Family & Companions
A former child actor, Cara Williams was a steady presence in features and television from the 1940s through the 60s. Born Bernice Kamiat in Brooklyn, New York, Williams began as a child performer and moved to L.A. as a teenager. After providing voices for animated shorts, she caught the attention of talent scouts and was signed to a contract by 20th Century Fox. Her debut was in the slice of Americana "Happy Land" (1943), which featured Don Ameche, Frances Dee and Ann Rutherford. The buxom blonde went on to appear in supporting parts in musicals ("Something for the Boys" 1944; "Meet Me in Las Vegas" 1956), comedies ("The Saxon Charm" 1948) and dramas (Elia Kazan's "Boomerang" 1947). It was not until a supporting turn as Alan King's brassy girlfriend in 1957's "The Helen Morgan Story," however, that Williams earned substantial critical acclaim for her work. The following year, she had what was arguably the best role of her career: a young widowed mother who encounters two escaped convicts (Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis) in "The Defiant Ones" (1958), which earned her an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress. Williams followed with two turns as a mobster's moll in "Never Steal Anything Small" (1959) and "The Man From the Diner's Club" (1963) and earned praise as an alcoholic divorcee opposite Carroll O'Connor in the soap operish "Doctors' Wives" (1971). She made a cameo appearance in J Lee Thompson's "White Buffalo" (1977) and appeared in the detective thriller "One Man Jury" (1978).
Williams began making frequent appearances on the small screen in the anthology series of the late 40s and 50s (i.e., "Philco Television Playhouse," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents"). She co-starred as Harry Morgan's scatterbrained wife on "Pete and Gladys" (CBS, 1960-62) and headlined her own sitcom "The Cara Williams Show" (CBS, 1964-65). In the latter, she was the wife of a co-worker forced by company policy to pretend they were not married. Williams last series stint to date was in support of Valerie Harper's "Rhoda" (CBS, 1974-75) for that show's first season.
From 1952 until 1959, Williams was married to actor John Barrymore Jr.
Cast (Feature Film)
Signed to a contract by 20th century Fox
Feature film debut, "Happy Land"
Earned Oscar nomination for her role in "The Defiant Ones"
TV series debut as regular, Gladys in "Pete and Gladys" (CBS)
Last screen role to date, "One Man Jury"