Raymond Burr lost around 100 pounds just to become Perry Mason

After nine successful seasons, Burr's hard work paid off, and paid him handsomely.

The Everett Collection

Many fans of Perry Mason already know the intense amount of work Raymond Burr had to put into becoming his character. We've all heard about his many health problems, his lack of time and time spent studying for the series.

Becoming Perry Mason, a fictional defense attorney known for his unwavering commitment to justice, wasn't an easy feat at all. However, Burr made it look easy in three steps: studying for the part, looking the part and playing the part. 

First step: studying.

"I've had an immense amount of research to do," Burr said in a 1957 interview with Detroit Free Press. "Mason isn't a trench coat private eye, he's a lawyer, and the law plays a big part in every drama. I spent two months watching the judges and lawyers in Los Angeles courts to get the feel of the role."

The second step to becoming Perry Mason was looking the part — something Burr took very seriously. According to the interview, Burr put himself on a diet and was able to lose nearly 100 pounds, eventually slimming down to just under 200 pounds.

"My weight doesn't bother me now," Burr said. "I work it all off with the long hours."

The final step in becoming Perry Mason was living up to his name. Before fans watched Perry Mason win countless court battles on-screen, they read about him in the Perry Mason book series.

The books were written by Erle Stanley Gardner in the 1930s and the show, which came out two decades later, was an extension of what fans loved reading. All Burr had to do was give the role a face. 

"There have been over 100 million Perry Mason mysteries sold in the United States alone," Burr said. "That's a lot of people with preconceived ideas about the man. But Mr. Gardner is the one who knows him best. His approval of my Mason makes me feel easier."

Burr said he would find himself talking in legal phrases and jargon outside of filming Perry Mason. It's safe to say that he truly embodied the character at all times, sometimes without even trying. 

"Quite often when I go home, I ask my niece and nephew if anything had happened during the day," Burr began. "They'll say 'no.' Then I come up with 'then why is there a black streak in the drive as if there was a truck parked there.' They are goggle-eyed."

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11 Comments

BorisK 13 days ago
Burr lost 100 lbs just taking of his earrings, make-up and Carmen Miranda headpiece.
MrsPhilHarris 15 days ago
On the current morning episodes Burr looks more like Ironsides than Perry Mason.
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MrsPhilHarris KJExpress 14 days ago
True. I bet he put tat 100 pounds back on.
Whenever Perry and Paul (or just Perry or even once Perry and Hamilton Burger) go fishing Perry wears casual clothes like a windbreaker and slacks.
KJExpress harlow1313 14 days ago
There was an episode that supposedly took place in Hawaii. He wore an aloha shirt at one point. Aloha shirts sort of lose their effect in b&w.
Runeshaper 15 days ago
Losing 100 pounds is a victory! Burr definitely dedicated a lot of his time and effort to become Perry Mason 🙂👍🏻👍🏻
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