Raymond Burr was a well-known and respected performer. But how many people can honestly claim that they knew the person whose famous name was behind it? After all, he had lived his entire life hidden behind a shroud of tales that he had created to hide his great and forbidden love for the other.

On May 21, 1917, the world-famous actor Raymond William Stacy Burr was born in New Westminster, located in the province of British Columbia, Canada. His lengthy and prosperous career in Hollywood, which included roles in some films and a few popular tv shows, was largely to blame for his rise to fame. The one that brought him the most recognition was his part in the drama “Perry Mason.”

The performance took a toll on Burr. Every single weekly episode was an incredible hour long, and Burr was expected to show up to the show set bright and early every day for it to be filmed. The actor labored nonstop, frequently putting in 15-hour days on set while filming the next episode and sleeping in a small bungalow given by the production.

Raymond Burr, circa 1975, in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images


The principal role in “Perry Mason” was one that the actor played for the better part of nine years of his life. When the actor glanced at the years he had spent working to make the drama series a hit, he realized that he had wasted much of his life on something that he could have done differently with his time. One thing that was missing from his life was a loving and supportive family. It was suggested that:

“The only thing I regret in my life — I’m sorry I spent nine years tying myself down. I couldn’t be married, have a family, even have friends.”

That’s not to say that Burr wasn’t interested in starting his own family, though. The performer maintained throughout his life that he had been married three times and that each of those marriages had failed tragically. Burr stated that his first wife died in a plane accident in 1943. Burr mentioned in passing that they had been married and had a son named Michael Burr but that the boy had passed away from leukemia.

Natalie Wood with Raymond Burr in Los Angeles, California, 1956 | Source: Getty Images

The couple divorced after only a few months of being married a second time. His first wife’s name was never revealed; the same can be said about his third wife. According to Burr, his third wife, Laura Andrina Morgan, passed away from cancer before the couple could go on their honeymoon. Laura Andrina Morgan was his third wife. After his death, it was found that all of his supposed marriages, except for his second, had been lies.

The Skeletons in Burr’s Closet

The media did stop harassing the actor about his private life after several years of uncertainty regarding his past wives and Burr’s continued silence regarding the subject of his son. Burr chose to keep his personal life secret, so he commonly avoided questions about his multiple wives when they were raised.

Burr was known for being a talented actor and starred in many roles throughout his career. In addition, he took an interest in assisting young people living in poverty to achieve success in life.

Despite his reticence to discuss his past, the public’s fascination was sparked by the tale of his late wife and son. Burr always replied with the same curt phrase whenever reporters questioned him about them: “I don’t discuss that.” Because he was reluctant to bring up the subject, stories about it quickly spread, and it became an important part of the legend regarding his mysterious past.

People began to believe the story as truth after some time had passed, assuming that Burr could not bear to think about the tragedy any longer. Even though the public was willing to believe the story, holes started appearing in it when Burr’s second wife, Isabella Ward, who had been married to him for only a few months, maintained that she had no awareness of a marriage that came before theirs.

Ward insisted throughout their entire marriage that she was Burr’s first wife and that he never once brought up another woman in his life before her. She also mentioned that before his son reportedly passed away from leukemia, she had never had the chance to meet him. The family of Burr also acknowledged that they had never met the boy or the bride. Ward was honest and said:

“No, I never met him. Because there was no son. But I don’t want to talk about that — it isn’t my place to say anything about that. I was Ray’s first wife. If a wife had been before me, he would have told me.”

Raymond Burr July 1982 at Prince of Wales Theatre in London, Great Britain | Source: Getty Images

Burr always maintained that his hectic lifestyle was why he decided never to get married. He specified that it was difficult for him to find a woman ready to embrace his 15-hour work schedule without any concerns. Although he spent most of his evenings at the studio and did not go home for several days at a time, on the nights that he did make it home, he commonly arrived quite a bit later than planned.

The details of Burr’s private life first became public in 1993. The actor was informed that he had serious kidney cancer and was aware that he did not have much time left to live. People started to conclude that most of what he had said about his life was fabricated as his stories about his life’s history began to fall apart one by one.

Despite the actor and Ward’s long marriage, the actress recognized marriage wasn’t for her. During this time, Burr hid the truth that he was gay by using the union as a front. Burr had hidden his sexual orientation so that he would not be rejected by the rest of Hollywood and could continue his career.

Raymond Burr in Los Angeles, California, circa 1985 | Source: Getty Images

Burr spent his final days hosting numerous extravagant parties at his California home, which he shared for many years with his long-time partner Robert Benevides. During these parties, he said his goodbyes to his closest friends. Burr and Benevides had been together for 35 years, having first come into contact with one another thanks to the notorious Scotty Bowers. Additionally, they collaborated on the show “Perry Mason.

Benevides acknowledged that Bowers had planned a date between him and Burr in 1959, and the two remained together for the remainder of Burr’s life. Benevides allegedly took care of the property while knitting Burr sweaters in front of the fire in 1963, according to a rumor that the couple had secretly wed. A close friend of the couple explained their relationship with the audience, stating the following:

“If you went to their house, Raymond would be wearing a frilly pink apron and doing the ironing. He fussed around like the woman of the house. Raymond always called Robert ‘my husband.’ He would knit sweaters for him in front of the fire.”

Raymond Burr on March 11, 1977, in Hollywood, California | Source: Getty Images

After Burr’s passing, all of his secrets were, at long last, revealed by some different sources. Benevides, the actor’s long partner, received everything he owned, including a vineyard, in his will. Benevides took over the vineyard after he passed away, carrying on the work he and his partner had started. In the years that followed, he revealed more about their relationship.

Raymond Burr’s Enduring Legacy

After his passing, Burr was regarded as an exceptional talent even though the public was horrified to find that he had lied about a significant portion of his past. His two popular television shows, “Perry Mason” and “Ironside,” were still highly regarded as exceptional forms of entertainment. He was praised for acting in the various Hitchcock films in which he starred.

After seeing the poverty in many foreign nations, Burr felt compelled to do something to improve the lives of children.

Burr was known for his skill as an actor and appeared in a wide range of roles throughout his career. In addition, he took an interest in helping children who were struggling financially to establish themselves in the community. Over the course of his career, the actor took in a number of less fortunate children from various countries, including Italy, Greece, Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Fiji, and Hindustan.

Robert Wagner and Raymond Burr at Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California, United States, 1986 | Source: Getty Images

In many instances, all Burr did was give the children he acquired the financial support they required to get started on the path to becoming self-sufficient. In one instance, he gave a Korean boy whose father had been shot and had lost both legs {132.41 $ so that the boy could start his own poultry business. The young man, Duk Hwa Lee, achieved great success and remained in contact with Burr throughout his life.

Burr considered every child he helped worthy of his efforts and resources in some way. He frequently wrote to them to ask how things were going, and they always responded to his letters. They maintained regular communication with the actor discussing the goings-on in their lives. They even sent him photos of their report cards to brag about how well they did in university.

The actor took in 27 children and made it a point to spend time with them and their families whenever he traveled to their native countries. Burr moved six of the neighborhood children to his home in California after he bought land in Fiji and became a legal resident there. After that, the actor paid for all their college entrance tests and their annual tuition.

Raymond Burr In “Portrait: A Man Whose Name Was John,” 1973 | Source: Getty Images

After seeing how many people in the countries he visited were struggling to survive, Burr felt compelled to do something to improve the lives of children. When he observed homeless people shivering in the streets and hoping for some scraps to get them through the night, he realized that he could make a significant change in the lives of many people.

Burr started making inquiries about various projects that were geared at helping those who were in need. One of his friends took note of his participation in volunteer work and pointed him in the direction of the Foster Parents Plan. The organization only requested ten dollars per month, then given to a child struggling financially. Additionally, the sponsor could compose letters to the recipients, which were translated and delivered.

Burr’s passion for charity got stronger over the years, and he became more involved in the day-to-day activities of the students he sponsored. When he visited their country, he regularly went shopping with the kids and their families on the many occasions he did so. The performer had the aim of doing anything and everything in his power to make their lives easier.

Raymond Burr on March 11, 1977, in Hollywood, California | Source: Getty Images

Burr provided financial assistance to his nieces and nephews throughout his life. He founded a non-profit organization that has assisted more than 30 children in different parts of the globe. Burr spent his final days with Benevides in addition to using his reputation for charity to improve the lives of impoverished kids. Although it was secret, the two lived in the same house.

Burr’s secret life was already well known then, and Benevides thought it was time to come clean.

Burr and Benevides traveled together quite frequently, going to places in the world that they both adored and sharing their adventures. Benevides discussed their journeys worldwide and revealed in an interview that Burr was particularly fond of Portugal. They shared their passion for wine and indulged in it by trying different bottles wherever they traveled.

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During the same interview, Benevides discussed his plans for his vineyard’s future following his partner’s passing. The producer acknowledged that many people have talked about whether or not he would sell the property, but he also admitted that he did not know where he would go instead of selling the property. Benevides revealed that:

“I can’t imagine why I would sell and move anywhere else because I love it here. Why would I go somewhere else? I go to Faial every year because I have a little house in Praia do Almocharife. Uhm, it’s a little old house. It’s been there for a long time.”

Benevides revealed that the vineyard not only occupies a cherished location in his heart but also offers him the chance to make a living. He added that the vineyard is extremely important to him. Benevides spent his later years managing the grounds, guaranteeing the smooth running of the farm, and making wine for commercial sale. He mentioned that solid work was required to maintain the vineyard’s functioning, but the rewards were well worth the effort.

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Burr and Benevides were able to share their final days on a farm in Sonoma County, California, which was a blessing for both of them. The pair looked for the property until Burr passed away due to his cancer. Benevides took over after his partner passed away and preserved the memory of his friend by going to care for the things that his friend had cherished in life.

After Burr’s passing, Benevides remained out of the public spotlight instead of spending his time in the quiet of the farm and the vineyard. Benevides wasn’t even aware that Bowers had begun leaking information about the numerous gay actors in Hollywood until he was contacted by a journalist who was trying to verify the claims that Bowers was making.

Burr’s secret life was already well known then, and Benevides thought it was time to come clean. It was proven that he and Burr had been involved in a romantic partnership. He mentioned that even though he could not speak for each truth included in the book that Bowers had published, he could vouch for Bowers’ integrity and honesty.

Raymond Burr, circa 1985 | Source: Getty Images

Benevides is making the most of his retirement by working in the family vineyard. He explained that he had promised himself to travel every month. He lived on any of the two properties left to him by Burr, and Benevido was the sole beneficiary.

Even Burr’s sister and the rest of his family were excluded from his will when it was written. Although Burr’s family tried to challenge the will to obtain some of his assets, the courts ruled in favor of Benevides and designated him as the sole trustee of Burr’s entire estate. Although they failed, Benevides now manages the entire estate.

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