Lee Miller wasn't just Sgt. Brice on 'Perry Mason,' he was Raymond Burr's longtime stand-in
The two men quietly worked together for four decades.
Lee Miller was born a mere three days before Raymond Burr. Both would have been celebrating their 100th birthdays this week. While Miller was Scottish and Burr a native of British Columbia, the two men would have a long connection with each other in Hollywood, albeit on different levels of fame.
Miller is best known as a constant, quiet presence on Perry Mason. Credited in 57 episodes yet appearing in 119, his character Sgt. Brice was often lurking in the background, picking through a crime scene, delivering evidence, being a watchful cop. Here and there, Miller got a line. His biggest moment was perhaps the season seven finale, "The Case of the Ugly Duckling." He phones Mason and spills info to the crafty defense lawyer, "The car went straight off the cliff, right into the ocean. I'm getting a diver down there now." Cut to Brice and Mason walking together along the waterfront, chatting with police divers.
It was a minor role, but Miller offered more to the production of Perry Mason. He was also the stand-in for Burr on set. This working relationship carried through to Burr's subsequent series, Ironside. Miller had 16 different appearances on that show, as well, typically as a police officer.
Burr and Miller had worked together before Perry Mason. In 1956, Miller played a policeman in the Burr film Please Murder Me! The two also shared credits on Tarzan and the She-Devil (1953), Gorilla at Large (1954) and Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956), with Burr always the star and Miller in bit parts like "Man in Line at Airport."
A newspaper article from 1971 explained how the two met: "[Miller] first met Burr in a California bar in which he worked as a bartender." The piece added, "Since the bone structure is amazingly similar, the height the same and the coloring identical, it is an easy job to disguise Miller as Burr."
Miller was often a source in celebrity profiles that attempted to dig into Burr's life. “There was a mysterious side to Ray,” he told People magazine in 1993, which cited him as "a friend of 40 years."
That profile was published upon Burr's death. We could find no news of what became of Miller. IMDb lists him as still alive. Does anyone know?
Keep your eyes peeled for Miller as we celebrate Perry MAYson on MeTV!