Raymond Burr played a prank on Alfred Hitchcock at Universal Studios

The two were practical joke compatriots.

CBS Television Distribution & NBC/UNIVERSAL

Practical jokes are more common on movie and TV sets than you may expect. Long hours with plenty of downtime lead to cast and crew filling the moments between shots. While light setups alone can stretch a day past union guidelines, boredom can set in incredibly easily. While some actors insist on staying in character, the rest must figure out how to pass the time, for risk of going looney. 

The set of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window was no different. While most of the film took place in Jimmy Stewart's character's room, the choreography needed to pull off the shots from his vantage point took a lot of hard work. As Stewart's Jeffries spied out of his windows at his neighbors, the elaborate set took careful coordination to appear like an apartment block. It takes time to reset actors and props after each take, so, naturally, the days were long.

That's why Raymond Burr took matters into his own hands. Burr played a ton of practical jokes on the set, which made him fast friends with Alfred Hitchcock, a known pranksman. The 1994 book Raymond Burr: A Film, Radio, and Television Biography includes a passage where Burr discusses how the fun continued even after Rear Window wrapped.

"At Universal Studios, I was given Rock Hudson's old dressing room, which had been redecorated and made into a bungalow in case I wanted to live in the studio while making the early Perry Masons," said Burr.

"The bungalow was right next to Hitchcock's old complex and my kitchen looked out on the place where he parked his car.

"They had tours going past my kitchen and one day I suddenly had an idea. I had a big cutout made of Hitchcock. It took three weeks because it was a life-size blowup. Then I fixed the shutters so that his hand looked poised like he was waving. Another three weeks were needed to light the blowup so it was perfect. I had the tour guides say as they went by, 'Look! There's Alfred Hitchcock in Raymond Burr's rear window!'"

This was, of course, because Burr was billed as "Raymond Burr in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window."

"Finally," said Burr, "about six months later, I got a note from Alfred, from next door saying, 'Raymond, it's been six months, I think it's enough!' So I took it down, but it was great."

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6 Comments

editorsnote 1 month ago
A prank on Hitchcock? Seems to me it was a prank on the tourists.
BorisK 1 month ago
That apparently put a Burr in Hitchcock's saddle.
Sway 1 month ago
Your honor it’s perfectly obvious Mt Mason is up to one of his courtroom tricks
cperrynaples 1 month ago
He played a famous joke on Barbara Hale! After tapping her pencil too much on one episode, Burr filled her dressing room with pencils! Fun Fact: Rod Serling played a prank similar to the Hitchcock joke! When Nightmare On 20,000 Feet was made, he put a photo of the gremlin on an airplane window! Sadly, it blew away before the victim could see it!
At NOT on! Fun Fact: If you wonder how all these small town papers got to talk to stars, THEY DIDN'T! Usually, several times a year a star's agent would set up a press junket where they talked to the major publishers! Those publishers would sell the interviews to papers who print them in the entertainment section! As to how MeTV finds them, I suspect they go to places like Wikipedia which has links to the stories! You'd be surprised how many old papers have been saved to the cloud!
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