In this guest post, Rick 29 presents some fascinating facts about the legendary Raymond Burr:
1. According to John Beltran’s book Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, the famed director gave Raymond Burr’s villain gray, curly hair and glasses to look like David O. Selznick. Hitchcock and Selznick clashed frequently during their film collaborations.
2. When the original Godzilla (1954) was released in the U.S. in 1956, it was re-edited and included new scenes of Raymond Burr as a reporter. His character’s name: Steve Martin.
3. Raymond Burr had to audition for the role of Perry Mason in the 1957-1966 TV series. Originally, he tried out for the part of private investigator Paul Drake. He was later called back for an audition as Perry. His competition for the role included William Hopper–who was eventually cast as Paul Drake. Other actors allegedly considered for the famous attorney included Fred MacMurray, Richard Carlson, and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
4. Burr appeared in the last episode of Perry Mason on May 22, 1966. Sixteen months later, he starred in the first episode of Ironside (a pilot film had aired earlier in March 1967). Ironside ran for an impressive eight seasons, meaning that Raymond Burr appeared in 271 episodes of Perry Mason and 199 episodes of Ironside. He reprised Perry Mason and Robert T. Ironside for made-to-TV “reunion movies.” The former telefilm, Perry Mason Returns (1985), spawned a series of 30 TV movies. Burr starred in 26 of them, with Paul Sorvino and Hal Holbrook playing other attorneys in the last four films following Burr’s death.
5. Raymond Burr was nominated for eight Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: five times for Ironside and three times for Perry Mason. His only wins were for Perry Mason in 1959 and 1961. Just to show that nobody can always be successful in television, Burr’s 1976 series Kingston Confidential — in which he played a powerful, crime-solving publisher — only lasted for 14 episodes.
7. Actress Jacqueline Scott worked with Raymond Burr while guest starring on Perry Mason (multiple episodes) and Ironside. When we interviewed her in 2016, she described him as the consummate professional: “Raymond was a very special man. We shot court scenes on Perry Mason for two days. And on those days, he would have someone there to cue him the day before or else they worked at night. When he shot his scenes, he never used a script or a teleprompter. He knew his lines like the back of his hand…every single episode.”
Rick29 is a film reference book author and a regular contributor at the Classic Film & TV Café , and on Facebook and Twitter. He’s a big fan of MovieFanFare, too, of course!