Barbara Hale, who is best known for her Emmy Award-winning role as loyal secretary to “Perry Mason” has died at age 94. The news of her death on Thursday at her Sherman Oaks home was posted on Facebook by her son, actor William Katt. Hale played opposite Raymond Burr on the iconic courtroom drama “Perry Mason” for nine seasons during the 1950’s and 1960’s. She was also the last living co-star from the show. Prior to landing her signature Della Street role, Hale made over 50 films as a contract player with Columbia and RKO pictures.

More than his girl Friday

Barbara Hale had been contemplating retirement to raise children, when she was approached to star opposite her old friend from RKO, Raymond Burr, in a new series based on Erle Stanley Gardner mystery novels about a fictional defense attorney.

The Illinois native accepted the gig without hesitation, liking the fact that her character was single and without children which might have confused her real-life kids. The actress garnered two Emmy nods, winning in 1959, for playing Della Street. Her character often seemed more like a personal assistant rather than a 9-to-5 secretary, regularly accompanying Mason on cases that took him outside the office as well as being his dinner date on more than one occasion. This caused much speculation as to the true nature of their relationship. Nevertheless, with pad and pencil in hand, Della Street proved to be the voice of insight in numerous episodes.

The legend of ‘Perry Mason’

Perhaps there is no legal expert in a television drama more famous that “Perry Mason,” which was played by the late Raymond Burr.

The series ran from 1957 to 1966 and was CBS’s first hour-long filmed show. Burr and Hale came back to television in 1985 to kick off a string of “Perry Mason Returns” on NBC, which are still shown occasionally, most notably on the Hallmark Mysteries & Movies channel. Hale’s son William Katt took on the role of Mason’s private investigator/right-hand man Paul Drake, Jr.

Drake Senior was played by the late William Hopper in the original series. In 1960, Barbara Hale received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She is survived by three children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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