Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr by Michael Seth Starr

Raymond Burr (1917–1993) was an enigma. A film noir regular known for his villainous roles in movies like Rear Window, he eventually became one of the most popular stars in television history. He delighted millions of viewers each week with the top-rated shows Perry Mason and Ironside, which ran virtually uninterrupted for nearly 20 years. As crusading lawyer Perry Mason, he never lost a case in TV’s first one-hour crime drama. And as the gruff, wheelchair-bound cop Robert T. Ironside, he always got his man in the first TV series to feature a disabled protagonist.

But Burr was leading a secret gay life at a time in Hollywood when exposure would have been career suicide. While his closeted contemporaries protected their secret by being photographed with women on “dates” arranged by their studios, Burr instead fabricated a dark and tragic past for himself as a grieving husband and father. He claimed to have been twice widowed — he said his first wife died in a plane crash (the same one that killed actor Leslie Howard, he maintained), and his second marriage ended with his wife’s tragic early death from cancer. And there was also a dead son — little 10-year-old Michael who lost his brave battle with leukemia. Neither of the wives nor Michael ever existed. But that didn’t stop these lies from being perpetuated again and again, up to and including his obituary in the New York Times.

Hiding in Plain Sight examines the totality of Raymond Burr’s career and his personal life, including his partner of 35 years, Robert Benevides. (Benevides is still alive and runs the vineyard that he and Burr founded.) The author interviewed over 30 people who knew or worked with Burr, including Angela Lansbury, Barbara Hale, Robert Wagner, Gale Storm, and more.

About the author:
Michael Seth Starr has covered television at The New York Post for twelve years. He’s written biographies of Peter Sellers, Art Carney, Joey Bishop, and Bobby Darin, and he has appeared on numerous TV programs to promote his books, including The Today Show, The Early Show, Larry King Live, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, and Access Hollywood. He lives in Northern New Jersey.

Advance praise:
“Character actors seldom get the credit they deserve, but where would James Stewart and Grace Kelly in Rear Window be without the menacing Raymond Burr in the background? Burr was one of those few featured players fortunate enough to get noticed, and now he is fortunate again to be remembered in this fine biography.”    — Charlotte Chandler, author of  Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford, A Personal Biography

“Michael Seth Starr found the perfect title in Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr. Starr reveals the contents of Burr’s closet in a thoroughly probing but sympathetic way, as the seemingly straight-arrow guy best known as TV’s righteous Perry Mason turns out to have been a liar on the witness stand of his own life. What a story.”  — Ed Sikov, author of Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis

“Michael Seth Starr’s biography of Raymond Burr is a thorough, interesting page-turner about an actor whose career was unimaginably complex, due largely to his personal distress and his lack of self-esteem, the very aspects of his personality that made him a success. There are interesting facets of Burr’s life and career not previously examined in such detail that will appeal to both the film enthusiast and the general reader. I couldn’t put it down.”   — Marc Eliot, author of Cary Grant: A Biography

$24.95 /  Hardcover /  ISBN: 978-1-55783-694-6
280 pages, plus 32-page B&W photo insert
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group

Check out the cover here:

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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