During most of his time on the series, Burr never owned a television set. As of February 1959, he had made close to one hundred episodes, yet he had watched only three of them. (Out of the ninety movies he had made by that time, he had watched only four.) Watching himself perform disagreed with him. "I'm a fine guy to be an actor," he said once. "Can't stand to have my picture taken."
He probably couldn't have found the time to watch his own acting even if he'd wanted to. Although he owned a beautiful Malibu home when the series was in production, he rarely got to enjoy it. He spent so much time on the studio lot, he often wound up sleeping there. When he did get to Malibu, he spent his off-hours raising flowers (orchids mostly) and a menagerie of animals, including forty ducks, geese, and chickens, a St. Bernard, and a burro named Zsa Zsa. Burr's home was also filled with a huge collection of art, and he was part-owner for a time of a prestigious Beverly Hills art gallery.
So, Burr was rich, generous, obviously brave, and a lover of animals and the arts. Yet he was living alone. The question was, now that he was successful, where were all the women? He once dated Natalie Wood in the late fifties. ("I was very attracted to her," he said. "I think she was to me.") But nothing came of it. He said he was just too busy. He told TV Guide in the middle of the Mason show's run: "Certainly I'd like to be married again. [But] I can't think of starting a marriage now, not with my schedule. It wouldn't be fair to any woman. Certainly his three previous sad attempts at marriage had had a great effect on him. But he would continue to blame his obligation to the Mason show for his lack of family life. Even as late as 1986, he told an interviewer that he regretted his long hours on the Mason series because he felt the time should have been spent getting married and raising a family. At last report, Burr was living on a farm in northern California with his long-time friend, companion, and business partner Robert Benevides.
|The Perry Mason TV Show Book Copyright © 1987 by Brian Kelleher and Diana Merrill. All rights reserved. Presented here by permission of the copyright holder. Commercial use prohibited. Web page Copyright © 1998 D. M. Brockman. Last edited 04 Nov 2004.|