Integrity is not considered an aphrodisiac. It is usually given a place-setting at the moral banquet, but rarely makes an appearance during discussions of sex-appeal.
Rebels dominate this conversation. Six-pack abs and an air of danger are optional; attitude isn’t. But rebels, like all culturally celebrated things, don’t need my words in order to shine. They are ubiquitous in the American pop culture landscape. Finding them attractive and charming is not only acceptable, but, by this point, to be expected. It is, dare I say, the norm.
This brief post is my attempt at adding a faint notch in the other, largely overlooked column.
Here are ten bullet-pointed reasons why I have a crush on Hamilton Burger (William Talman), the beleaguered District Attorney on Perry Mason, who is the embodiment of the phrase I’m just doing my job. And his job–that of putting away criminals–is a worthy one. He’s not a hitman or kitten killer. He doesn’t whack old ladies on their kneecaps or push toddlers off of swings. He prosecutes suspected murderers.
- Hamilton Burger is a consummate professional. He never enters a courtroom less than fully prepared. His demeanor, although occasionally tetchy, is always proper. He follows the rules. Facing off against California’s most gifted defense attorney is difficult, but he holds his own. Only H.B. can approach Perry Mason in lawyerly skill. When he loses a case to P.M., he does so graciously…and is relieved by the fact that an innocent person is now free. Why? Because…
- His only goal is for justice to be served. Even when it is at the expense of his own prosecutorial record (which, let’s be real, must be perfect when he is not facing P.M., or he wouldn’t have a job). Which brings me to…
- He controls his ego, his ego doesn’t control him. Or he wouldn’t survive in an environment where P.M. constantly has the winning hand.
- His self-esteem is healthy. Losing to P.M. does not make him neurotic or doubtful. He maintains his self-worth regardless of what happens on the job, but is never arrogant.
- He is flexible and open-minded. H.B. changes his opinion as new facts are presented. He moves where the flow of information takes him, even when it is against his professional interests.
- He’s smart, and smart is sexy.
- He’s witty. H.B. has the perfect voice for, and a nice way with, sarcasm, which he uses often.
- He’s honest and upstanding. No one ever seriously doubts his integrity (including P.M.). He’s scrupulously ethical, and everyone knows it. True decency is a turn-on.
- There are no hard feelings. Burger and Mason are more-or-less friendly acquaintances outside of work. They respect each other and occasionally have post-case drinks together.
- He has a nice smile, and more lawyers should have smiles like his.
Perry Mason (1957-1966)-Starring: Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, William Hopper, Ray Collins, and William Talman.