RAYMOND BURR BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Born, Raymond William Stacey Burr on May 21st, 1917 in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada, Raymond Burr was primarily known for his roles on the television series Perry Mason and Ironside.
His father, William Johnston Burr was an Irish hardware salesman and his mother, Minerva was a concert pianist and music teacher. Burr spent the early part of his childhood living in China when his father was working as a trade agent. When his parents divorced he moved to Vallejo, California to live with his mother and younger siblings, Geraldine and James. For one year at the age of twelve, his mother sent him off to work in New Mexico as a ranch hand due to his mom being concerned he was socializing with a "bad" crowd in California. He was also an unusually large child and therefore, appeared a lot older than his true age so he was able to find work to help support his family.
He held odd jobs such as a Forest service fire guard, a property agent and a photograph assistant.
During his teenage years he also developed an interest in acting and made his stage debut with a Vancouver stock company.
Burr went to a military junior high school but dropped out and did not go on to high school. However, he did study at Long Beach Junior College and actually took some classes at the University of California.
Burr began his acting career like many others actors of that era, at the Pasadena Playhouse in 1937. Raymond was told that his weight would be a factor in getting roles on stage and on film, therefore, he put himself on a strict 750 calorie diet per day and took his weight down from 340 pounds to 210 pounds. His first Broadway role was in, "Crazy with the Heat" (1941) and was then a contract actor with RKO studio's mostly portraying the villain character.
Burr's career took off quite quickly and within a ten year period, he had already starred in over 60 films some of which included, "A Place in the Sun" (1951) starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters, "Rear Window" starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter and Wendell Corey, "Thunder Pass" with Dane Clark, Dorothy Patrick, Andy Devine and John Carradine and "Passion" co-starring Cornel Wilde and Yvonne De Carlo (all 1954).
In 1956 he landed a starring role on, "Fort Laramie" which was a western drama about life at old Fort Laramie during the 19th century. He starred in forty one episodes total and a year later his largest and most well known television role was offered to him.
It began in 1956, with his first audition to play the role of District Attorney, Hamilton Burger in the television series, "Perry Mason". The producers knew right away that he was perfect for the part.
For his character portrayal, Burr won two Emmy's in 1959 and again in 1961. From his highly gained popularity earned from this role he then moved from CBS to Universal Studios to take on another title role in the television series, "Ironside" (1967-1975). This role earned him an additional six Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations. Burr also was cast in, "Godzilla, King of the Monsters!" (1976-1977) another very well known role.
Burr also co starred in a number of television films such as, "Only the Pretty Girls Die" (1979), "The Curse of King Tut's Tomb" (1980) and "Peter and Paul" (1981).
In 1985 Burr was asked to not only do a new "Godzilla" film but also a made for television movie, "Perry Masson Returns" (1985). The movie was such a success that before he passed away, he actually completed 26 more Perry Masson made for television films.
In 1988, after three years and nine Perry Mason TV movies, Raymond Burr's costar, William Katt left the show to pursue other projects. Actor William R. Moses was hired to play Ken Malansky. Moses appeared in the Mason TV movies filmed between 1989 and 1995.
In 1993 Burr decided to do with Ironside what he had done with Perry Mason. He chose to do a Ironside reunion movie, "The Return of Ironside" (1993) which reunited the original cast of the 1967-1975 series. This was too be his last reunion with the original cast, sadly, while filming the movie, he became very ill and was told he had cancer that had spread to his liver. He passed away on September 12th, 1993 at his Sonoma County, California ranch at the age of seventy six.
Raymond Burr was interred with his parents at Fraser Cemetery, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. On October 1, 1993. He had an estate estimated to be worth $32 million which he left to his lifelong partner and friend, Robert Benevides.
Not only did Raymond Burr have a huge interest in acting, he pursued many other hobbies as well. He was an avid wine and art collector, and enjoyed cooking. He owned an orchid business and began growing a vineyard as well.
Burr also had a farmlands holding in Sonoma County where he cultivated Chardonnay, port grapes and Cabernet Sauvignon with his friend, Benevides, a fellow orchidist. Today the land is known as Raymond Burr Vineyards. He also had purchased 4000 acres on the island of Naitauba, Fiji back in 1965 and there he oversaw the raising of copra, also known as coconut meat and cattle. The two men had a company called, Sea God Nurseries and had nurseries in Fiji, Hawaii, the Azores and California. Raymond Burr was also among the earliest importers and breeders of Portuguese Water Dogs in the United States.
Raymond Burr won many awards during his lifetime and his various careers. Besides the Emmy's he won for Perry Masson and all the nominations received for Ironside, he was also awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Canada Post issued a postage stamp in 2008 in it's series featuring Burr and he was also the recipient of the 2009 Canadian Legends Award and received a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame in Toronto.
The Raymond Burr Performing Arts Centre in New Westminster, British Columbia, opened in October 2000. The Centre was commonly referred to as the "Burr Theatre," or simply as "the Burr." It is owned by the City of New Westminster, which placed it for sale on 15 June 2009.
His personal life was full of highs and lows. Burr first married quite young to Annette Sutherland, whom in 1943 perished in a plane crash. He was devastated by the loss of his wife and he cared for their son, Michael Evan Burr whom in 1953 passed away from Leukemia. He married two more times. His second marriage to Isabelle Ward ended in divorce and his third marriage to Laura Andrina Morgan ended in 1955 with his wife passing from cancer. There are many stories saying that a lot of his biography could be falsified and there are no records of a first or third marriage nor are there any records of him having a son or joining the military.
After Rayomnd Burr's death many began to suspect that he was such a private man because he was hiding his true homosexuality. It is not proven, but only believed that his true relationship and closest was to that of his friend and business partner, Robert Benevides. It is said, he hid his true sexuality due to the chance it might have ruined is career.
1993 Perry Mason: The Case of the Killer Kiss (TV movie)
1993 Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host (TV movie)
1993 The Return of Ironside (TV movie)
1993 Perry Mason: The Case of the Skin-Deep Scandal (TV movie)
1992 Perry Mason: The Case of the Heartbroken Bride (TV movie)
1992 Perry Mason: The Case of the Reckless Romeo (TV movie)
1992 Perry Mason: The Case of the Fatal Framing (TV movie)
1992 Grass Roots (TV movie)
1991 Perry Mason: The Case of the Fatal Fashion (TV movie)
1991 Perry Mason: The Case of the Glass Coffin (TV movie)
1991 Showdown at Williams Creek
1991 Perry Mason: The Case of the Maligned Mobster (TV movie)
1991 Perry Mason: The Case of the Ruthless Reporter (TV movie)
1990 Perry Mason: The Case of the Defiant Daughter (TV movie)
1990 Perry Mason: The Case of the Silenced Singer (TV movie)
1990 Perry Mason: The Case of the Desperate Deception (TV movie)
1990 Perry Mason: The Case of the Poisoned Pen (TV movie)
1989 Perry Mason: The Case of the All-Star Assassin (TV movie)
1989 Perry Mason: The Case of the Musical Murder (TV movie)
1989 Perry Mason: The Case of the Lethal Lesson (TV movie)
1988 Perry Mason: The Case of the Lady in the Lake (TV movie)
1988 Perry Mason: The Case of the Avenging Ace (TV movie)
1987 Perry Mason: The Case of the Scandalous Scoundrel (TV movie)
1987 Perry Mason: The Case of the Murdered Madam (TV movie)
1987 Perry Mason: The Case of the Sinister Spirit (TV movie)
1987 Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love (TV movie)
1986 Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star (TV movie)
1986 Perry Mason: The Case of the Notorious Nun (TV movie)
1985 Perry Mason Returns (TV movie)
1984 Godzilla 1985: The Legend Is Reborn
1982 Airplane II: The Sequel
1981 Peter and Paul (TV movie)
1980 The Night the City Screamed (TV movie)
1980 Out of the Blue
1980 The Curse of King Tut's Tomb (TV movie)
1980 The Return
1979 The Thirteenth Day: The Story of Esther (TV movie)
1979 Disaster on the Coastliner (TV movie)
1979 Lobo (TV series)
1979 Eischied (TV series)
1979 Love's Savage Fury (TV movie)
1978-1979 Centennial (TV mini-series)
1979 The Love Boat (TV series)
1978 The Jordan Chance (TV movie)
1978 The Bastard (TV movie)
1978 Tomorrow Never Comes
1977 Harold Robbins' 79 Park Avenue (TV mini-series)
1976-1977 Kingston: Confidential (TV series)
1976 Mallory: Circumstantial Evidence (TV movie)
1967-1975 Ironside (TV series)
1973 Portrait: A Man Whose Name Was John (TV movie)
1972 The Bold Ones: The New Doctors (TV series)
1963-1970 The Red Skelton Hour (TV series)
1968 It Takes a Thief (TV series)
1957-1966 Perry Mason (TV series)
1961 The Jack Benny Program (TV series)
1961 CBS Fall Preview Special: Seven Wonderful Nights (TV movie)
1960 Joyful Hour (TV movie)
1960 Desire in the Dust
1957 Playhouse 90 (TV series)
1957 Affair in Havana
1957 The Web (TV series)
1957 Undercurrent (TV series)
1957 Crime of Passion
1956 The Brass Legend
1956 Ride the High Iron
1956 Climax! (TV series)
1954 Lux Video Theatre (TV series)
1956 A Cry in the Night
1956 Secret of Treasure Mountain
1956 Great Day in the Morning
1956 Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
1956 Celebrity Playhouse (TV series)
1956 Please Murder Me
1956 The Star and the Story (TV series)
1954 The Ford Television Theatre (TV series)
1956 Chevron Hall of Stars (TV series)
1955 The 20th Century-Fox Hour (TV series)
1955 Count Three and Pray
1955 A Man Alone
1955 You're Never Too Young
1955 Schlitz Playhouse (TV series)
1954 They Were So Young
1954 Thunder Pass
1954 Khyber Patrol
1954 Rear Window
1954 Gorilla at Large
1954 Mr. & Mrs. North (TV series)
1954 Casanova's Big Night
1953 Four Star Playhouse (TV series)
1953 Fort Algiers
1953 Tarzan and the She-Devil
1953 Serpent of the Nile
1953 The Blue Gardenia
1953 The Bandits of Corsica
1953 Your Favorite Story (TV series)
1953 Tales of Tomorrow (TV series)
1951 Family Theatre (TV series)
1952 Horizons West
1952 Gruen Guild Theater (TV series)
1952 The Unexpected (TV series)
1952 Mara Maru
1952 Rebound (TV series)
1952 A Star Shall Rise
1951 Meet Danny Wilson
1951 Dragnet (TV series)
1951 Chesterfield Sound Off Time (TV series)
1951 FBI Girl
1951 Bride of the Gorilla
1951 The Magic Carpet
1951 The Whip Hand
1951 His Kind of Woman
1951 A Place in the Sun
1951 New Mexico
1951 Stars Over Hollywood (TV series)
1951 The Amazing Mr. Malone (TV series)
1951 The Bigelow Theatre (TV series)
1950 Key to the City
1949 Love Happy
1949 Red Light
1949 Black Magic
1949 Criss Cross
1949 Bride of Vengeance
1948 Adventures of Don Juan
1948 Walk a Crooked Mile
1948 Station West
1948 Raw Deal
1948 Fighting Father Dunne
1948 Sleep, My Love
1948 I Love Trouble
1947 Code of the West
1946 San Quentin
1946 Without Reservations
1940 Earl of Puddlestone