All great characters need someone to make them whole — Troy and Abed, Batman and Robin, Lorelai and Rory, Steve and Dustin. Iconic pairings give life to shows, defining pop culture history and influences for generations to come. Perry Mason may seem like he doesn’t need anyone, but the show wouldn’t be the same without the inimitable Della Street (Barbara Hale).
She’s his extra set of eyes and ears. Mason values her opinion and judgment of people’s character. Hale was an exceptional actor in her own right and one of the reasons for the show’s success.
Mason and Lt. Tragg — Best Friends, Worst Enemies
The show’s main policeman, Lt. Tragg often butted heads with Perry Mason on the show. As a homicide detective, Lt. Tragg isn’t inept. He’s just far less creative in approaching cases and solving them. In contrast, Mason’s ability to think outside the box gives him an edge over Tragg.
Despite being on opposite sides of a case, Tragg and Mason have more in common than they realize. Both characters find official procedures and systems restrictive — more roadblocks to justice than serving it. The two also share a common, frustrating enemy in the District Attorney.
The Politics Behind Every Perry Mason Remake
If you look closely you'll see that each and every time a remake of the show was created, it was as a response to existing political tentions between citizens and cops. In 1985, Raymond Burr’s Perry Mason returned on air nearly 20 years after CBS canceled the show.
The newer Perry Mason arrived at a time when public opinion of the law was unfavorable. The 2020 HBO’s Perry Mason arrived against the backdrop of similar mistrust in the police.
Barbara Hale Stumbled Into Her Career
Barbara Hale as Della Street may have played a supporting role on the show, but her presence made all the difference. Viewers loved Della Street as much as they loved Perry. Hale was effortless on the show.
To think that the actress had never considered a showbiz career seems inconceivable now! Hale was standing on a street corner when a couple walked up to her with a flyer for modeling. A few months after her modeling gig, the couple sent her photo to a Hollywood executive. Two weeks later, she officially signed with KPO pictures.
Barbara Hale Couldn't Shake Della Off
After 9 successful seasons and an Emmy win, Barbara Hale considered retirement, wanting to raise her three young children. Fate had other plans. A producer approached Hale to star in a new Perry Mason production – a series of hour-long movies made for television.
Hale found that she wasn’t able to let go of Della Street just yet. The actress starred in the TV movies for over a decade, appearing in 30 of them. She continued acting even after Raymond Burr’s death in 1993.