The Perry Mason TV Show Book
Raymond Burr as Perry Mason

The Case of the Heartbroken Actor

Tragedy is no stranger to Raymond Burr. In fact, it has proved to be a lifelong companion. Sadly, this was especially the case with his three marriages.

In 1943, Burr's wife Annette was coming to meet him in New York. But with World War II raging in Europe, air travel was, at best, a risky business. Traveling on the same plane as actor Leslie Howard, Annette was killed when the Nazis destroyed the aircraft off the coast of Portugal.

Soon afterward, Burr joined the navy and served for two years. During his stretch, he was shot in the stomach on Okinawa, receiving injuries that required, over the years, six operations to repair. When he got out, he traveled to England and brought his son back to the States with him.

Two years later, Burr married Isabella Ward, an old friend. It was apparently a spur-of-the-moment decision; Burr and Ward were at a New Year's party, ushering in 1947. He was lonely and so was she. On an impulse, they agreed to get hitched. The marriage was short-lived, the divorce bitter. "She had deep-set personal problems," Burr said at the time. "And so did I. The combination of the two made our life impossible."

A third marriage, this time to Laura Andrina Marga, started out happy. But just before the couple were to take their postponed honeymoon, they learned she had cancer. She was dead in two weeks. And as if this wasn't enough, Burr's son from his first marriage, Michael, later died of leukemia at age eleven. (Burr has also been beset with a barrage of physical ailments himself. By the age of fifty, he had contracted, at one point or another, malaria, typhoid, and hepatitis. He had also had surgery nine times.)

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The Perry Mason TV Show Book Copyright 1987 by Brian Kelleher and Diana Merrill. All rights reserved. Presented here by permission of the copyright holder. Commercial use prohibited. Web page Copyright 1998 D. M. Brockman. Last edited 04 Nov 2004.