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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)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.