Barbara Hale, the Emmy-winning actress who played the loyal legal secretary Della Street on the long-running TV series Perry Mason, died Thursday at her home in Sherman Oaks, California. She was 94.
Her son, the actor William Katt, confirmed Hale’s death on Facebook and remembered her as “gracious and kind and silly and always fun to be with.” She was a “wonderful actress and smart businesswoman,” Katt said, and “most of all a treasure as a friend and mother.”
Starring opposite Raymond Burr’s dogged defense attorney, Hale appeared all nine seasons of Perry Mason, which aired from 1957 to 1966 on CBS. She won her Emmy in 1959.
Two decades after the show concluded, Haleand Burr both reprised their roles for more than two dozen Perry Mason TV movies on NBC.
A native of DeKalb, Illinois, Hale worked as a contract player for RKO and Columbia early in her show business career. Before landing Perry Mason, she appeared in films including Higher and Higher (with Frank Sinatra), West of the Pecos (with Robert Mitchum), The Clay Pigeon (with her husband, Bill Williams), and A Lion Is In the Streets (with James Cagney).
Her later screen credits included Airport, The Giant Spider Invasion, and Big Wednesday, the latter of which also starred Katt. Hale’s survivors include her son and her two daughters, Johanna Katt and Juanita King.