PERRY MASON’S WEB OF LIES!
Raymond Burr invented wives & a tragic son to hide he was gay
RUGGED Raymond Burr, who skyrocketed to fame as TV’s super lawyer Perry Mason, was guilty of perjury — for lying about his secret double life as a homosexual!
A new HBO series paints the fictional lawyer as a seedy, boozing 1930s gumshoe, but six-foot-two, 350-pound Burr played the defense lawyer as a sharp-dressed straight shooter in the drama that ran from 1957 to 1966 and was closely based on author Erle Stanley Gardner’s hit mystery novels.
But during his long acting career, Canadian-born Burr told whoppers — including lies about two wives, a son and an affair with Natalie Wood — to cover up his 33year live-in romance with gay lover Robert Benevides that could have killed his career back in the day.
“I think the wives and the loving women, the Natalie Wood thing, were a bit of a cover,” Perry Mason producer Arthur Marks told author Michael Seth Starr for his 2008 book, Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of
His only real marriage was to actress Isabella Ward from 1948 to 1952. But Burr fibbed that his first wife was actress Annette Sutherland, who died in the same 1943 air crash as Gone with the Wind star Leslie Howard.
Sources found no record of such a person on the flight — or of their marriage.
“I was Ray’s first wife,” Ward insisted.
Burr also claimed he and Annette had a son, Michael, who died of leukemia at age 10 in 1953.
But Ward said: “I never met Michael — because there was no son.”
Burr also concocted a third marriage to a Laura Morgan, who he claimed died of cancer in 1955, and swore he had a romance with Natalie Wood — which never happened.
Burr’s true love was actor Benevides. They met in 1960 and were together until Burr’s cancer death at 76 in 1993.
Wood later confessed their romance “was something the publicists just made up to protect Ray. We were very close friends. But as for lovers — no way.”
Actress Natalie Wood (left) said publicists made up the rumor she and Raymond had an affair
Raymond had a long romance with actor Robert Benevides