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

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