Barbara Hale is an American actress best remembered for her role as Della Street in the TV series ‘Perry Mason’ which earned her an Emmy Award. She later reprised the role in 30 Perry Mason films for television. Her film projects include ‘The Window’, 'Big Wednesday', 'Lady Luck', 'Lorna Doone' and 'Airport', to name a few. Born to a landscape gardener, Hale grew up alongside a sister. Following her graduation from Rockford High School, she studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Her performing career started in Chicago where she began modeling, eventually moving to Hollywood in 1943. She found much success over the ensuing years. She won numerous accolades including the Golden Boot Award for her contributions to western cinema. In 1946, the actress married actor Bill Williams; their marriage lasted for 46 years until Williams’s death in 1992. They had two daughters and a son. Despite suffering from bladder cancer, Barbara Hale lived a long life and died in 2017 at the age of 94.
Barbara Hale made her first screen appearance in the comedy ‘Gildersleeve's Bad Day’ (in an uncredited role), which was released in 1943. She continued to make uncredited appearances in movies, until her first credited role in the musical ‘Higher and Higher’ the same year. This was followed by her roles in ‘Lady Luck,’ ‘West of the Pecos’ and ‘The Window.’
The actress enjoyed moderate success during the 1950s with the comedy film ‘The Jackpot’, the adventure ‘Lorna Doone’ and the Westerns ‘The Oklahoman’ and ‘Seminole’. In 1970, she featured as the wife of an airline pilot, Sarah Demerest, in the disaster film ‘Airport’. Produced on a $10 million budget, the flick earned over $100 million at the box office. Hale's final appearance in a feature movie was in the 1978 ‘Big Wednesday’ as Mrs. Barlow.
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In 1957, Barbara Hale was cast as Della Street in the legal drama series ‘Perry Mason’. The series ran for nine seasons until 1966, earning the actress a Primetime Emmy Award. She later reprised her role of Street in the TV film ‘Perry Mason Returns’. The movie was such a resounding success that it led to the production of further 29 films.
Her last on-screen appearance was in a 2000 biographical documentary TV series episode about Raymond Burr in ‘Biography’.
Barbara Hale also had a decent career on radio. In 1947, she featured in one episode of ‘Voice of the Army’. This was followed by her guest roles in the shows ‘Proudly We Hail’ and ‘Lux Radio Theatre’. From 1950 to 1954, the actress starred in five episodes of the dramatic anthology show ‘Family Theater.’
Family & Personal Life
Barbara Hale was born on April 18, 1922, in DeKalb, Illinois, USA to Luther Ezra Hale and Wilma. She had one sister named Juanita. She studied at Rockford High School and later graduated from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.
Hale met actor Bill Williams in 1945. The couple married in June 1946 and stayed together for 46 years until Williams' death on September 21, 1992. The two had a son, actor William Kat, and two daughters, namely, Jodi and Juanita.
She was a bladder cancer survivor. On January 26, 2017, the actress died at her home in California from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, at the age of 94.