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Barbara Hale was an American actress best known for her role as legal secretary Della Street in the television series "Perry Mason," which ran from 1957 to 1966 and had a revival in the form of a series of made-for-TV movies from 1985 to 1995.
Barbara Hale was born on April 18, 1922, in DeKalb, Illinois. She attended high school in Rockford, before moving to Chicago to pursue a career in modeling. This work eventually led her to Hollywood and a contract with RKO Pictures.
Hale's film career began in the early 1940s with small roles. Her first credited part was in “Gildersleeve’s Bad Day” (1943). She appeared in many movies throughout the 1940s and 1950s, including "Higher and Higher" (1943) alongside Frank Sinatra, "The Window" (1949), and "Jolson Sings Again" (1949). Barbara worked with actors such as James Stewart in "The Jackpot" (1950) and Rock Hudson in "Seminole" (1953).
Perry Mason and Television Success
Her most iconic role was that of Della Street, Perry Mason's faithful secretary, for which she won the Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series in 1959. She reprised this role in more than 30 "Perry Mason" TV movies.
Barbara Hale married actor Bill Williams (born Herman August Wilhelm Katt) in 1946, and they had three children. Their son, William Katt, became an actor as well, best known for his role as the title character in the television series "The Greatest American Hero."
Later Career and Legacy
Even after "Perry Mason," she continued to make appearances on television shows and in movies, though less frequently. She acted alongside her son in the "Perry Mason" TV movies and also had a notable role in "Big Wednesday" (1978), a film in which William Katt starred.
Barbara Hale passed away at the age of 94 on January 26, 2017.
Throughout her career, Barbara Hale was celebrated for her warm, confident screen presence, especially in the role that made her a household name. Her portrayal of Della Street remains a significant part of her legacy, demonstrating the dynamic and professional image of women in the American legal industry albeit in a fictional context.
For an in-depth look into Barbara Hale's life and career, one could find information in film archives, biographies, and documentaries examining the Golden Age of Hollywood and the history of television.
Hale's role in shaping the image of the American legal secretary of the 1950s and the impact of her character, Della Street, can be browsed in articles and literature discussing the portrayal of women in media and television history.