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Raymond Burr’s Gay Life Wide Open

raymond-burr-early-1950s-1.jpg
Raymond Burr’s private gay life will soon be made public in a new biography.

The Perry Mason actor told suits and the public that he had lost a wife and son, but Burr actually lived in 35-year long committed relationship with another man, Robert Benevide.

Here’s a taste:

Once Perry Mason took off, the dead-wife-and-son story was repeated time and again. Raymond could have ended it all right then and there, blaming the mix-up on an overeager studio publicist or on his youthful showbiz naïveté. But he chose to continue perpetrating the fabrications by refusing to address them.

Raymond’s grueling Perry Mason shooting schedule would have made it difficult for him to have a romance with a member of either sex. So he used his long hours on the set as a convenient excuse whenever the subject of remarrying was raised. “I am an unmarried man, as opposed to a single man,” he lectured one reporter in November 1957.

Clever distinction, no?

By:           Andrew Belonksy
On:           May 27, 2008
Tagged: , , ,
  • 13 Comments
    • dvlaries
      dvlaries

      I remember listening to Howard Stern’s show one morning in the early 90s when Stern was talking about his own father’s days working in radio. According to Howard, Ben Stern crossed paths with Burr on at least one occasion when Burr had come in to record advertisement voice-overs. The gist of the story was that, even those relatively closeted times of the 50s and 60s, anyone encountering Burr in work situations where Burr wasn’t in character could have made him for a total mary.

      May 27, 2008 at 11:46 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      I’d like to hear more. Anyone that can butch it up that much would HAVE to know he was acting a total mary. It is possible he didn’t care but then that wouldn’t seem to jive with not one but TWO fictional wives and a fictional son.

      If he was that big of a homo, then surely others will know too.

      May 27, 2008 at 12:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ggreen
      ggreen

      Cast all the aspersions you like with the second hand information about Burr. I actually met him in 1982 at the Embarcadero in San Francisco. He had a great character actor career before Perry Mason in B films and noirs mostly as the heavy (no pun intended). Its too bad most of his film and TV work was in black and white. He had the deepest blue eyes I have ever seen. His eyes had that Joan Crawford searchlight appeal. When you looked him in the eye you knew why he was a star. It’s a shame he had to live his life in the closet.

      May 27, 2008 at 12:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • afrolito
      afrolito

      He chose to live his life in the closet. Inventing dead wives and children all the way to the very end is just pathetic.

      May 27, 2008 at 12:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • todd
      todd

      It was a different time. Don’t judge too harshly.

      May 27, 2008 at 2:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • duvet
      duvet

      He was married once, legally, to Isabella Ward, from 1947 until 1952. Why go to all the trouble to invent two other wives (including one who supposed died in the same plane crash that killed movie star Leslie Howard)? And a dead son? Seems like a massive amount of overkill, if you ask me. (Pardon the pun.)

      May 27, 2008 at 2:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tim
      tim

      HEY..Pay Attention to TODD’s comment which I agree with his statement. It is so perfect for you to understand his comment!!!!!!!

      May 27, 2008 at 5:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mr C
      Mr C

      Exactly, He is passed on and has hurt no one. Allow him to continue to rest in Peace!

      May 29, 2008 at 3:54 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Christopher
      Christopher

      @dvlaries: The only reason that Howard’s dad was able to pick up on Raymond’s tendencies was that Ben was in fact a big old fruit. I have a great uncle who worked in radio and met Ben Stern, and he basically said that he was an “old school swisher”. My Uncle lived with his “friend”, Edward, for 25 years. Surprisingly neither of them did any dating. They did have separate rooms, but as a kid, I remember tht Edward’s room always look like nobody actually lived there.

      I think that the apple doesn’t fall far from teh tree. As much as I love Howard, his constant obsession with women, lesbians and sex, are serious overkill, hiding a deeply rooted love of the old sausage. Whenever Howard has a good looking male guest, he flirts, says things like “I’m no homo, but you are one good looking guy” as well as other double entendres that sound a lot like closeted flirting.

      When we see those pictures of Howard taking it in the roo roo, not too many of us will be shocked. I just want to see the expression on his face.

      Jan 15, 2009 at 9:42 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joseph Bell
      Joseph Bell

      Someone on another post said something like: 1) Is it OK to be gay? 2) If yes, then no problem. I would like to put this another way: 1) Raymond Burr consistently denied living a gay lifestyle. If this was true then no problem. 2) Various sources are cited to suggest (not proved before law) that he was not telling the truth. If this is the case, then he was concealing his sexual preferences to protect the sensitivities of his viewers (possibly for career reasons), and not least, to protect the impressionable personalities of untold early teen viewers who might have been led by his prestige to view his lifestyle as a valid choice. In either case Burr did the right thing in the situation and comes out OK. That like countless pairs in his generation, he lived out his post-married life with a same-sex housemate/apartment-mate with whom he shared hobby and other interests is no cause to arouse lurid curiosity. This question merits no further time. Until he is able to tell me otherwise face-to-face, I prefer to believe Raymond Burr.

      Jan 14, 2011 at 6:19 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Douglas UK
      Douglas UK

      Did being gay give Raymond Burr Colon Cancer ? Possibly caused by unprotected anal sex?
      I have noticed watching repeats of Perry Mason here in the UK that he is nearly always static, either sitting down or being “discovered” next to furniture or leaning on it, especially in the courtroom, and turning into and out of shot, I have read elsewhere that he had trouble walking, could this have been due to the colon cancer ?

      Jan 17, 2011 at 4:14 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ashley power
      Ashley power

      @afrolito: @afrolito:

      Sep 15, 2011 at 10:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Al T.
      Al T.

      He sure didn’t sound gay….Must’ve disguised his voice when he was in public and on the set.

      Nov 19, 2011 at 9:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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