Jan 10, 2018

Who Was Gay on "Perry Mason"? Everyone, Apparently.

To my parents' generation, Perry Mason was The Lawyer, what lawyers were all about: stern but caring, eminently professional (with no social life to speak of), defending clients on trial for murder, using logic and luck to uncover the real murderer, who is usually sitting right in the court room:  "I had to do it!  He would have ruined me, don't you understand?"

Created by Earle Stanley Gardner, in 1933, Perry Mason appeared in over 80 novels and short stories, becoming one of the best-known fictional characters of all time.  Movie adaptions began almost immediately, in 1934.  A radio series began in 1943.

The iconic tv series began in 1957, and ran for nine seasons.  Years later, tv movies began to air, three or four per year, thirty in all (1985-93).

In the original series, there were five main characters:

1. Perry,  played by busy character actor Raymond Burr.  Burr was gay, but invented a heterosexual back story for himself, and refused to be seen in public with lover Robert Benevides. He never came out to the rest of the cast; they knew, sort of, but they didn't know.










2. His secretary Della Street (Barbara Hale), with whom Perry did not have a "will they or won't they" sparring romance, like every pair of male-female coworkers on every tv show since.

Barbara Hale's husband, Bill Williams, was rumored to be gay.

They had one son, William Katt (The Greatest American Hero)










3. Private investigator Paul Drake.  Played by William Hopper (gossip columnist Hedda Hopper's son), who was rumored to be gay.  He was married twice, and had a son.
















4. District attorney Hamilton Burger (William Talman), who must hate going to trial against Perry Mason, since he will invariably lose.

Talman was also rumored to be gay, although he was married three times.  He was fired in 1960, after the police raided a party he was attending, and found the guests (both men and women) nude and  "high on marijuana."  Burr and other cast members intervened, and got him re-hired.

5. Homicide detective Lt. Tragg (Ray Collins).  He was probably straight.



21 comments:

  1. The scope of your knowledge is impressive, to say the least. Many thanks for your labours!

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    1. Barbara Hale and her husband Bill (Katt) Williams had three sons. One, William Katt Jr., played "Paul Drake Jr." in the Perry Mason TV Movies.

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  2. I love Perry Mason and will watch reruns over and over. So many of the male actors on the show tended to be very masculine, good looking, hairy chested guys and after reading Raymond Burr's biography, I've often wondered if they were Burr's "type" or what was popular in casting at the time. Of course, knowing what I know now, I make up my own stories of what's going on between the good looking men and Burr's character. Needless to say, my storyline is way better!

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    1. I can't remember what led up to it, but in one episode Perry and Della are going to eat apparently leaving Paul Drake behind.
      "What about me?" Paul says.
      Perry smiles faintly and says, "You're not my type," then tells him to "come on."

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    2. I just saw this episode

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  3. I noticed in Case of the Crafty Kidnapper, William Tallman wore a pinky ring as Raymond Burr did in a few episodes. Did it have the same meaning as Burr's?

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    1. In psychology, wearing a pinky ring means you have restrictions in your relationships.

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  4. If you ever noticed Talman walking back to his seat it makes you wonder.

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    1. I never actually saw the show.

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    2. Agreed about watching him walk back to his seat. The way he carried his hands and his walk made me suspicious that he was a little light in the loafers. I just watched an episode and on a lark decided to look into him. I happened upon these posts. Guess I wasn't the only one taking notice.

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    3. William Talman walking back to his seat is what caught my eye.It made me say mmmm....

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    4. I watch reruns all the time as my dad was a criminal defense attorney and as a kid (and now) found it amazing how much they looked alike. Watching Talman walking back to his seat I thought his mannerisms seemed gay. Hence I asked Siri and up came this.

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    5. Yes talman walking to his seat made me wonder also lol

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    6. The way Talman moves his hands made me wonder.

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  5. While watching Case of the Nervous Neighbor, I noticed Paul wearing a pinky ring like Perry. Was he gay in real life?

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  6. I'm watching now and Burger also wore a pinky ring in the Case of the Positive Negative.

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  7. Talman was a flamer in my opinion. His mannerisms proved it. Tis true that it takes one to know one.

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  8. The pinky ring and his walk and the way he lays his hand on the table when he says your cross examination.

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  9. The link you provide for Boomer's Gay Celebrity Stories apparently no longer works. Have they been moved to another site?

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    1. I got a warning from Google stating that "98% of your storage is used." I thought it refered to my blogs, so I deleted the two that I was no longer updating. Actually it referred to Gmail -- even when you delete an email and "empty the trash," it is still there, squirreled away into various folders that you have to clear separately. There were 32,000 emails that I thought were long gone.

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