Barbara Hale, best known for her Emmy Award-winning role as Perry Mason’s loyal secretary Della Street on the long-running 1950s and ’60s TV series starring Raymond Burr, has died. She was 94.
Hale died Thursday, according to her son, actor William Katt, who posted the news on his Facebook page. Katt’s agent, Jacqueline Sander, said Hale died at home, at peace with her family and friends.
Based on characters in author Erle Stanley Gardner’s popular mystery series, the hourlong “Perry Mason,” about a crime-solving defense attorney, ran for nine seasons on CBS, from 1957 to 1966. “Della wasn’t really a very big role,” Ms. Hale told the New Jersey newspaper The Record in 1986. “I had six days, six lines and six wardrobe changes a show. When I changed clothes, it signified another day had gone by in the script."
Barbara Hale was born on April 18, 1922, in
, the younger of two daughters of Luther
Ezra Hale, a horticulturist, and the former Willa Calvin. Two years later the
family moved to nearby DeKalb, Ill. . Rockford
After graduating from
Rockford High School,
where she was May queen, Ms. Hale went to
to study commercial art at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Her dream job, she
said years later, was to be an animator for the Disney studio. But at 19 she
was spotted on a street corner by a models’ agent, who found her work locally
(one early job was posing for a comic strip) and was so impressed with his
discovery that he sent her photographs to RKO Studios. Chicago