Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr

3.5 4
by Michael Seth Starr
     
 

Michael Seth Starr interviewed thirty people who knew or worked with Raymond Burr for this book, including Angela Lansbury, Barbara Hale, Robert Wagner, Fred Silverman, and Arthur Hiller. This book examines the totality of Raymond Burr's career and his personal life, including his relationship with his partner of over thirty-five years, Robert Benevides. Burr met… See more details below

Overview

Michael Seth Starr interviewed thirty people who knew or worked with Raymond Burr for this book, including Angela Lansbury, Barbara Hale, Robert Wagner, Fred Silverman, and Arthur Hiller. This book examines the totality of Raymond Burr's career and his personal life, including his relationship with his partner of over thirty-five years, Robert Benevides. Burr met Benevides, a struggling actor, on the set of Perry Mason. Together, they built a business empire, traveled the world, and shared their passion for orchids and fine wine, keeping the true nature of their relationship a secret from all but their closest friends, a secret revealed here in depth for the first time.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Starr's lackluster biography doesn't do justice to the complex man who transformed himself from B-movie thug to television's beloved attorney, Perry Mason. Born in British Columbia in 1917, Burr moved to California as a child, where he took his first stab at acting in a local theater group. Moving back and forth between bit parts in California and on Broadway, Burr finally signed a contract with RKO, despite his fictional résumé that claimed he spent time on the London stage. His deep baritone and imposing frame made him the perfect heavy in a string of RKO thrillers. But it was his role as Perry Mason on TV that made Burr a household name. Running from 1957 to 1966, the CBS courtroom drama featured Mason eliciting confessions on the witness stand and never losing a case to his arch nemesis, DA Hamilton Burger. Burr's private life, most notably his long-term relationship with Robert Benevides, was kept quiet, primarily through the dead spouses Burr invented along the way. Working steadily until his death in 1993 from cancer, Burr remained a television icon, following up the success of Mason with Ironside , where he played a paraplegic cop. Starr, who has biographies of Joey Bishop and Bobby Darin, does little to illuminate the actor or the man, and sidesteps a much-needed exploration of homosexuality in Burr's Hollywood. (May)

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Library Journal

With his imposing bulk, cold blue eyes, and darkly menacing mien, Canadian-born actor Raymond Burr (1917-93) became typecast as a heavy in the movies from the 1940s on. His modest cinema fame was overwhelmed by his later television celebrity as defense lawyer Perry Mason. But while Mason sought the truth, Burr was not so forthright about his own life. Almost all the publicity about his personal life was false, including his alleged war service, two marriages that didn't happen (he had a single brief one), and the deceased young son he never had. The reason for the deception was apparently the secret to which biographer Starr (Mouse in the Rat Pack: The Joey Bishop Story) refers-Burr's homosexuality. But that has been no secret for many years, and this superficial, straightforward chronology of the actor's career and life does not add much to the facts that have been readily available for a long time. Burr was an extremely private man, and little insight is provided into the closeted real person. Recommended for inclusive cinema collections only.
—Roy Liebman

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781557836946
Publisher:
Hal Leonard Corporation
Publication date:
05/01/2008
Pages:
297
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 10.92(h) x 0.95(d)

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