Barbara Hale

Barbara Hale

Born: April 18, 1922
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.[1] [2] The family was of Scots-Irish ancestry.[3] In 1940, Hale graduated[1] from Rockford High School[4] 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.[5]

Acting career

Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale in the CBS-TV series, Perry Mason (1958)William Hopper, Barbara Hale and Frank Sully in Perry Mason (1958)


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.[5] 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;[6] 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",[5][4] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[7] 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).[8]


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."[9]

Private life and death

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,[10] and were the parents of two daughters, Jodi and Juanita, and a son, actor William Katt. Williams made guest appearances on four episodes of Perry Mason in the 1960s.[11]

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.[12]

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.[7][13] 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.[14] 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.[15]

She was presented one of the Golden Boot Awards in 2001 for her contributions to western cinema.[16]


Year Title Role Notes
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
Heavenly Days Angie
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
Seminole Revere
The Lone Hand Sarah Jane Skaggs
A Lion Is in the Streets Verity Wade
1955 Unchained Mary Davitt
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
1968 Buckskin Sarah Cody
1970 Airport Sarah Demerest
The Red, White and Black Mrs. Alice Grierson
1975 The Giant Spider Invasion Dr. Jenny Langer
1978 Big Wednesday Mrs. Barlow
Year Title Role Notes
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"
1960 Here's Hollywood Herself
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"
1976 Dinah! Herself
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"

[ Source: Wikipedia ]