Barbara Hale

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Barbara Hale
Barbara Hale in The Houston Story trailer.jpg
as a blonde in The Houston Story (1956)
Born (1922-04-18) April 18, 1922 (age 92)
DeKalb, Illinois
Occupation Actress
Years active 1943–2000
Spouse(s) Bill Williams
(1946–92; his death; 3 children)
Children Jodi Hale
Juanita Hale
William Katt

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.

Acting career[edit]

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. She moved to Hollywood in 1943, and made her first screen appearances playing small parts (often uncredited).

Hale 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, Della Street, secretary to attorney Perry Mason, in the TV series with Raymond Burr. 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).

Spokesperson[edit]

Barbara Hale also is remembered as a spokeswoman 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]

Tributes[edit]

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

Movies[edit]

Movies
Year Title Role Notes
1943 Gildersleeve's Bad Day Girl at Party Getting Peavey to Donate
1943 Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event Girl at Airport
1943 The Seventh Victim Subway Passenger
1943 The Iron Major Sarah Cavanaugh
1943 Gildersleeve on Broadway Stocking Salesgirl
1943 Government Girl Girl in Hotel Lobby
1943 Around the World Barbara
1943 Higher and Higher Katherine Keating
1944 Prunce and Politics
1944 The Falcon Out West Marion Colby
1944 Goin' To Town (1944 film) Patty
1944 Heavenly Days Angie
1944 The Falcon in Hollywood Peggy Callahan
1945 West of the Pecos Rill Lambeth
1945 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
1949 The Window Mrs. Mary Woodry
1949 Jolson Sings Again Ellen Clark
1949 And Baby Makes Three Jacqueline 'Jackie' Walsh
1950 The Jackpot Amy Lawrence
1950 Emergency Wedding Dr. Helen Hunt
1951 Lorna Doone Lorna Doone
1952 The First Time Betsey Bennet
1952 Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder Self
1953 Last of the Comanches Julia Lanning
1953 Seminole Revere Muldoon
1953 The Lone Hand Sarah Jane Skaggs
1953 A Lion Is in the Streets Verity Wade
1955 Unchained Mary Davitt
1955 The Far Horizons Julia Hancock
1956 The Houston Story Zoe Crane
1956 7th Cavalry Martha Kellogg
1957 The Oklahoman Ann Lorens
1958 Desert Hell Celie Edwards
1968 Buckskin Sarah Cody
1970 Airport Sarah Bakersfeld Demerest
1970 The Red, White and Black Mrs. Alice Grierson
1975 The Giant Spider Invasion Dr. Jenny Langer
1978 Big Wednesday Mrs. Barlow

The made-for-TV Perry Mason movies[edit]

All other television[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]