Barbara Hale

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Barbara Hale
Barbara Hale in Jolson Sings Again trailer.jpg
Barbara Hale in Jolson Sings Again, 1949.
Born (1922-04-18) April 18, 1922 (age 92)
DeKalb, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1943–2000
Known for Perry Mason
Spouse(s) Bill Williams
(1946–92; his death; 3 children)
Children Jodi Katt (b. 1947)
William Katt (b. 1951)
Juanita Katt (b. 1953)

Barbara Hale (born April 18, 1922) is an American actress best known for her role as legal secretary Della Street on more than 250 episodes of the long-running Perry Mason television series and later reprising the role in 30 made-for-TV movies.


Hale was born in DeKalb, Illinois, to Luther Ezra Hale, a landscape gardener, and his wife, Wilma Colvin.[1] She is of Scots-Irish ancestry.[2] Hale graduated from high school in Rockford, Illinois, then attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, planning to become an artist. Her performing career began in Chicago when she started modeling to pay for her education.

Acting Career[edit]

Barbara Hale with Raymond Burr in Perry Mason, 1958.

Hale moved to Hollywood in 1943, and made her first screen appearances playing small parts (often uncredited). She was under contract to RKO Radio Pictures through the late 1940s. She appeared in Higher and Higher (1943) with Frank Sinatra; played leading lady to Robert Mitchum in West of the Pecos (1945); enjoyed top billing in both Lady Luck (1946) opposite Robert Young 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) and portrayed Julia Hancock in The Far Horizons (1955) with Fred MacMurray and Charlton Heston.

Her flourishing movie career more or less ended when Hale 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 several television movies. Her last performance to date was in 2000 at age 78. In 1967 she guest-starred on the ABC series Custer. Hale also had a featured role in the 1970 ensemble film Airport, playing the wife of a jetliner pilot (Dean Martin).


Barbara 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."[3]

Private Life[edit]

In 1945 during the filming of West of the Pecos, Hale met actor Bill Williams. They married the following year and became the parents of two daughters, Jodi and Juanita, and a son, actor William Katt. Katt played detective Paul Drake, Jr., with her in several made-for-television Perry Mason movies. She also guest-starred as the mother of Ralph Hinkley (played by Katt) in an episode of The Greatest American Hero (Episode 29, "Who's Woo in America"), and appeared as his mother in the movie Big Wednesday (1978).

Bill Williams died of cancer in 1992, after 46 years of marriage. Hale herself is a cancer survivor, and a grandmother. She is a follower of the Bahá'í Faith.[4]


Hale was recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960. She won an Emmy Award in 1959 and was nominated a second time in 1961.



Year Title Role Notes
1943 Gildersleeve's Bad Day Girl at Party Getting Peavey to Donate
Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event Girl at Airport
The Seventh Victim Subway Passenger
The Iron Major Sarah Cavanaugh
Gildersleeve on Broadway Stocking Salesgirl
Government Girl Girl in Hotel Lobby
Around the World Barbara
Higher and Higher Katherine Keating
1944 Prunce and Politics
The Falcon Out West Marion Colby
Goin' To Town (1944 film) 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
Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder Self
1953 Last of the Comanches Julia Lanning
Seminole Revere Muldoon
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 Ann Lorens
1958 Desert Hell Celie Edwards
1968 Buckskin Sarah Cody
1970 Airport Sarah Bakersfeld Demerest
The Red, White and Black Mrs. Alice Grierson
1975 The Giant Spider Invasion Dr. Jenny Langer
1978 Big Wednesday Mrs. Barlow

Perry Mason TV Movies[edit]


Year Title Role Notes
1952 The Ford Television Theatre, The Divided Heart
1953 Footlights Theater, Change of Heart Katherine Charles
Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, Vacation for Ginny
1954 The Ford Television Theatre, Remember to Live Marta Linden
1955 Studio 57, Young Couples Only Ruth
General Electric Theater, The Windmill Ellen Newman
Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, Tourists-Overnight
Screen Director's Playhouse, Meet the Governor June Waters
Celebrity Playhouse, He Knew All About Women
Science Fiction Theatre, Conversations With an Ape Nancy Stanton
Science Fiction Theatre, The Hastings Secret Pat Hastings
Climax!, The Day They Gave Babies Away Mamie Eunson
1956 The Ford Television Theatre, Behind the Mask Nora White
The Loretta Young Show, The Challenge Bill's Wife
Damon Runyon Theater, The Good Luck Kid Wendy Longfield
Crossroads, Lifeline Jane Sherman
The Millionaire, The Kathy Munson Story Kathy Munson and Marian Munson
Playhouse 90, The Country Husband Mrs. Julia Wiley
1957 Playhouse 90, The Blackwell Story
Playhouse 90, The Oklahoman Ann Barnes
Playhouse 90, Slim Carter Allie Hanneman
1959 General Electric Theater, Night Club Lorraine
1960 Here's Hollywood Herself
1963 Stump the Stars, 2 episodes Herself
1967 Custer, Death Hunt Melinda Terry
1969 Insight, A Thousand Red Flowers Mom
Lassie, Lassie and the Water Bottles Sarah Caldwell
1970 The Most Deadly Game, Model for Murder
1971 Ironside, Murder Impromptu Marsha Connell
Adam-12, Pick-up Bonnie Jessup Her husband, Bill Williams, also appeared in the episode.
1972 The Doris Day Show, Doris' House Guest Thelma King
1973 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, Chester, Yesterday's Horse Mrs. Belle Kincaid
1974 Marcus Welby, M.D., The Faith of Childish Things Marjorie
1976 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, Flight of the Grey Wolf, Parts 1 and 2 Mrs. Hanson
Dinah! Herself
1978 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, The Young Runaways Mrs. Ogle
Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, Big Wednesday Mrs. Barlow
1982 The Greatest American Hero, Who's Woo in America Paula Hinkley
1993 The Defense Rests: A Tribute to Raymond Burr Herself
2000 Biography: Raymond Burr, The Case of the TV Legend Herself


External links[edit]