Raymond Burr worked in the cinema and interpreted many films for six decades, but he was popularly known as the famous lawyer Perry Mason from the television series "Perry Mason."
Despite being a famous star, he lived in an era where there was criticism of gay stars, so he did all he could to hide his sexuality. Like other stars, Raymond Burr painted a rosy familial picture.
Letting the world know about his sexuality was not an option, and the stories he created became the greatest monument to 'mythomania' in the history of Hollywood.
Portrait of Raymond Burr as the lawyer Perry Mason on January 1, 1957 [left], Aerial view of Raymond Burr Vineyards [top right], A picture of the signage at Raymond Burr Vineyards [bottom right] | Source: Getty Images, Facebook.com/raymondburrvineyards
Raymond used his stories to reinvent himself and became accepted in Hollywood. From claims of multiple marriages to losing a son, no one knew that he had a secret relationship with his longtime partner of 33 years in real life.
Here are details about Burr's secret life with his partner and the beautiful vineyard where they lived together and where Burr's dreams came true.
Portrait of Raymond Burr as Chief of Detectives Robert T. Ironside, on the set of "Ironside" circa 1975 in Los Angeles | Source: Getty Images
INSIDE RAYMOND BURR'S HIDDEN GAY LIFE WITH HIS PARTNER OF 33 YEARS
In various scenarios, Burr stated that he was married three times. Being an actor, he wove so many tales that it was difficult to separate fact from fiction in his life.
According to Burr, his first wife, a Scottish actress, Annette Sutherland, died in 1943 in a plane crash. He claimed that they had a son, Michael Evan Burr, in 1943 before her death.
His second marriage to his co-star Isabella Ward ended in divorce after four years. When the press asked Bella about his first wife, she said she was Burr's first wife and did not know about any wife before her.
Bella stated that Burr would have told her if he had been married before. When the press also asked her about his son, whom he said died at ten after battling leukemia, Bella 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."
Seven years after his divorce from his first wife, Burr revealed a third wife, Laura Andrina Morgan, whom he claimed to have married in 1953 or 1955.
In his accounts, Morgan died soon after they married, having lost her battle with cancer. There was also no trace of Morgan, and even people close to him had never seen her.
Burr also revealed he had a long relationship with a lady he always spoiled with gifts. One Christmas, she made him 12 pairs of hand-knitted cashmere socks, but they were in the wrong size and a color he did not like.
The actor did a great job of reinventing himself. Yet, his fake marriages, fake relationships, and the birth of his son might have been just his fantasy to cover his homosexual relationship with his longtime partner.
Burr met his partner, an actor Robert Benevides, in the mid-950s on the widely acclaimed and successful television program "Perry Mason." They both had the initials R.B.
They quickly became friends, their friendship grew, and Benevides soon became the Executive in Charge of Production for Burr's successful and long-running television series, "Ironside."
The actors, who also had a mutual hobby for the cultivation and hybridization of orchids, soon turned their hobby into a commercial venture and purchased an island in Fiji to bring up the standard of living for the Fijian people.
Before buying the place in Fiji, they looked at Hawaii, but things were not working in their favor, so Burr suggested that Benevides write a letter to the Chamber of Commerce in Fiji.
However, such chambers did not exist, but a 'shady Australian' responded to them. After they arrived in Fiji, the Australian told them the land they sought had been sold and suggested another to them.
He told them they had to go by plane to another island before traveling by taxi for 45 minutes to a small dock where they would take a little boat, and Burr was interested.
As they got closer to the place, Burr woke Benevides up to inform him, and just as he opened a bottle of champagne, a beam of light came down on the island.
Even though it was very cloudy and stormy, Burr saw this as a sign. They stayed there for a couple of days, and he fell in love with the place. After buying the site in 1965, they sold it in 1985.
Burr said people wondered why he would leave civilization for an island in Fiji when they owned the place. He always told them that Fiji was more civilized than California or New York City.
RAYMOND BURR AS AN ADOPTIVE FATHER OF 27 KIDS
After losing his claimed son, Burr wanted to fill the emotional void, and he took note of the needy children he met on the streets and in his travels.
When he heard about the Foster Parents Plan and learned that the cost of feeding an adopted child for a month was ten dollars, Burr decided to adopt as many as he could.
He adopted children from all parts of the world and always requested children who needed the most medical care. His first foster child was an Italian boy named Francisco, one of his adopted children was a Korean child named Lincoln White.
He also adopted four children from Vietnam on one of his trips. Besides giving them money for support, he also sent them seasonal gifts, and in Vietnam, he supported an orphanage for years.
Burr adopted a Korean boy Duk Hwa Lee after the boy's father lost his leg in the Korean war. Whenever he visited the children, he would take them shopping for clothes, books, toys, and games.
Burr learned to speak Italian, Greek, Korean, Vietnamese, Fijian, Filippino, and other languages his adopted children spoke so he could communicate with them and teach them English.
When he bought the island in Fiji, he took six children from there to his home in California, where they did chores around the house to earn their education.
RAYMOND BURR'S VINEYARD, WHERE HIS DREAMS CAME TRUE
Even though Benevides said Burr was generous, Burr felt he had led a selfish life because he made money and spent the money on his pleasure and personal satisfaction.
In 1976, Benevides' father bought portions of the existing Raymond Burr Vineyard Estate, and years later, Benevides and Burr planted vines on their 40 acres of farm in Dry Creek Valley.
In 1985, Burr suggested to Benevides that they should put in some grapes because he always dreamt about having wine for his love of cooking.
The following year, they put in the grapes and had their first bottle of wine in 1989. Once they bottled the first, they never stopped making wine.
With a blossoming vineyard and sheep raised for different colored wools, Burr was excited to become the farmer he always wanted to be.
While his workers sheared sheep, they also collected fruits and vegetables. The excess fruits and vegetables were canned and stored for future use.
When Burr died in 1993, they had not released any of the wines, so Benevides decided to call it Raymond Burr Vineyards even though Burr never wanted it named after him. Benevides said,
"It was never my dream, it was his dream. [...] He didn't want it named after him, I know that [...] but we’re making great wines now. It's a memorial to him, to his idea, and I think it deserves to be named after him."
Despite having this property, Burr also traveled around the country for flower conventions and shows as he grew orchids on a large scale while attending to other farming businesses in Puerto Rico, Fiji, Portugal, and other countries.