true nature of their relationship a secret from all but their closest friends - a secret revealed here for the first time in depth.
"Starr's lackluster biography doesn't do justice to the complex man who transformed himself from B-movie thug to television's beloved attorney, Perry Mason. Born in British Columbia in 1917, Burr moved to California as a child, where he took his first stab at acting in a local theater group. Moving back and forth between bit parts in California and on Broadway, Burr finally signed a contract with RKO, despite his fictional rsum that claimed he spent time on the London stage. His deep baritone and imposing frame made him the perfect heavy in a string of RKO thrillers. But it was his role as Perry Mason on TV that made Burr a household name. Running from 1957 to 1966, the CBS courtroom drama featured Mason eliciting confessions on the witness stand and never losing a case to his arch nemesis, DA Hamilton Burger. Burr's private life, most notably his long-term relationship with Robert Benevides, was kept quiet, primarily through the dead spouses Burr invented along the way. Working steadily until his death in 1993 from cancer, Burr remained a television icon, following up the success of Mason with Ironside, where he played a paraplegic cop. Starr, who has biographies of Joey Bishop and Bobby Darin, does little to illuminate the actor or the man, and sidesteps a much-needed exploration of homosexuality in Burr's Hollywood." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Raymond Burr was an enigma--a film noir regularly known for his villainous roles in movies, who eventually became one of the most popular stars in television history. But Burr was leading a secret gay life at a time in Hollywood when such a lifestyle was akin to career suicide.