Raymond Burr

Raymond Burr's more memorable roles in higher profile films included the lawyer in A Place in the Sun (1951) with Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor, and the murderer threatening Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock's classic suspense thriller Rear Window (1954).


Raymond Burr

 Raymond William Stacy Burr, actor (b at New Westminster, BC 21 May 1917; d at Healdsburg, Ca 13 Sep 1993). Raymond Burr attended Willard Middle School in Berkeley, Ca, as a child and worked in stage and radio for several years, starring in 4 plays at the Pasadena Playhouse, where he taught acting. He also gave seminars in television acting technique at Sonoma State University. He made his first film in 1946, and was typecast as a figure of smooth menace. He arrived in Hollywood in the 1940s after a stint on the New York stage, and made a career out of playing the heavy in B-movie thrillers.

Raymond Burr's more memorable roles in higher profile films included the lawyer in A Place in the Sun (1951) with Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor, and the murderer threatening Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock's classic suspense thriller Rear Window (1954). He also appeared in the original 1956 US-released version of the Japanese cult hit Godzilla, a part he reprised in the 1985 remake.

The heavy-set actor slimmed down for his starring role in the television series Perry Mason (1957-66). For his courtroom attorney who never lost a case, he received 3 Emmy Award nominations, winning in 1959 and 1961. Following Perry Mason, Raymond Burr received 5 Emmy Award and 2 Golden Globe nominations for the popular series Ironside (1967-75), in which he played the wheelchair-bound police detective Robert Ironside. In 1973 he played Pope John XXIII in the made-for-television movie Portrait: A Man Whose Name Was John. He appeared in numerous movies and television series, closing out his career by reprising the role of Perry Mason in 24 two-hour made-for-television movies from 1986 to 1993. He was also seen in 2 low-budget Canadian films, Out of the Blue (1981) with Dennis Hopper, and The Legend of Kootenai Brown (1991).

Raymond Burr was commemorated on a Canadian postage stamp in 2008 and given a star on Canada's Walk of Fame posthumously, in 2009. As well as being remembered for his dramatic roles, he was known to give generously to charities and good causes. He made 12 trips to visit US troops in Korea and 6 trips to Vietnam, sponsored more than 2 dozen foster children from many countries and took part in countless fundraisers on television. He received honorary degrees from the McGeorge School of Law, the University of British Columbia, the University of Colorado and the California State University at Pomona.

He is buried in the Burr family plot in New Westminster.


Further Reading

  • Michael Starr, Hiding in Plain Sight: the Secret Life of Raymond Burr (2008).