1915 : William Whitney Talman Jr. Born, Hamilton Burger of Perry Mason Fame

February 4, 2024 all-day

William Talman (right) as Hamilton Burger, with Raymond Burr in the CBS-TV series Perry Mason (1957–66), courtesy of Wikipedia

William Whitney Talman Jr. was a third-generation Detroiter whose ancestral line included a member of George Washington’s staff during the American Revolution. A noted actor, he played in many movies before becoming famous as Hamilton Burger, the prosecuting attorney who always lost to Perry Mason in the Perry Mason tv series which originally played from 1957 through 1966. However, his most significant role, according to this article, was doing an anti-smoking commercial for the American Cancer Society while dying from lung cancer (brought on by smoking three packs of un-filtered camels a day for 40 years). The landmark commercial, the first anti-smoking spot to feature a celebrity, aired in 1968.

For the full article, see Richard Bak, “Profile: Detroit-born ‘Perry Mason’ Actor William Talman”, Hour Detroit, March 2013.