Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr

Overview

(Applause Books). Now in paperback, the complete story of the actor's career, including his secret gay life. Raymond Burr (1917-1993) was an enigma. A film noir regular known for his villainous roles in movies like Rear Window , he eventually became one of the most popular stars in television history as the lead actor on two top-rated dramas, Perry Mason and Ironside , which between them ran virtually uninterrupted for 20 years. But Raymond Burr was leading a secret gay life at a time in Hollywood when exposure would have been career suicide. To
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Overview

(Applause Books). Now in paperback, the complete story of the actor's career, including his secret gay life. Raymond Burr (1917-1993) was an enigma. A film noir regular known for his villainous roles in movies like Rear Window , he eventually became one of the most popular stars in television history as the lead actor on two top-rated dramas, Perry Mason and Ironside , which between them ran virtually uninterrupted for 20 years. But Raymond Burr was leading a secret gay life at a time in Hollywood when exposure would have been career suicide. To protect his secret, Burr fabricated a tragic past for himself as a grieving husband and father. He claimed to have been twice widowed he said his first wife had died in a plane crash, and his second marriage had ended with his wife's early death from cancer. And there was also a dead son 10-year-old Michael, who lost his battle with leukemia. Neither of the wives nor Michael ever existed. But that didn't stop these lies from being perpetuated again and again, even in Burr's New York Times obituary. Hiding in Plain Sight examines the totality of Raymond Burr's career and his personal life, including his 35 years with partner Robert Benevides. The author interviewed over 30 people who knew or worked with Burr, including Angela Lansbury, Barbara Hale, Robert Wagner, Gale Storm, and more.
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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: 9781423473718
  • Publisher: Hal Leonard Corporation
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 344,982
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

1 A Burr in the Saddle

Ch. 2 California Dreamin'

Ch. 3 An Old Wives' Tale

Ch. 4 (Un)true Romance

Ch. 5 Enter Perry Mason

Ch. 6 Howdy, Partner: A Little R&R

Ch. 7 A Confidential

Ch. 8 Your Slip Is Showing

Ch. 9 It's a Jungle Out There

Ch. 10 Raymond and the Misses

Ch. 11 Redux and Cover

Ch. 12 Twilight in the Vineyard

Ch. 13 Where There's a Will ...

Raymond Burr Credits

Author Interviews

Notes

Selected Bibliography

Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 30, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    Great read and full information on Mr. Burr.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2009

    Hiding in Plain Sight - Very Interesting Bio

    If you were a Perry Mason fan in the 50s and 60s and later when they did the 2-hour specials, Hiding in Plain Sight is a must read. Although the author did an excellent job, it didn't tell me anything that I didn't already know; but it was still a very interesting book. If you were a Raymond Burr fan at all, I think you will enjoy this book.

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