The couple had three children: Nita, William and Jody. I had one line, but you know about those things.”The movie was a quickie, “Gildersleeve’s Bad Day,” but she went on to appear with Pat O’Brien in “The Iron Major,” Frank Sinatra in “Higher and Higher” and Robert Young in “Lady Luck.”Another co-star was a blond actor named Bill Williams (real name: William Katt), with whom she appeared in “West of the Pecos” and “A Likely Story.” They had met over coffee in the studio commissary and married in Rockford in 1946. “Of course they said it was a starring role. “It hit every paper the next day: the Cinderella story,” she recalled in a 1993 Chicago Tribune interview.
The family moved to Rockford when she was 4, and she later took part in a local theater. Hale was born in DeKalb, Illinois, daughter of a landscape gardener and a homemaker. But her goals were to be a nurse or journalist.When her ambition turned to art she studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, where she was often sought as a model. Her work for a modeling agency prompted an offer for a routine contract at the RKO studio in Hollywood.When she reported to the casting director, he was speaking on the phone to someone who needed an immediate replacement for an actress who was sick.
Stander declined to provide the cause of death.Hale appeared in “Perry Mason” on CBS from 1957 to 1966, winning an Emmy as best actress in 1959. When the show was revived in 1985 on NBC as an occasional TV movie, she again appeared in court at the side of the ever-victorious lawyer played by Raymond Burr.She continued her role after Burr died in 1993 and was replaced by Hal Holbrook for the movies that continued into 1995.“I guess I was just meant to be a secretary who doesn’t take shorthand,” she once quipped. “I’m a lousy typist, too — 33 words a minute.”
LOS ANGELES >> Barbara Hale, a movie actress who found her most famous role on television as steadfast secretary Della Street in the long-running “Perry Mason” series, has died. She was 94.Hale was surrounded by family when she died Thursday at her Los Angeles area home, said Jaqueline Stander, an agent for Hale’s son, actor William Katt (“The Greatest American Hero,” ‘’Carrie”).“She was gracious and kind and silly and always fun to be with,” Katt posted on his Facebook page Thursday, calling Hale a wonderful actress and a “treasure as a friend and mother.”