Died: January 26, 2017 (at age 94)
Birthplace: DeKalb, Illinois, U.S.
Barbara Hale (April 18, 1922 - January 26, 2017) was an American actress best known for her role as legal secretary Della Street on more than 270 episodes of the Perry Mason television series from 1957 to 1966, earning her a 1959 Emmy Award as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. She reprised the role in 30 Perry Mason movies for television. Her film roles included The Window (1949), in which she starred as the mother of a boy who witnesses a murder.
Barbara Hale was born in DeKalb, Illinois, a daughter of Wilma (née Colvin) and Luther Ezra Hale, a landscape gardener. She had one sister, Juanita, for whom Hale's younger daughter was named. The family was of Scots-Irish ancestry. In 1940, Hale graduated from Rockford High School in Rockford, Illinois, then attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, planning to be an artist. Her performing career began in Chicago, when she started modeling to pay for her education.
Hale moved to Hollywood in 1943, and made her first screen appearances playing small parts (often uncredited). Her first role was in Gildersleeve's Bad Day. She was under contract to RKO Radio Pictures through the late 1940s. She appeared in Higher and Higher (1943) with Frank Sinatra and sang with the crooner; played leading lady to Robert Mitchum in West of the Pecos (1945); enjoyed top billing in both Lady Luck (1946) opposite Robert Young, her first "full stardom" and "her fifth A picture", and The Window (1949) with Arthur Kennedy, and co-starred in Jolson Sings Again (1949), with Larry Parks playing Al Jolson and Hale as Jolson's wife, Ellen Clark.
She played the top-billed title role in Lorna Doone (1951), co-starred with James Stewart in The Jackpot (1951), with James Cagney in A Lion Is in the Streets (1953) and opposite Rock Hudson in Seminole (1953). She appeared in 1955's The Far Horizons with Fred MacMurray and Charlton Heston.
Hale's last leading role in motion pictures was with Joel McCrea as co-star in the 1957 western The Oklahoman. However, she did have a featured role in the 1970 ensemble film Airport, playing the wife of a jetliner pilot (Dean Martin). Her final film appearances were in The Giant Spider Invasion (1975) and Big Wednesday (1978).
Hale was considering retirement from acting when she accepted her best known role as legal secretary Della Street in the television series Perry Mason starring Raymond Burr as the titular character. The show ran from 1957 to 1966, and she reprised the role in 30 Perry Mason television films (1985-95).
Hale's career became inextricably linked with that of Perry Mason co-star Burr, including her 1971 guest-starring role on his next series, Ironside, in an episode titled "Murder Impromptu," followed by their 1980s and early '90s TV movies together.
Her last onscreen appearance was a TV biographical documentary about Burr that aired in 2000.
Hale's activity in radio was more limited. She appeared in five episodes of Family Theater (1950-1954) and in one episode each of Lux Radio Theatre (1950), Voice of the Army (1947), and Proudly We Hail (syndicated).
Hale also is remembered as a spokesperson for Amana, makers of Radarange microwave ovens, memorably intoning, "If it doesn't say Amana, it's not a Radarange."
In 1945 during the filming of West of the Pecos, Hale met actor Bill Williams (birth name Herman August Wilhelm Katt). They married June 22, 1946, and were the parents of two daughters, Jodi and Juanita, and a son, actor William Katt. Williams guested on 4 episodes of Perry Mason in the 1960s.
Katt played detective Paul Drake, Jr., with Hale in several of the made-for-television Perry Mason movies. Hale guest-starred on Katt's series, The Greatest American Hero in which Katt played the title role, aka Ralph Hinkley; Hale played Hinkley's mother in the 1982 episode, Episode 29, "Who's Woo in America". She also played his mother in the 1978 movie Big Wednesday.
Bill Williams died of cancer in 1992, after 46 years of marriage. Hale, a bladder cancer survivor, became a follower of the Bahá'í Faith.
Barbara Hale died at her home in Sherman Oaks, California, on January 26, 2017, of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She was 94 years old. She is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills) next to her husband.
Hale was recognized as a Star of Television (with a marker at 1628 Vine Street) on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960. She won the Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Continuing Character) in a Dramatic Series in 1959 and was nominated for the Emmy for Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor or Actress in a Series in 1961.
She was presented one of the Golden Boot Awards in 2001 for her contributions to western cinema.
|1943||Gildersleeve's Bad Day||Girl at Party Getting Peavey to Donate||Uncredited|
|Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event||Girl at Airport||Uncredited|
|The Seventh Victim||Subway Passenger||Uncredited|
|The Iron Major||Sarah Cavanaugh||Uncredited|
|Gildersleeve on Broadway||Stocking Salesgirl||Uncredited|
|Government Girl||Girl in Hotel Lobby||Uncredited|
|Around the World||Barbara Hale||Uncredited|
|Higher and Higher||Katherine Keating|
|1944||Prunes and Politics||Short film|
|The Falcon Out West||Marion Colby|
|Goin' To Town||Patty|
|The Falcon in Hollywood||Peggy Callahan|
|1945||West of the Pecos||Rill Lambeth|
|First Yank into Tokyo||Abby Drake|
|1946||Lady Luck||Mary Audrey|
|1947||A Likely Story||Vickie North|
|1948||The Boy with Green Hair||Miss Brand|
|1949||The Clay Pigeon||Martha Gregory|
|The Window||Mrs. Mary Woodry|
|Jolson Sings Again||Ellen Clark|
|And Baby Makes Three||Jacqueline 'Jackie' Walsh|
|1950||The Jackpot||Amy Lawrence|
|Emergency Wedding||Dr. Helen Hunt|
|1951||Lorna Doone||Lorna Doone|
|1952||The First Time||Betsey Bennet|
|Castle in the Air||Barbara Hale||Uncredited|
|1953||Last of the Comanches||Julia Lanning|
|The Lone Hand||Sarah Jane Skaggs|
|A Lion Is in the Streets||Verity Wade|
|The Far Horizons||Julia Hancock|
|1956||The Houston Story||Zoe Crane|
|7th Cavalry||Martha Kellogg|
|1957||The Oklahoman||Anne Barnes|
|Slim Carter||Allie Hanneman|
|1958||Desert Hell||Celie Edwards|
|The Red, White and Black||Mrs. Alice Grierson|
|1975||The Giant Spider Invasion||Dr. Jenny Langer|
|1978||Big Wednesday||Mrs. Barlow|
|1952-56||The Ford Television Theatre||Marta Linden, Nora White||Episodes: "The Divided Heart", "Remember to Live", "Behind the Mask"|
|1953||Footlights Theater||Katherine Charles||Episode: "Change of Heart"|
|1953-55||Schlitz Playhouse of Stars||Episodes: "Vacation for Ginny", "Tourists-Overnight"|
|1955||Studio 57||Ruth||Episode: "Young Couples Only"|
|General Electric Theater||Ellen Newman||Episode: "The Windmill"|
|Screen Director's Playhouse||June Waters||Episode: "Meet the Governor"|
|Celebrity Playhouse||Episode: "He Knew All About Women"|
|Climax!||Mamie Eunson||Episode: "The Day They Gave Babies Away"|
|Science Fiction Theatre||Nancy Stanton, Pat Hastings||Episodes: "Conversations With an Ape", "The Hastings Secret"|
|1956||The Loretta Young Show||Bill's Wife||Episode: "The Challenge"|
|Damon Runyon Theater||Wendy Longfield||Episode: "The Good Luck Kid"|
|Crossroads||Jane Sherman||Episode: "Lifeline"|
|The Millionaire||Kathy Munson and Marian Munson||Episode: "The Kathy Munson Story"|
|1956-57||Playhouse 90||Mrs. Julia Wiley, Ann Barnes, Allie Hanneman||Episodes: "The Country Husband", "The Blackwell Story"|
|1957-66||Perry Mason||Della Street||Credited in all 271 episodes|
|1959||General Electric Theater||Lorraine||Episode: "Night Club"|
|1963||Stump the Stars||Herself||2 episodes|
|1967||Custer||Melinda Terry||Episode: "Death Hunt"|
|1969||Insight||Mom||Episode: "A Thousand Red Flowers"|
|Lassie||Sarah Caldwell||Episode: "Lassie and the Water Bottles"|
|1970||The Most Deadly Game||Episode: "Model for Murder"|
|1971||Ironside||Marsha Connell||Episode: "Murder Impromptu"|
|Adam-12||Bonnie Jessup||Episode: "Pick-up"; Hale's husband Bill Williams also appears|
|1972||The Doris Day Show||Thelma King||Episode: "Doris' House Guest"|
|1973-78||Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color||Mrs. Belle Kincaid, Mrs. Hanson, Mrs. Ogle, Mrs. Barlow||Episodes: "Chester, Yesterday's Horse", "Flight of the Grey Wolf, Parts 1 and 2", "The Young Runaways", "Big Wednesday"|
|1974||Marcus Welby, M.D.||Marjorie||Episode: "The Faith of Childish Things"|
|1982||The Greatest American Hero||Paula Hinkley||Episode: "Who's Woo in America"|
|1985||Perry Mason Returns||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|1986||The Case of the Notorious Nun||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Shooting Star||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|1987||The Case of the Lost Love||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Sinister Spirit||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Murdered Madam||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Scandalous Scoundrel||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|1988||The Case of the Avenging Ace||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Lady in the Lake||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|1989||The Case of the Lethal Lesson||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Musical Murder||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the All-Star Assassin||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|1990||The Case of the Poisoned Pen||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Desperate Deception||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Silenced Singer||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Defiant Daughter||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|1991||The Case of the Ruthless Reporter||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Maligned Mobster||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Glass Coffin||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Fatal Fashion||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|1992||The Case of the Fatal Framing||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Reckless Romeo||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Heartbroken Bride||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|1993||The Case of the Skin-Deep Scandal||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Killer Kiss||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Wicked Wives||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Defense Rests: A Tribute to Raymond Burr||Herself|
|1994||The Case of the Lethal Lifestyle||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|The Case of the Grimacing Governor||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|1995||The Case of the Jealous Jokester||Della Street||Perry Mason TV movie|
|2000||Biography||Herself||Episode: "Raymond Burr, The Case of the TV Legend"|