This is the story of how a red coat helped Barbara Hale get discovered
Della Street was literally scooped up off the side of a street!
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The breathtaking actress who went on to become Della Street was "a green 19" when she got discovered in a remarkably serendipitous way. Barbara Hale told The Chicago Tribune in 1993 that she was attending the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts when suddenly her entire life changed completely, thanks to one fateful summer day in Chicago in the early 1950s.
As Hale tells the story, she met up with a friend once her classes concluded outside the Drake Hotel. Her friend was in town looking for modeling work, but it was Hale who apparently caught the attention of a random talent scout. Before either girl knew what was happening, a car drove up to them and someone inside tossed a card out the window. When they picked it up, they saw it was for a modeling agency.
Hale laughed it off, thinking it was just something funny that happened one day, and it was a good thing she found it so amusing, because it was while telling the story anecdotally to a friend that fate stepped in to make Hale famous. Hale told The Tribune her friend responded to the story with a story of her own:
"Barb, you're kidding! I was sitting in the little coffee shop at work this morning, and a lady came in and sat next to me, because it was the only seat left. She was pouting. I asked if she had a problem, and she said, 'Yes, darn it. I have a model agency and I saw this kid on a corner, in a red coat, and can't track her down. She's exactly what one of our ad agencies is looking for.' Barb, what coat did you have on that day?"
Hale's response: "My red coat — it's the only coat I have." Her friend said what we're all thinking now: "Barb, I think that card was meant for you."
Sheer curiosity led Hale to visit the modeling agency, where the head of that agency herself, Connie Seaman, was floored to suddenly receive her second chance to sign the beauty Barbara Hale. According to Hale, Seaman said, "Oh, my God — honey, don't move!"
From there, Hale trained to become a model, and then fate struck again. She happened to be in the office of casting director Dick Stockton on the day after she landed in L.A. when he got a phone call that ended up sending Hale on her first acting gig. She said Stockton was on the phone and asked her if she could say a line. Most folks get an audition, but for Hale, her solemn word alone seemed to be good enough for them to get her cast. No one could've known how great a talent she'd become from that one momentous decision.
That day, Hale became one of Hollywood's most determined actresses, steadily working to improve as an actress, dancer and singer through intense studies.
Of course, it all paid off when she was cast as Della Street in Perry Mason, ultimately earning an Emmy Award for that role in 1959. And it's all thanks to a lucky red coat, the only coat she happened to have on an unseasonably cool summer day in Chicago.