Excerpt: Hiding in Plain Sight

"It went on for weeks. He just never stopped playing gags," Hale said. "He once took everything out of my dressing room. He had a truck come and get it. It went on for two weeks [and] then I said, 'Raymond, this is enough. You get those things back to me or I am going to get a real lawyer.' And he said, 'Nobody beats Perry Mason!' Anyway, he brought it back, and they called me from the set and a moving van was at the gate. He had given me the bill."

The closeness wasn't limited to the Perry Mason costars. Raymond treated everyone on the set as family. The stories about his practical jokes were matched only by the stories of his acts of kindness and benevolence. When he heard that veteran character actor George Stone was ill—nearly blind and unable to find steady work—Raymond, who didn't know Stone, hired him as the Perry Mason court clerk. The role required nothing more of Stone than to sit in a chair at a desk and look busy. When Perry Mason makeup man Irving Pringle collapsed on the set from a hemorrhaging ulcer, Raymond "took him to the hospital, checked him in and was up all night with him," according to Gail Patrick Jackson. When he heard from his secretary Bill Swann that a little girl in Massachusetts, who'd been horribly burned, preferred an autographed photo of her hero Perry Mason to a letter from President Eisenhower, he flew to the hospital to visit her. He was furious when photographers showed up to document the occasion and refused to let his picture be taken.

"There were no secrets about the show. We were an open book," said Art Marks. "There were no actor problems, really. There was no animosity between one actor, one director, or any of that kind of crap. First of all, we wouldn't allow it. If an actor was a problem, that actor was written off, or told off, or corrected. And Ray was the first to say, 'I don't want any of that around. I want a family.' "

Raymond lent money to anyone who asked, grew close to Barbara Hale's children (including future costar William Katt), and contributed generously to charitable causes. He threw lavish dinner parties for friends, sponsored foster children from Korea and Italy, and puttered around the house in Malibu on his days off, tending to his menagerie. And, along the way, he invented another wife.

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