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 94)
DeKalb, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1943–2000
Known for Perry Mason
Spouse(s) Bill Williams
(married 1946–1992) (his death)
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 270 episodes of the long-running Perry Mason television series. She reprised the role in 30 Perry Mason movies for television.


Barbara 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 in 1940[3] from Rockford High School[4] 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.[5] Hale's family included a sister, Juanita, for whom Hale's younger daughter was named.[3]

Acting career[edit]

Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale in the CBS-TV series, Perry Mason (1958)
William Hopper, Barbara Hale and Frank Sully in Perry Mason (1958)


Hale moved to Hollywood in 1943, and made her first screen appearances playing small parts (often uncredited). Her first role was in Gildersleeve's Bad Day.[5] She was under contract to RKO Radio Pictures through the late 1940s. She appeared in Higher and Higher (1943) with Frank Sinatra and sang with the crooner;[6] played leading lady to Robert Mitchum in West of the Pecos (1945); enjoyed top billing in both Lady Luck (1946) opposite Robert Young, her first "full stardom" and "her fifth A picture",[5][4] 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), co-starred with James Stewart in The Jackpot (1951), with James Cagney in a 1953 drama, A Lion Is in the Streets, and opposite Rock Hudson in 1953's Seminole. She then appeared in 1955's The Far Horizons with Fred MacMurray and Charlton Heston, also working with some of Hollywood's best-known leading men of the day.


Hale's 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 30 Perry Mason television films (1985–95).

She co-starred with Joel McCrea in a 1957 western, The Oklahoman, but there were few leading roles thereafter. Hale did have a featured role in the 1970 ensemble film Airport, playing the wife of a jetliner pilot (Dean Martin).

Hale's career became inextricably linked with that of Perry Mason co-star Burr, including her 1971 guest-starring role on his next series, Ironside, in an episode titled "Murder Impromptu," followed by their 1980s and early '90s TV movies together.

Her last onscreen appearance to date came in a TV biographical documentary about Burr that aired in 2000.


Hale's activity in radio was more limited than in film or television. She appeared in five episodes of Family Theater (1950-1954) and in one episode each of Lux Radio Theatre (1950), Voice of the Army (1947), and Proudly We Hail (syndicated).[7]


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."[8]

Private life[edit]

In 1945 during the filming of West of the Pecos, Hale met actor Bill Williams. They married June 22, 1946,[9] 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 a 1982 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.[10]


Hale was recognized as a Star of Television (with a marker at 1628 Vine Street) on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960.[11] She won the Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Continuing Character) in a Dramatic Series in 1959 and was nominated for the Emmy for Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor or Actress in a Series in 1961.[12]

She was presented one of the Golden Boot Awards in 2001 for her contributions to western cinema.[13]


Year Title Role Notes
1943 Gildersleeve's Bad Day Girl at Party Getting Peavey to Donate Uncredited
Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event Girl at Airport Uncredited
The Seventh Victim Subway Passenger Uncredited
The Iron Major Sarah Cavanaugh Uncredited
Gildersleeve on Broadway Stocking Salesgirl Uncredited
Government Girl Girl in Hotel Lobby Uncredited
Around the World Barbara Hale Uncredited
Higher and Higher Katherine Keating
1944 Prunes and Politics Short film
The Falcon Out West Marion Colby
Goin' To Town 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
Castle in the Air Barbara Hale Uncredited
1953 Last of the Comanches Julia Lanning
Seminole Revere
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 Anne Barnes
Slim Carter Allie Hanneman
1958 Desert Hell Celie Edwards
1968 Buckskin Sarah Cody
1970 Airport Sarah Demerest
The Red, White and Black Mrs. Alice Grierson
1975 The Giant Spider Invasion Dr. Jenny Langer
1978 Big Wednesday Mrs. Barlow
Year Title Role Notes
1952–56 The Ford Television Theatre Marta Linden, Nora White Episodes: "The Divided Heart", "Remember to Live", "Behind the Mask"
1953 Footlights Theater Katherine Charles Episode: "Change of Heart"
1953–55 Schlitz Playhouse of Stars Episodes: "Vacation for Ginny", "Tourists-Overnight"
1955 Studio 57 Ruth Episode: "Young Couples Only"
General Electric Theater Ellen Newman Episode: "The Windmill"
Screen Director's Playhouse June Waters Episode: "Meet the Governor"
Celebrity Playhouse Episode: "He Knew All About Women"
Climax! Mamie Eunson Episode: "The Day They Gave Babies Away"
Science Fiction Theatre Nancy Stanton, Pat Hastings Episodes: "Conversations With an Ape", "The Hastings Secret"
1956 The Loretta Young Show Bill's Wife Episode: "The Challenge"
Damon Runyon Theater Wendy Longfield Episode: "The Good Luck Kid"
Crossroads Jane Sherman Episode: "Lifeline"
The Millionaire Kathy Munson and Marian Munson Episode: "The Kathy Munson Story"
1956–57 Playhouse 90 Mrs. Julia Wiley, Ann Barnes, Allie Hanneman Episodes: "The Country Husband", "The Blackwell Story", "The Oklahoman", "Slim Carter"
1957–66 Perry Mason Della Street Credited in all 271 episodes
1959 General Electric Theater Lorraine Episode: "Night Club"
1960 Here's Hollywood Herself
1963 Stump the Stars Herself 2 episodes
1967 Custer Melinda Terry Episode: "Death Hunt"
1969 Insight Mom Episode: "A Thousand Red Flowers"
Lassie Sarah Caldwell Episode: "Lassie and the Water Bottles"
1970 The Most Deadly Game Episode: "Model for Murder"
1971 Ironside Marsha Connell Episode: "Murder Impromptu"
Adam-12 Bonnie Jessup Episode: "Pick-up"; Hale's husband Bill Williams also appears
1972 The Doris Day Show Thelma King Episode: "Doris' House Guest"
1973–78 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Mrs. Belle Kincaid, Mrs. Hanson, Mrs. Ogle, Mrs. Barlow Episodes: "Chester, Yesterday's Horse", "Flight of the Grey Wolf, Parts 1 and 2", "The Young Runaways", "Big Wednesday"
1974 Marcus Welby, M.D. Marjorie Episode: "The Faith of Childish Things"
1976 Dinah! Herself
1982 The Greatest American Hero Paula Hinkley Episode: "Who's Woo in America"
1985 Perry Mason Returns Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
1986 The Case of the Notorious Nun Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Shooting Star Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
1987 The Case of the Lost Love Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Sinister Spirit Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Murdered Madam Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Scandalous Scoundrel Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
1988 The Case of the Avenging Ace Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Lady in the Lake Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
1989 The Case of the Lethal Lesson Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Musical Murder Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the All-Star Assassin Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
1990 The Case of the Poisoned Pen Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Desperate Deception Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Silenced Singer Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Defiant Daughter Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
1991 The Case of the Ruthless Reporter Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Maligned Mobster Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Glass Coffin Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Fatal Fashion Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
1992 The Case of the Fatal Framing Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Reckless Romeo Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Heartbroken Bride Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
1993 The Case of the Skin-Deep Scandal Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Killer Kiss Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Wicked Wives Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Defense Rests: A Tribute to Raymond Burr Herself
1994 The Case of the Lethal Lifestyle Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
The Case of the Grimacing Governor Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
1995 The Case of the Jealous Jokester Della Street Perry Mason TV movie
2000 Biography Herself Episode: "Raymond Burr, The Case of the TV Legend"


  1. ^ Descendants of John Hale Sr. (Frontiersman) - Hale Roots Archived March 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Barbara Hale - The Private Life and Times of Barbara Hale. Barbara Hale Pictures". Retrieved 2014-03-12. 
  3. ^ a b Wright, Gilson (April 15, 1973). "Barbara Hale is "my kind of people" says writer". The Journal News. p. 12. Retrieved September 4, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read
  4. ^ a b "Barbara Hale". 20 (16). Life. April 22, 1946: 111–114. 
  5. ^ a b c Gunson, Victor (March 16, 1946). "Barbara Hale Attaining Film Stardom, Happiest over Obtaining a New House!". The Morning Herald. p. 16. Retrieved September 4, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read
  6. ^ King, Susan (December 12, 1993). "Retro : Barbara Hale's Success Is No Mystery". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "Hale, Barbara". radioGOLDINdex. Retrieved 7 September 2015. 
  8. ^ 1973 Radarange TV commercial (first 30 seconds of video)
  9. ^ York, Cal (September 1962). "Raymond Burr Saved My Marriage". TV Radio Mirror. 58 (4): 62–64. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  10. ^ "Bahai faith teaches universal acceptance of God". Associated Press. 2000-12-30. 
  11. ^ "Barbara Hale". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved 7 September 2015. 
  12. ^ "Awards Search: Barbara Hale". Television Academy: Emmys. Retrieved 7 September 2015. 
  13. ^ "Golden Boot Awards 2001". Retrieved 7 September 2015. 

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