Raymond Burr blamed Ironside for his health problems
Was the wheelchair to blame for a heart attack?
By 1973, Raymond Burr was famous a few times over. He was the main (human) character in the American version of one of the biggest monster movies of all time, Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Then, for nine seasons, from 1957 to 1966, Burr was Perry Mason, the title attorney on the same-named procedural. After Perry Mason, Burr immediately pivoted to Ironside, where he was the wheelchair-bound consultant to the San Francisco Police Department. Each role pushed his career forward, and in turn, raised Burr's profile in the industry.
However, by Ironside's seventh season, that back-to-back schedule seemingly caught up with Burr, and his health began to deteriorate. In the fall of '73, Burr suffered a heart attack, which sounded an alarm, internally. He needed to take inventory of his lifestyle and determine what needed to change.
Two months after his cardiac episode, Burr spoke with the Leicester Chronicle about several topics, mostly related to his time in the spotlight on Perry Mason and Ironside. Naturally, his health crisis was mentioned, and Burr set the record straight regarding the culprit.
"It's sitting around in that wheelchair all the time that makes me put on weight," he said. The show would only last another season. The last one, the show's eighth, would be an abbreviated 19 episodes long.
"Lots of people think I really am paraplegic," said Burr, "but actually I can bound around as well as anyone."
His health also affected his diet, a difficult change for a passionate home chef.
"I do all my own cooking," said Burr. "I'm an expert at the specialty dishes of most countries. The only problem is I can't eat them myself."
Burr rebounded from his health scare, living another twenty years after that initial heart attack.