A HANDSHAKE FROM RAYMOND BURR by Tony Piazza
Raymond Burr as Perry Mason.
RAYMOND BURR (Rear Window, Perry Mason, and Ironside). Below is a fun photograph; unfortunately I had to take it off a frame from my parent’s 8mm movie so it is blurred. The home movie was shot one summer afternoon (1969) in the neighborhood of San Francisco’s Pacific Heights. Universal was filming an episode for the second season of “Ironside,” a crime drama on the NBC network. This was the second time I met Raymond Burr, and both times he was a lot of fun, extremely warm, and pleasant to visit with. DON GALLOWAY, his co-star (in the back row), had a real sense of humor. In our home movie he was clowning around throughout the filming, jumping around like a jack-in-the-box. Another co-star seen in the home movie was the attractive actress BARBARA ANDERSEN (she guest starred on the original Star Trek)…needless to say I spent at least a minute (of 3) shooting footage of her towards the end of the home movie!
Frame from home movie- getting a handshake from Raymond Burr
The producer of the show CY CHERMAK took the home movie. When we started shooting all of us were all standing there like we were posing for a still picture. Raymond Burr suddenly spoke up and said, “Hey, this is a moving picture, let’s do something!” He reached over and shook my hand, and then kissed my mother’s friend and my mother on the cheek. He then leaned over to my dad, and whispered, “Your wife is cute, do you mind if I take her to lunch?” Don Galloway, as I mentioned before was very animated behind us jumping up and down like a school kid. Everyone on the cast of that show was terrific.
The Cast of Ironside (Top: Mitchell and Galloway. Bottom: Burr and Andersen)
My first visit to the location of “Ironside” was the summer before, during a scene they were filming for a first season episode. It was at the San Francisco Cable Car Barn Powerhouse on Washington and Mason Streets, and I believe it was a “shoot out” they were filming. On that day I collected a book full of autographs (which I have 45 years later! ). They not only include those mentioned above, but DON MITCHELL (co-star regular, Mark on the show), and guest stars ANTOINETTE BOWER (Star Trek) and JACK KELLY (Maverick).
“Ironside” ran on NBC from September 1967 until January 1975- a total of eight seasons. The story centered on a wheelchair bound chief of detectives, Robert T. Ironside (Burr) and his police force companions (Mitchell, Galloway, and Andersen) who solved murder cases in San Francisco. A bit of trivia; their headquarters was the old Hall of Justice Building near Chinatown that was torn down shortly after the stock footage was taken. Actually stock shots were not uncommon on the show. Most of it was shot on the Universal lot, but occassionally they did come up from the studio to film some scenes with the cast on location.
Tony Piazza is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel, “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His second novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” was next released early 2012, and in July of this year, his latest Tom Logan Mystery, “A Murder Amongst Angels” was published and is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. He was an actor/extra during the 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden. His non-fiction e-book “Bullitt Points” is an in depth look at the making of “Bullitt” from a person who was there. Look for it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites, or at the link posted below. All profits go to the Boys Republic charity: www.bullittpoints.com.
Also: The new Tom Logan mystery thriller, A Murder Amongst Angels is now available!
Find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. Also available for $2.99 on Kindle.